Germinal Author:Emile Zola, Leonard Tancock (Translator) Zola's masterpiece of working life, Germinal (1885), exposes the inhuman conditions of miners in northern France in the 1860s. By Zola's death in 1902 it had come to symbolize the call for freedom from oppression so forcefully that the crowd which gathered at his State funeral chanted "Germinal! Germinal!" — While it is... more » a dramatic novel of working life and everyday relationships, Germinal is also a complex novel of ideas, given fresh vigor and power in this new translation. It is also the thirteenth book in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, which celebrates its centenary in October 1993 with a new film version of Germinal starring Gerard Depardieu.« less
If you've ever wanted to say you read a classic French novel, but have always found it too painful, try Zola's classic. Beautifully written story full of humanity and desperation but also courage. Easy to see why it's stood the test of time.