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Thread: Germinal; a reading

  1. #1
    The caffeinated newbie SFG75's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
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    Germinal; a reading

    I've had this book for quite some time now. I picked it up at a used bookstore in Ireland seven years ago and have meant to read it, but alas, life and other books got in the way. I've decided that now isthe time to read it and I'm glad that I've made the decision.

    I liked the opening scene as depicted in the book. The bleak plains and the heat generated in the horizon by the coal mine and other plants around the area painted quite an interesting scene, at least, a very dark one. I don't know that much about mining, but I've read elsewhere that Zola did his homework about whatever it was that he was writing about. The importance of timbering is mentioned quite often, I also enjoyed reading about the process of how the extraction occured, as well as the problems with management regarding what constitued a "full" cart and what the individual roles of the workers were.

    A good social justice book will slap you about the injustice, and this one did early. The mother and her children trooping off in front of the Gregoire house did that for me. On top of that, the father lecturing her on the importance of being thrifty and of not having so many kids, oh my blood was boiling while reading that!. I also found the description of the worker's diets interesting, not to mention the lifestyle of the Gregoires, whose daughter lazily slept in and the couple thought it was so darn *cute* and kept the chocolate warm for her on the stove while she slept. Such humanitarians those rich people are.

    The relationship between the youth seems to be a bit provocative, I imagine that this book ran into more than a few problems school curriculum wise. I don't doubt it was the truth though, as when people are worked to the bone, whatever little liberties they can enjoy, they do.

    I'm currently starting part three and hope to be done with it tonight, more to come hopefully.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
    Germinal was the first Zola book that I ever read and I agree with you about being angry!
    I've since begun collecting his other novels (and trying to read them in the right order - I don't know what you know of Zola, but there are 20 in this collection).
    I have some favourites to recommend - try 'L'Assamoir', 'Nana', 'The Earth', 'A Priest in the House'. But, my favourites seem to increase as I reread or read a 'new' one.
    What I love is not just the 'realism' but the fact that each book is connected to family members. I'm begining to get to know these several branches of the family quite well.

  3. #3
    Ataraxia bazarov's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    In spleen
    You can't talk about realism of Zola's novels because Zola wasn't a realist, he was a naturalist and his mission was not to describe situations like they were; realists were for that. His mission was to describe the worst things in society, from kids to elders; they were all poor, miserable, bad, rude, acting more like animals then like humans. He was, like whole naturalism, too pessimistic. You could hardly name one positive character in this novel. And that's not real, even in jail there is at least one good person. That's the main problem of this book; you know that every character will surely act in worst way he possibly can.
    Why is book called Germinal? Is it something on French?
    At thunder and tempest, At the world's coldheartedness,
    During times of heavy loss And when you're sad
    The greatest art on earth Is to seem uncomplicatedly gay.

    To get things clear, they have to firstly be very unclear. But if you get them too quickly, you probably got them wrong.
    If you need me urgent, send me a PM

  4. #4
    Registered User ianthe's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    the title refers to the name of one of the spring months of the french republican calendar. it comes from the latin word for "seed", so i can imagine it has both positive and negative connotations... positive: perhaps spring, new life growing? though such optimism does seem unlikely for a naturalist writer. but on the other hand, it certainly is an allusion to the revolution at its worst.

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