L'Assommoir (The Drinking Den, Or Dram Shop)by Emile Zola
Widely acknowledged as one of Emile Zola's masterpieces, "L'Assommoir" is a novel immersed in the harsh poverty and relief-giving alcoholism of working-class Paris in the nineteenth century. At the heart of Zola's shockingly realistic descriptions is Gervaise, a mother abandoned by her lover who must learn to survive alone on what she can earn. When she marries the abstemious roof-worker Coupeau and manages to open her own laundry, life is for a while successful and happy. Unfortunately, Coupeau is seriously injured shortly after the birth of their daughter Anna, and his plunge into heavy drinking soon proves ruinous for the entire family. A contemporary commercial triumph, Zola's novel sparked discussion and criticism in both the social and literary realms, establishing the author's international reputation for a masterful use of the French language that devastatingly depicted the tragedy of realism.
- Neeland Media
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)
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Why there has never been a Hollywood movie made of this Emile Zola novel is a real head-scratcher. It may just be because L'Assommoir is not as well-known as other classics, as well as having a tricky-to-translate title. (The best one I've heard is "The Boozer," as the word in French means both a place to drink and a person who drinks.) For heart-wrenching tragedy it may surpass even Les Miserables, but with a female protagonist. Be prepared: it's not exactly uplifting, but the sheer realism is as gripping as it is horrifying. Nana may be more read by students, but L'Assommoir is a prequel of sorts. Nana appears here as a child, and later as a young woman, so you'll learn some of her back story. Zola deserves a much larger audience than he has, and his style is more readable than many would suspect. Choose this for a book club --especially one of women's interest-- and be prepared for it to knock your socks off in ways most modern novels can't touch.