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Extended Audio Sample Germinal Audiobook, by Émile Zola Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (8,858 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Émile Zola Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Rougon-Macquart Cycle Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455172351
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With flawless construction and impeccable detail, Germinal chronicles the conflicts, lusts, and deprivation of life in the coal fields of nineteenth-century France.

A father and three of seven children work brutal hours, facing such hazards as landslides, fire, and poisoned air, to scrape together enough money for food. When their lodger, Étienne, shares ideas of a workers’ revolt, the family gradually embraces his plans. Soon the settlement is aflame with resolve to strike for better wages and working conditions. Savage and horrifying events ensue as miners clash with management and with each other. Where people once merely struggled for food they are now dying of starvation. The hungry wage war against the sated, against the resignation of their peers, and ultimately against hunger itself.

Published in 1885, Germinal helped establish Émile Zola as the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. This masterpiece has been called one of the ten best novels in the French language.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A great prose epic, as it has seemed to some, worthy to compare with the great verse epics of old.”

    Havelock Ellis, physician, psychologist, writer, and, social reformer

  • “Zola’s novel is a fascinating document on the political movements of the time.”

    Dominique Jullien, Professor of French and Comparative Literature

  • “Coal mines have become rare, but the miners of Germinal are immortal...[it] is an exquisite tribute to their work, their misery and their eventual revolt.”

    David Baguley, one of the most respected authorities on the work of Zola

  • “Few readers of audiobooks can match Frederick Davidson’s remarkable skill…He’s equal to the task [of] rendering this complex, yet worthwhile, novel accessible to all listeners.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Natalie | 1/27/2014

    " Zola is too long-winded for me (I read the French version, perhaps English would have not been such a pain) in his description of a poor mining town's misfortune and struggle for justice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Devin Ayers | 1/9/2014

    " An obvious polemic, but I agree with his politics (for the most part)so I gave it three stars (ha, ha). It is much too long, but this may be a function of when it was written. Some of the characters are a bit flat, but from a historical perspective it is still interesting to read. The rising tide of workers, bursting from their underground prisons in the mines, attacking capital . . . gotta love it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tanya Faberson | 12/19/2013

    " I loved this book. Emile Zola is probably one of my favorite authors, ever. The adaptation of the book into a French movie was also pretty good, but the book is definitely better. There are a lot of parallels between the descriptions of life in French mining towns and American Southern Appalachian mining towns in the late nineteenth century. Just a fabulous story... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alicia | 12/13/2013

    " Dark and depressing so far, I expect it will pick up with the miner's strike.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melinda Coolidge | 12/12/2013

    " vive la revolution! one of my favorite books ever "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elisabeth | 12/9/2013

    " I could almost smell the coal as I was reading this book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ethan | 12/8/2013

    " If I had to choose one paragraph to read for the rest of my life it'd be the last one in this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurence | 12/3/2013

    " My fourth time reading this book... It never gets old. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Sammis | 11/12/2013

    " My favorite Emile Zola novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karin Stevens | 8/16/2012

    " One of my favorite novels! Same story of economic turmoil over and over agian...nothing new is what this book taught me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carson Andreas | 7/7/2012

    " Couldn't quite get to the end, pretty heavy-going and depressing "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matea Coric | 4/25/2011

    " I loved this book. It is very depressing and brutal but it is real and that is what I want in a novel. I don't like novels that embellish reality I like those who portray things as they are. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hermien | 3/4/2011

    " Not a very uplifting story, but well written and gripping to the end. It makes you grateful for the sacrifices made by people fighting for social justice so our lives now are so much better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kirsten | 1/15/2010

    " A pretty good read, but Zola is no Dickens. No humor whatsoever. Sometimes it gets bogged down in technical details about mining. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzanne | 3/6/2009

    " This book should be required reading at business schools (spoken as a b-school graduate). A very real portrait of the struggles of the working class. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Missie | 1/24/2009

    " Who would have known that a 400+ page book about a coal miner strike in 19th century France would have held my attention and gotten me so invested in the characters. I never would have picked up this book if it wasn't on the BBC list and I admit I was dreading the read but I really enjoyed it!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie Jacob | 9/23/2008

    " le classique des classiques de Zola toujours relu avec plaisir "

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About the Author

Émile Zola (1840–1902), French writer and critic, was raised in a poor family at Aix-en-Provence and at age eighteen went to Paris where he worked as a clerk and a journalist before turning to writing novels. For many years he used his fiction in the service of his passion for social reform. He published many masterworks but is perhaps most famous for his series of novels called Les Rougon-Macquart, one of the chief monuments of the French naturalist movement.

About the Narrator

Frederick Davidson (1932–2005), also known as David Case, was one of the most prolific readers in the audiobook industry, recording more than eight hundred audiobooks in his lifetime, including over two hundred for Blackstone Audio. Born in London, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and performed for many years in radio plays for the British Broadcasting Company before coming to America in 1976. He received AudioFile’s Golden Voice Award and numerous Earphones Awards and was nominated for a Grammy for his readings.