‘Buried like moles beneath the crushing weight of the earth, and without a breath of fresh air in their burning lungs, they simply went on tapping’
Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Compelled to take a back-breaking job at the 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. The thirteenth novel in 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.
Roger Pearson’s lively and modern new translation is accompanied by an introduction that examines the social and political background to Zola’s masterpiece, in particular the changing relationship between labour and capital. This edition also contains a filmography, chronology and notes.