Germinal (Penguin Classics)
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The thirteenth novel in Émile Zola’s great Rougon-Macquart sequence, Germinal expresses outrage at the exploitation of the many by the few, but also shows humanity’s capacity for compassion and hope.
Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry, and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all.
Includes introduction, suggestions for further reading, filmography, chronology, explanatory notes, and glossary
it was beside this break, over a distance of a hundred metres, that the tubs had to be rolled, in a temperature of sixty degrees. After two more trips Catherine was again overcome with the heat. Fortunately the road was broad and easy to move around in, the Désirée vein being one of the thickest in the region. The band of coal was one metre ninety high, which meant that the miners could work standing up. But they would have preferred cramped conditions if it meant they could have had some cooler
thus attached herself in this reawakening of her appetites, like someone reaching out to plunder the first unripe fruit encountered on a country walk. Whom would she consume next, how much lower would she stoop, when she could no longer call on obliging nephews sufficiently pragmatic to accept this household regime of free board, free lodging and a free wife? There was a timid scratching at the door, and the sound of Hippolyte’s voice could be heard as he ventured to whisper through the keyhole:
La Mouquette, one of the putters, a good-natured girl of eighteen with huge breasts and buttocks that were almost bursting out of her clothes. She lived at Réquillart with her father, old Mouque, who looked after the horses, and her brother Mouquet, who was a banksman, except that since they didn’t all work the same hours she would go to the mine on her own; and, whether in the cornfields during summer or up against a wall in wintertime, she would take her pleasure with the lover of the moment.
‘Helped yourself to that other little chap instead, have you? But he’d need a ladder, he would!…I’ve seen the pair of you round the back of Réquillart, and sure enough, there he was standing on a milestone.’ ‘So?’ La Mouquette answered cheerfully. ‘What’s that to you? At least nobody asked you to come and give him a push.’ The men laughed even louder at this good-natured coarseness as they stood there flexing their shoulders, already half roasted by the fire; and meanwhile La Mouquette, also
expression, his thoughts elsewhere. He added loudly: ‘You know, if I were you, I wouldn’t persevere. I’d negotiate with Montsou…They’re extremely keen, and you’d get your money back.’ He was referring to the long-running feud that existed between the concessions at Montsou and Vandame. Despite the latter’s small size, it exasperated its powerful neighbour to have this square league of territory that didn’t belong to it stuck bang in the middle of its own sixty-seven area divisions. Having tried