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 rock the 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.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Born to drunken parents in the slums of Paris, Nana lives in squalor until she is discovered at the Théâtre des Variétés. She soon rises from the streets to set the city alight as the most famous high-class prostitute of her day. Rich men, Comtes and Marquises fall at her feet, great ladies try to emulate her appearance, lovers even kill themselves for her. Nana's hedonistic appetite for luxury and decadent pleasures knows no bounds - until, eventually, it consumes her. Nana provoked outrage on its publication in 1880, with its heroine damned as 'the most crude and bestial sort of whore', yes the language of the novel makes Nana almost a mythical figure: a destructive force preying on a corrupt society.
Conservative and working-class, Jean Macquart is an experienced, middle-aged soldier in the French army, who has endured deep personal loss. When he first meets the wealthy and mercurial Maurice Levasseur, who never seems to have suffered, his hatred is immediate. But after they are thrown together during the disastrous Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the pair are compelled to understand one other. Forging a profound friendship, they must struggle together to endure a disorganised and brutal war, the savage destruction of France's Second Empire and the fall of Napoleon III. One of the greatest of all war novels, The Debacle is the nineteenth novel in Zola's great Rougon-Macquart cycle. A forceful and deeply moving tale of close friendship, it is also a fascinating chronicle of the events that were to lead, in the words of Zola himself, to 'the murder of a nation'.
Now the basis for the major BBC tv adaptation The Paradise, this is a lavish drama and a timeless commentary on consumerism. The Penguin Classics edition of émile Zola's The Ladies' Delight is based on an acclaimed, vivid and modern translation by Robin Buss, who has also introduced the novel.
The Ladies' Delight is the glittering Paris department store run by Octave Mouret. He has used charm and drive to become director of this mighty emporium, unscrupulously exploiting his young female staff and seducing his lady customers with luxurious displays of shimmering silks, satins, velvets and lace. Then Denise Baudu, a naïve provincial girl, becomes an assistant at the store - and Mouret discovers that he in turn can also be enchanted. With its greedy customers, gossiping staff and vibrant sense of theatre, The Ladies' Delight (Au Bonheur des Dames in the original French) is one of the most richly exciting novels in Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart cycle.
This edition also contains a bibliography, introduction, chronology and explanatory notes.
Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877).
'A complete page-turner about the consumer society, greed, fashion and instant gratification' India Knight 'A fine translation' The Times Literary Supplement
Set in the taverns of Paris, this is perhaps the first classical tragedy of working-class people living in the slums of a city. The Drinking Den (1877) is part of the Rougon-Macquart series, a naturalistic history of two branches of a family traced through several generations. Zola's work was influenced by contemporary theories of heredity and experimental science, and the behaviour of the two families is shown to be conditioned by environment and inherited characteristics, chiefly drunkenness and mental instability.
When Jean Macquart arrives in the peasant community of Beauce, where farmers have worked the same land for generations, he quickly finds himself involved in the corrupt affairs of the local Fouan family. Aging and Lear-like, Old Man Fouan has decided to divide his land between his three children: his penny-pinching daughter Fanny, his eldest son - a far from holy figure known as 'Jesus Christ' - and the lecherous Buteau, Macquart's friend. But in a community where land is everything, sibling rivalry quickly turns to brutal hatred, as Buteau declares himself unsatisfied with his lot. Part of the vast Rougon-Macquart cycle, The Earth was regarded by Zola as his greatest novel. A fascinating portrayal of a struggling but decadent community, it offers a compelling exploration of the destructive nature of human ignorance and greed
La Bete humaine (1890), the seventeenth novel in the Rougon-Macquart series, is one of Zola's most violent and explicit works. On one level a tale of murder, passion, and possession, it is also a compassionate study of individuals derailed by atavistic forces beyond their control. Zola considered this his 'most finely worked' novel, and in it he powerfully evokes life at the end of the Second Empire in France, where society seemed to be hurtling into the future like the new locomotives and railways it was building. While expressing the hope that human nature evolves through education and gradually frees itself of the burden of inherited evil, he is constantly reminding us that under the veneer of technological progress there remains, always, the beast within.