[Ebook] ↠ L'Assommoir Author Émile Zola – Thomashillier.co.uk

L'Assommoir The Seventh Novel In The Rougon Macquart Cycle, L Assommoir Is The Story Of A Woman S Struggle For Happiness In Working Class Paris At The Center Of The Story Stands Gervaise, Who Starts Her Own Laundry And For A Time Makes A Success Of It But Her Husband Soon Squanders Her Earnings In The Assommoir, A Local Drinking Spot, And Gradually The Pair Sink Into Poverty And Squalor L Assommoir Was A Contemporary Bestseller, Outraged Conservative Critics, And Launched A Passionate Debate About The Legitimate Scope Of Modern Literature This New Translation Captures Not Only The Brutality But The Pathos Of Its Characters Lives


10 thoughts on “L'Assommoir

  1. says:

    A heavy man of forty was serving a ten year old girl who had asked him to place four sous worth of brandy into her cup A shaft of sunlight came through the entrance to warm the floor which was always damp from the smokers spitting From everything, the casks, the bar, the entire room, a liquorish odor arose, an alcoholic aroma which seemed to thicken and befuddle the dust motes dancing in the sunlight The above is but one of the many vivid descriptions in the world of mile Zola s L Assomm A heavy man of forty was serving a ten year old girl who had asked him to place four sous worth of brandy into her cup A shaft of sunlight came through the entrance to warm the floor which was always damp from the smokers spitting From everything, the casks, the bar, the entire room, a liquorish odor arose, an alcoholic aroma which seemed to thicken and befuddle the dust motes dancing in the sunlight The above is but one of the many vivid descriptions in the world of mile Zola s L Assommoir, an urban underbelly of fleshy humanity emitting spit and sweet and stinking of booze a swarm of filth and grime, grunting, gesticulating, swearing, slobbering If this sounds like strong stuff, it is the very strong literary stuff of Zola style naturalism, where we as readers are dragged ever so slowly through the boarding houses, streets and open sewers in the poorest slums of late nineteenth century Paris.At the heart of the novel is Gervaise, a young mother abandoned by her lover, who has to fight to earn an honest living as a laundress and starcher Eventually she marries one Monsieur Coupeau and initially it appears life will be clean, decent and manageable, but her husband starts drinking and thus begins the family s downward spiral L Assommoir translated as The Gin Palace or The Drinking Den or The Dram Shop caused an uproar when first published too fierce, too brutal, too sordid Completely unapologetic, Zola simply replied that he wrote about life as it is actually lived among the poor.Rather than focusing on all the nasty, grimy details, distasteful and disgusting by anybody s standards, including a scene where a child is being whipped by her drunken father, I read Zola s work with an eye to what place, if any, literature, music and the arts have in the lives of these poor Parisians Perhaps surprisingly, there are a number of occasions, noted below, where the men and women in this novel encounter the arts.After Gervaise and Coupeau s wedding ceremony, the several men and women of the wedding party pay a visit to the Louvre When they walk through the Assyrian exhibit they adjudge the gigantic stone figures and monstrous beasts, half cat and half woman, very ugly Then, when they make their way to the galleries ofmodern art, we read, Centuries of art passed before their bewildered ignorance, the fine sharpness of the early masters, the splendors of the Venetians, the vigorous life, beautiful with light, of the Dutch painters But what interested them most were the artists who were copying, with their easels planted amongst the people, painting away unrestrainedly Then the wedding party moves to another room where they encounter Ruben s Kermesse, and Zola writes, The ladies uttered faint cries the moment they brought their noses close to the painting Then, blushing deeply they turned away their heads The men though kept them there, cracking jokes, and seeking for the coarser details Let s pause here to reflect on the response of these men and women to the art on display Is there anything unusual or unexpected in way they interact with the sculptures and paintings Not really seeing the ancient art of Assyria as ugly is understandable they want to see pleasing images, not half human grotesques Also, understandable is their focus on the artists copying the great masterpieces rather than the masterpieces themselves the process of creation is fascinating Lastly, their visceral reaction to the racy country f te of Ruben is predicable, especially the men enjoying the coarse, sexy details All this to say, in Zola s view, members of the lower classes can appreciate art as that art relates to their own lives True, their viewing isn t the disinterested objectivity of a refined aesthete or knowing eye of an art historian but that s no reason to discount the way they value art and make art a part of their lives.One fine evening, Gervaise hosts a dinner fit for royalty At this point in the novel, she has put forth great effort to live a life that is a kind of oasis of virtue, industriousness and cleanliness amid the city s poor This lavish dinner, complete with fine white linen tablecloth and expertly folded linen napkins, set up in the main room of her very own laundry shop is one of the highpoints of her social life All those invited voraciously down wine and bread, goose and cake, and then each person takes their turn singing a song Ah, music, the universal art no need for instruments or special training simply singing songs And through the singing we are given a glimpse into the soul of each of these poor men and women, quite a moving experience for us as readers.There are a fewreferences to the arts Gervaise s former lover, Lantier, owns books, teaches Gervaise s daughter Nana to dance yes, this is the Nana from Zola s much read novel and invites Gervaise to a Caf Concert Also, at one point, bemoaning her bad luck, Gervaise muses about a play she saw where the wife poisoned her much hated husband for the sake of her lover Additionally, there is also a very important event worth noting, one involving Gervaise s sixteen year old son, Claude We read, An old gentleman at Plassans offered to take the older boy, Claude, and send him to an academy down there The old man, who loved art, had previously been much impressed by Claude s sketches This is a significant detail since in the fictional world of mile Zola s social Darwinism people are bound and determined and molded by their social environment yet, in this case, Zola acknowledges Claude s artistic talent could develop and be recognized despite his poverty stricken surroundings Lucky boy If I were raised in such squalor, I wish I could be half as lucky Unfortunately others are not nearly as fortunate or lucky in Zola s L Assommoir Read all about itif you have the stomach, that is


  2. says:

    At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I honestly believe this may be the most depressing novel I have ever read It has been a long time since I ve if I ve ever so excessively cringed, tensed up, sighed from such unadulterated frustration, and chewed the insides of my mouth from stress while reading about imaginary people Last time I can remember my eyes popping out of my head anywhere near as cartoonishly from a fiction as Zola has managed here would probably be the first time I watched Requie At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I honestly believe this may be the most depressing novel I have ever read It has been a long time since I ve if I ve ever so excessively cringed, tensed up, sighed from such unadulterated frustration, and chewed the insides of my mouth from stress while reading about imaginary people Last time I can remember my eyes popping out of my head anywhere near as cartoonishly from a fiction as Zola has managed here would probably be the first time I watched Requiem for a Dream, specifically, ya know, that sequence This is worse than that And disturbingly realistic If you have ever watched anyone deteriorate from alcoholism, this book will eat you It will eat you good That s pretty much all I can say for now, because I m still too busy grinding my teeth to continue Jesus Anyway, I guess I should also mention that it s beautifully grotesque, exactingly plotted and paced, and Zola s observations on human behavior, emotions, and rationalizations for cruelty and excess are almost surgical Ironically, it s gripping and heart wrenching enough that it may make you want a drink.I seem to remember a lot of goodreaders dissing on it, but I do look forward to reading Nana as soon as I can find a copy The way in which Zola pre developed her character is strikingly in tune with modern scientific psychological theories of childhood experiences which lead to sociopathology the abuse, genetic predisposition, brain damage, poverty, trauma, lack of supervision, insubstantial education, and generally chaotic home life are present, creating, as they say, the perfect storm I will seek that novel out once my wounds heal at least to the point of being crusty scabs which only occasionally rip open and drip Dammit, Zola, why are you so terribly wonderful and wonderfully terrible The last lines are similar to a row of beautiful, gleaming daggers I sniffled a bit That rarely happens for me with fiction, but Zola got me Bastard


  3. says:

    C est de la morale en action, simplement That is Zola s laconic explanation for L Assommoir , simply a moral message shown in action And what devastating action it is Gervaise s story begins with her in tears, sitting at home late at night, watching her two little boys Claude and Etienne, four and eight years old, on a shared pillow These are the future anti heroes of The Masterpiece and of Germinal Her first husband Lantier does not come home that night.Thus the sad downfall of a you C est de la morale en action, simplement That is Zola s laconic explanation for L Assommoir , simply a moral message shown in action And what devastating action it is Gervaise s story begins with her in tears, sitting at home late at night, watching her two little boys Claude and Etienne, four and eight years old, on a shared pillow These are the future anti heroes of The Masterpiece and of Germinal Her first husband Lantier does not come home that night.Thus the sad downfall of a young, motivated, good natured and hard working woman takes its course As Gervaise tells a friend, her working life began when she was ten years old and started washing clothes in a river in Provence Moving on to live in the poor parts of Paris, she has to face the even harder challenge of a modern factory The reader can only imagine the monstrous work environment and physical exhaustion she is exposed to, day after day, without losing hope.She agrees to a second marriage, reluctantly, tourment e d une b te de peur , and becomes the wife of worker Coupeau Their wedding party at the Louvre constitutes a lighthearted break from their hard life, and has quite a few comical effects, for example when Coupeau recognizes the features of one of his aunts in the Mona Lisa.But life remains hard, and marriage is no relief to a young woman Gervaise is back working with the laundry three days after giving birth to her daughter Anna, the infamous heroine of Zola s prostitution novel Nana.Setting the stage for the following brutal action, Zola makes it perfectly clear that a family like this can afford no extra hardship But of course he doesn t spare them he is a master realist, after all The literal fall of the already poor and struggling family occurs when Coupeau stumbles from a roof while working, and is seriously hurt His daughter Nana, sitting on the pavement, witnesses the disaster that unfolds in nightmarish slow motion From now on, the family slides into desperation, alcoholism and violence The accident on the roof is mirrored later when Nana sees her drunk father fall out of his bed, lying in his vomit, while her mother is engaged in depressed love making with her half brothers father, the suddenly reappeared Lantier To understand the brutality of her later life choices, Nana s childhood must be considered Elle tait tout grave Gervaise experiences abuse from all sides, and also has to deal with Nana s particularly difficult adolescence At one point, she is so desperate that she sees an affront in the embellishment of her quarters of Paris a part of Haussman s modernization plans because it constitutes the complete opposite of her own wasting away between different obligations and emotional strains Step by step, she gives in to alcohol and hopelessness, slowly losing all sense of pride and humanity, only lamenting the fact that one can get used to almost anything except that one can t prendre l habitude de ne pas manger Hunger is the only remaining feeling that tells her she is alive But what kind of life is it The second half of the novel describes the downward spiral of addiction in its most minute details Impressive and revolting When people die in La Goutte d Or, others just comment that it means one drunkard less in the world Such a sad life, and what a legacy she leaves, Gervaise Her children will take their childhood with them into their respective adult lives, and they will be marked by their mother s struggle for a spot to call her own She doesn t have much of a chance in the environment where she spends her life, however A poor woman, and a mother What could she have done to change her condition A moral message lived and caught in action Chapeau, Zola This is YOUR masterpiece


  4. says:

    This book the French title is L Assommoir is a depressing argument for sobriety It s also a vivid slice of life in late 19th century Paris Twenty two year old Gervaise is deserted by her lover Lantier and left with two small sons Supporting herself as a laundress, she soon marries Coupeau, a young tin worker, and they have a daughter Anna or Nana, who later becomes the protagonist in the Zola book with that title The couple get along well, are steadily employed and manage to save enoug This book the French title is L Assommoir is a depressing argument for sobriety It s also a vivid slice of life in late 19th century Paris Twenty two year old Gervaise is deserted by her lover Lantier and left with two small sons Supporting herself as a laundress, she soon marries Coupeau, a young tin worker, and they have a daughter Anna or Nana, who later becomes the protagonist in the Zola book with that title The couple get along well, are steadily employed and manage to save enough for Gervaise to start her own business Then Coupeau has an accident and thereafter the family is mired in debt However, the real problems begin when first Coupeau and then Gervaise start to drink.Lantier also returns and soon enough Gervaise is supporting not only her drunken, unemployable husband but also Lantier, who has a real knack for latching on to women willing to be treated like doormats I can think of only one man in the book who isn t cruel, brutish and or drunk Children are whipped and a wife is kicked to death by her husband This is not a happy story and things do not turn out well for Gervaise, but it was a well written picture of poverty and despair Unfortunately, I don t think the story was dated at all I listened to the audiobook narrated by Frederick Davidson


  5. says:

    Whenever I think I had a rough upbringing I read a book like this and realise I am a fluffed little pillow of good fortune I was raised in a council tenement in a backwater semi village in Central Scotland amid a backdrop of Protestant activism and spinster gossiping But compared to Zola s Paris in L Assommoir, I was mollycoddled in a warm nook of familial love and warmth.So Gervaise is hardworking laundress whose life is blown to smithereens by rotten good for nothing beer sodden bastard men Whenever I think I had a rough upbringing I read a book like this and realise I am a fluffed little pillow of good fortune I was raised in a council tenement in a backwater semi village in Central Scotland amid a backdrop of Protestant activism and spinster gossiping But compared to Zola s Paris in L Assommoir, I was mollycoddled in a warm nook of familial love and warmth.So Gervaise is hardworking laundress whose life is blown to smithereens by rotten good for nothing beer sodden bastard men Men are responsible for taking her life and flushing it down the sad Parisian cludgie, along with a family of unfeeling guttersnipe witches who make you want to pound their faces in with soldering irons Oh, poor Gervaise Zola s style pioneers the close third person, later taken to blistering heights of anal acuity in Joyce s The Dead The translator Robin Buss strikes a good balance between modern slang while retaining a sense of the original French dialect and mode of speech To translate a book that uses archaic working class slang and keep it both authentic and readable is no mean feat So forgive little slips like getting laid that creep in there.I haven t been as stupefied by a work of hysterical genius since the hectoring morality of Tolstoy s Resurrection or the brutal sadism of Hubert Selby s Tralala Think twice about that extra beer before bed


  6. says:

    Don t actually remember when I read this, it was sometime just after college I had read Nana for a class and needed to follow it up As I write this blurb I m belatedly following up L Assommoir with Germinal You really can t lose with Zola Unless you re one of his characters, in which case you ll probably lose everything To the bourgeoisie And then you ll die Probably of a terrible affliction.


  7. says:

    IntroductionNote on the TranslationSelect BibliographyA Chronology of mile ZolaMaps L Assommoir Explanatory Notes


  8. says:

    Zola may be one of my all time favorite classic writers He s so brutally honest about pre and post revolutionary France society, which was cruel and hopeless for so many So far, this novel hasn t failed to disappoint Gevaise is lost amid poverty and vice, questing to lead a moral life and provide for her children Just when she swears off men believing they are all rotten, one comes her way Can life be perfect What is ideal Zola has an absolutely mesmerizing way of unfolding the vignette t Zola may be one of my all time favorite classic writers He s so brutally honest about pre and post revolutionary France society, which was cruel and hopeless for so many So far, this novel hasn t failed to disappoint Gevaise is lost amid poverty and vice, questing to lead a moral life and provide for her children Just when she swears off men believing they are all rotten, one comes her way Can life be perfect What is ideal Zola has an absolutely mesmerizing way of unfolding the vignette that is Gevaise s existence He describes surroundings, characters, clothing, animals, nothing is left undisturbed.Life, alas, has a dismal outlook for Gervaise and her family It would be very easy to update this story by transplanting a single mother on welfare trying to make ends meet while dating an addict Gervaise s story is today s story


  9. says:

    Arrogant 21st century reader, take hold of this book,than a hundred years old, and suffer a humiliation like I did Sure, you have read all types, and there isn t a book of note that isn t in your library or kindle You feel nothing can surprise you any Plots are all predictably the same A character is introduced and you know,or less, what the author will do to him after a hundred or so pages A character who is innately good, and who suffers a lot, will triumph in the end Or Arrogant 21st century reader, take hold of this book,than a hundred years old, and suffer a humiliation like I did Sure, you have read all types, and there isn t a book of note that isn t in your library or kindle You feel nothing can surprise you any Plots are all predictably the same A character is introduced and you know,or less, what the author will do to him after a hundred or so pages A character who is innately good, and who suffers a lot, will triumph in the end Or if he must die tragically, someone will remember him by, or perpetuate his memory, like some descendants who narrate his story, or a diary that keeps him alive The stuff bestsellers are made of, always with tacit invitation to be made into a movie and make their authors rich.NOT THIS NOVEL though Zola creates characters then let them do as they please As I get introduced to the characters, I keep on rolling my eyes in disbelief with the very real, but un novelistic, trajectories of their lives Like as if Zola had pronounced that indeed life is stranger than fiction and so instead of creating a story in his mind, he just watches his neighbors surreptitiously then reports on their shenanigans like he s a war correspondent


  10. says:

    This is a novel about a working class family in Paris and especially a young woman called Gervaise who is left by her husband It s an incredibly detailed novel, too much so for my liking Every room receives a full inventory of its visuals, every character s physiognomy is elaborated, every task a character performs is described in all its minute detail The other problem I had was all the characters becameandunlikeable and it began to be hard to feel sympathy Zola writes brilliant This is a novel about a working class family in Paris and especially a young woman called Gervaise who is left by her husband It s an incredibly detailed novel, too much so for my liking Every room receives a full inventory of its visuals, every character s physiognomy is elaborated, every task a character performs is described in all its minute detail The other problem I had was all the characters becameandunlikeable and it began to be hard to feel sympathy Zola writes brilliantly and very convincingly about a working class environment but ultimately this never quite engaged me as a novel


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