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Germinal

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Translated and Introduced by Physician and Author Havelock Ellis (1859-1939)


(1885)


Germinal

The 13th novel in Émile Zola's 20-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Often considered his masterpiece and one of the most significant novels in the French tradition, the novel – an uncompromisingly harsh and realistic story of a coal miners' strike in northern France in the 1860s – has been published and translated in over one hundred countries and has additionally inspired five film adaptations and two television productions. 'GERMINAL' was published in 1885, after occupying Zola during the previous year. In accordance with his usual custom—but to a greater extent than with any other of his books except La Débâcle—he accumulated material beforehand. For six months he travelled about the coal-mining district in northern France and Belgium, especially the Borinage around Mons, note-book in hand. 'He was inquisitive, was that gentleman', miner told Sherard who visited the neighbourhood at a later period and found that the miners in every village knew Germinal. That was a tribute of admiration the book deserved, but it was never one of Zola's most popular novels; it was neither amusing enough nor outrageous enough to attract the multitude.

--From the Introduction by Havelock Ellis


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