Paperback - 2008
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Zola's masterpiece of working life, Germinal (1885), exposes the inhuman conditions of miners in northern France in the 1860s. By Zola's death in 1902 it had come to symbolise the call for freedom from oppression so forcefully that the crowd which gathered at his State funeral chanted'Germinal! Germinal!'.The central figure, Etienne Lantier, is an outsider who enters the community and eventually leads his fellow-miners in a strike protesting against pay-cuts - a strike which becomes a losing battle against starvation, repression, and sabotage. Yet despite all the violence and disillusion which rockthe mining community to its foundations, Lantier retains his belief in the ultimate germination of a new society, leading to a better world. Germinal is a dramatic novel of working life and everyday relationships, but it is also a complex novel of ideas, given fresh vigour and power in this new translation.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008.
ISBN: 9780199536894
Characteristics: 538 p. ; 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Collier, Peter 1942-


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jun 01, 2015

“Why are some miserable? why are others rich? why are the former beneath the heel of the latter without hope of ever taking their place? "
Along with fellow French writers Balzac and Flaubert, Zola steered the course of the novel in the 19th century and had a major influence on American and British writers, especially those in the realistic and naturalistic schools. "Germinal" is perhaps Zola's masterpiece, a sweeping, brutal, almost apocalyptic story of a miner's strike in rural France. Touching on capitalism, communism, worker's rights, Darwinism, and alcoholism, "Germinal" is an anti-Victorian novel, reveling in the filth and violence those books leave out. Zola spent time with miners when writing this and so is something of a "method" writer. This is part of his massive, multi-volume series known as Les Rougon-Macquart. Also check out "Therese Raquin" and "La Bete Humaine."

Apr 22, 2012

Incredible detail and storytelling. The dire images of poverty and inhumane conditions in the mine were disturbing. The events of the strike and its consequence are riveting. This reminded me of a French version of "The Jungle" but with better pace and flow. I found myself not wanting to put the book down. Zola is a truly gifted writer.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at CPL

To Top