Assommoir

ISBN-10: 0199538689
ISBN-13: 9780199538683
Edition: 2009
List price: $12.95 Buy it from $5.43
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Description: The seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, L'Assommoir (1877) is the story of a woman's struggle for happiness in working-class Paris. It was a contemporary bestseller, outraged conservative critics, and launched a passionate debate about the  More...

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Book details

List price: $12.95
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 3/25/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 528
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.792
Language: English

The seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, L'Assommoir (1877) is the story of a woman's struggle for happiness in working-class Paris. It was a contemporary bestseller, outraged conservative critics, and launched a passionate debate about the legitimate scope of modern literature. At the centre of the novel stands Gervaise, who starts her own laundry and for a time makes a success of it. But her husband Coupeau squanders her earnings in the Assommoir, the local drinking shop, and gradually the pair sink into poverty and squalor. L'Assommoir is the most finely crafted of Zola's novels, and this new translation captures not only the brutality but also the pathos of its characters' lives. This book is a pwerful indictment of nineteenth-century social conditions, and the introduction examines its relation to politics and art as well as its explosive effect on the literary scene.

Zola was the spokesperson for the naturalist novel in France and the leader of a school that championed the infusion of literature with new scientific theories of human development drawn from Charles Darwin (see Vol. 5) and various social philosophers. The theoretical claims for such an approach, which are considered simplistic today, were outlined by Zola in his Le Roman Experimental (The Experimental Novel, 1880). He was the author of the series of 20 novels called The Rougon-Macquart, in which he attempted to trace scientifically the effects of heredity through five generations of the Rougon and Macquart families. Three of the outstanding volumes are L'Assommoir (1877), a study of alcoholism and the working class; Nana (1880), a story of a prostitute who is a femme fatale; and Germinal (1885), a study of a strike at a coal mine. All gave scope to Zola's gift for portraying crowds in turmoil. Today Zola's novels have been appreciated by critics for their epic scope and their visionary and mythical qualities. He continues to be immensely popular with French readers. His newspaper article "J'Accuse," written in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, launched Zola into the public limelight and made him the political conscience of his country.

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