Assommoir L' Author:Emile Zola Not realism, but filth; not crudity, but pornography, is how one contemporary critic described L'Assommoir. The seventh novel in Les Rougon-Macquart cycle, it is Zola's monumental natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire. The story of a good-hearted, but weak-willed and vulnerable laundress, L'Assommoir is widely reg... more »arded as Zola's masterpiece and was an immediate sensation, selling 50,000 copies within a year of its publication in 1877. This edition includes Zola's response to critics who denounced his work as immoral.
Written in gritty street language and unflinchingly portraying the darker side of French culture and society, L'Assommoir transcends Zola's stated intention to expose the powerful effects of heredity and environment on the human condition and, as Robin Buss writes in his Introduction, is marvelous, warm and human...with a tragic heroine who is among the most touching and credible creations in all the literature of the nineteenth century.« less