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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.   

Considered by André Gide to be one of the 10 greatest novels in the French language, Germinal is a brutal depiction of the poverty and wretchedness of a mining community in Northern France under the second empire. 

At the centre of the novel is Etienne Lantier, a handsome 21-year-old mechanic, intelligent but with little education and a dangerous predisposition to murderous, alcoholic rage. Germinal tells the parallel story of Etienne's refusal to accept what he appears destined to become and of the miners' difficult decision to strike in order to fight for a better standard of life.

©2019 Émile Zola, Roger Pearson (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Germinal

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A Favorite

So glad to have a modern translation expertly and movingly read. I will listen to this again.

3 people found this helpful

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A bit long but really very insightful

Highly recommend this accessible and well performed version of Germinal.

I was impressed by the modern feel to the writing, mostly no doubt down to Zola’s brilliance but I suspect this is a good translation. Parts did feel a bit slow and overly descriptive but the overall impression is highly positive. Zola’s portrayal of pretty much all the characters in the book, with the odd exception, is complex and nuanced. Surprises for me included the frequent and explicit reference to or description of sex (potential readers can judge for themselves whether or not this is what they want to read about). Some really memorable episodes throughout the book describing food, joy, violence and horror.

Good performance by the actor, his ‘working class’ English accent was a good match for the story. I had some initial misgivings about the prononciation of French but on balance, the actor was consistent and I though appropriate and well paced. The final hour of the recording gives a decent context and interpretation of the themes of the book. Overall a great and euh “entertaining “ insight into the struggles of the late 19th century with much relevance for today.

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Profile Image for Jamie Barron
  • Jamie Barron
  • 05-22-21

Riveting story from a master story-teller

This absorbing novel looks at the plight of French miners living below subsistence level with great humanity, subtlety and empathy. Despite a strong message, Zola is always compassionate in his polemic and astute in his characterisation. Vivid detail and a strong, satisfying plot make for a great novel, really well-read by Josh Dylan