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L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – March 25, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0199538683 ISBN-10: 0199538689

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'if Mauldon moves on, as one hopes she will, to another Zola novel, she will not find herself facing again the difficulties that beset her with L'Assommoir and which she has overcome so brilliantly' Times Literary Supplement

'Margaret Mauldon begins her brief "notes on the translation" ... calling it "a notoriously difficult text to translate" ... if Mauldon moves on, as one hopes she will, to another Zola novel, she will not find herself facing again the difficulties that beset her with L'Assommoir and which she has overcome so brilliantly.' Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Robert Lethbridge is Fellow and Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Margaret Mauldon lives in Amhurst, Massachusetts, and is working on other World's Classics translations.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199538689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199538683
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.2 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
It's a difficult, heavy novel, but brilliant, important and a necessary read.
Biblibio
I would recommend this novel and other writings of Emile Zola for all who are interested in and respect the world culture.
Sister Moon
Though initially all is well, as the man is decent, if illiterate, we know right away that she made a mistake.
H. Schneider

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Biblibio VINE VOICE on May 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Somehow, Émile Zola manages to create stories that bring the readers in close to the story. "L'Assommoir" is one such story, grabbing readers from the very start and holding them until the very end, uncompromising. As in his other books, the story of France is presented in the form of a complex cast of characters. This story, a surprisingly strong account of drinking and difficulties, accurately comes to describe the situations.

"L'Assommoir" may be described simply as a story about alcoholism but that would be a disservice to this book. Beyond the simple premise as described on the back cover, "L'Assommoir" deals with family troubles, social difficulties, and, indeed, the devastating affects of alcoholism. By keeping the immediate cast of characters relatively small (and hinting at future Rougon-Macquart novels in the characters of Nana and Étienne) but showing a wider world with numerous side-characters, Zola creates an entirely realistic and believable world, displaying the poorer side of Paris. Zola's steadfast descriptions of a difficult and seedy world are grim and startling. The characters' lives are so full of difficulties and pain (following, of course, a long period of good times) that it's impossible not to find yourself immersed in the story.

"L'Assommoir" aims to follow Zola's own "realism" style. There's a vulgarity factor to "L'Assommoir", just as there is one to Zola's other Rougon-Macquart novels (for those coming from others). The realism leads to accuracy in fights, in good times and in bad. Situations breathe; Zola builds scenes so utterly true that it's impossible not to scratch your head, wondering who let him record all of these things.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on February 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
L'Assommoir was Zola's commercial breakthrough. Scandal always helps sales. Right-wingers cursed him as a socialist, left-wingers felt he had betrayed the working classes, moralists complained about pornography. Enticing propaganda.
The book was published in 1876, the story begins in 1850 and stretches over some years.
Heroine is Gervaise, a daughter of one of the founding fathers of the Rougon-Macquart clan. She ran away from the Provence and lived in Paris with her lover, who deserted her later. She is a sober person and is willing to work for a living and to take care of her two little boys. She doesn't need another man. Eventually she gives in to a neighbor's insistence though and pairs up with him. Though initially all is well, as the man is decent, if illiterate, we know right away that she made a mistake. She would have done better on her own. (The women's movement used to say: a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.)
Chapter IV is a brilliant masterpiece: we watch the slow rise of the family fortune and the birth of Nana as well as of dreams of an own business, until the man has an accident, falling while roofing, and the seeds of decline are sown.
This is heartbreak, a slow but unstoppable descent into misery. We grieve for Gervaise.
(One of her sons later shows up as an artist, first in The Belly, again later in the Masterpiece. The second one will be a hero in Germinal. The daughter is Nana, with her own title to herself.)

Zola was a man for the detail. He didn't just tell stories, he provided full background pictures. This novel tells us all about the work process in laundries: the smells, the noises, the people involved. We learn everything possible about the distillery that gives the novel its name.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Rodeck on August 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Zola has tremendous powers of description; he has many American copycats (Dreiser, Crane, Norris). Awfully depressing story. Would make it required reading for AA and codependent groups. (Note: It's hard to believe the physical punishment that Frenchmen could inflict on wives and daughters. Several females beaten, neglected and abused to death.) Fairly easy reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Mariani on October 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Zola's masterpiece! The attention to detail about mid-19th century Paris is as much a historical textbook as it is a human comedy/melodrama.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sister Moon on February 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book! You cannot beat classics! I would recommend this novel and other writings of Emile Zola for all who are interested in and respect the world culture.
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