Saturday, September 18, 2010

Oh Zola how I love thee, but you're bringing me down

It took me a little more than a month to finish reading L'Assommoir by Emile Zola. Life in general got in the way of my reading time, plus starting the semester while moving is not conducive to leisurely reading.

L'Assommoir was fantastic. If you want to read about the seamier side of Parisian life in the 19th century then this book is for you. This novel was extremely controversial when it came out, accusations of pornography were rampant from the critics at the time. Zola is a writer that tells it like it is, there is no sugar coating in a Zola novel. The effects of alcoholism on the working class was of great interest to Zola. As the drinking of the characters becomes heavier, the quicker the downfall of each character. I found myself feeling this downward spiral physically while reading the novel. The filth, squalor, and hunger of the characters were almost too much to bear at the end. I felt horribly for Gervaise, the main character. I can't wait to read Nana, about Gervaise's daughter, but I think I need something slightly less depressing for now.