Published by ReadHowYouWant.com on 2006-01-01
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Political
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A narrative is presented that dwells on the life of miners during the Industrial revolution of France. The book gives the view of the revolution from outside. It explains not only the hideous living conditions of the labourers but also the frustration that lead to the revolution. The book beautifully balances between the individual of society and society itself.
Ah, Germinal, I have such a fun history with you. When I hear your title, I am brought back to a bland history classroom. I think of 5th period, when I learned of world revolutions and plagues, not to mention royal family trees with so few branches. I think of AP Euro, with it’s mix of football players and nerds. I remember at the end of the year, after the AP exams, since we didn’t have a Regents exam and were basically finished with the course, yet had a month of school left to finish, we watched several movies. I will never ever forget watching Germinal, and how my teacher, wonderful lady that she was, thought my class was mature enough to handle it and enjoy the film. Now, I will say I enjoyed the film. Not, for reasons any intelligent person would, but mainly because of my class. Imagine, if you will, snappy dialogue, riffing on a film which was impossible to watch at the end of the day what with senioritis and all. Oh, friends it was a blast and I still smile when I think on it.
When I saw Emile Zola had been picked for The Classics Circuit, I just knew I had to sign up and knew exactly what book I wanted to read, GERMINAL, because it has brought me so much joy. Now, here’s the kicker, Germinal isn’t exactly the most happy book, at least so far. Now that I’ve wizened up a bit, I no longer find abject poverty all that amusing, unless you count in History of the World Part 1, when they are making fun of the French Revolution and poverty lady is all “we are so poor we don’t even have a language, only a stupid accent”. Anyways, a heads up, this will not be a full review as I have not finished reading Germinal yet, curse you full time job, curse youuuu! -insert fist shaking here, much like disgruntled laborers-
Here is what I can say, Zola has a way with words which makes me covet my free time. He makes me want to drop all and journey to Coal Country, France. The thing is, I feel deeply connected with the characters I am reading about. I find myself enjoying Etienne’s character arc, although I have to keep picturing Etienne as a man and not a girl, although in my brain I see Etienne as being a girl type name. Speaking of names, I think that is my one huge complaint with Germinal by Emile Zola. The names are all French. Booo! So I can’t really keep the characters straight, especially when the husband and wife have the same name, except one name has an e at the end and then their kid’s name is the same but with an -ette at the end. Yeah, bro, I’m American and ignorant. Here in America we have plenty of names to go around, so I guess this adds to my confusion.
Anyhoo, the lives of these people is no day in the park. The people at the coal mine endure back breaking work for mere sous which are basically pennies. PENNIES to bust ass. Some of the workers decide to make Papa Smurf their hero. And by Papa Smurf, I mean Karl Marx — both have bad ass beards and are communist leaders. One is blue, one is not. A union starts — and well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Oh OH OH and there’s a lot of sexytime in this book. Apparently when you are poor, before the day of condams (OMGshoez), you have lots and lots of sex in the fields. You also drink a lot, until you become commie.
Yes, so I am learning lots of things and really loving Germinal so far. It’s full of awesome. I think you should pick it up.