Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Classics Salon (1): My First Impression of “Germinal”



The Classics Salon is another weekly meme, hosted by Mangoes and Cherry Blossoms, to discuss or blog about current classics that we are reading. This post should be published on Friday, however I was so hectic around Easter, that I missed it until today. OK, I’m four days late, but it’s better late than never, isn’t it? Plus it is a good idea to boost my blogging mood.

The question for the first Salon is:

What are your first impressions of the current classic you are reading?

I am now reading Zola’s Germinal for Zoladdiction 2015. It is my second read, but my first one was three years ago, so it feels like I’m reading a fresh novel but already knew how it would end, and some of the characters were quite familiar.

Starting a novel for the second (or more) time is a unique experience, specifically when it is your most favorite book, on which you have high expectations of a great reading. I feel the same way with Germinal, but I promised myself to take more time in this reread to devour things I have probably missed on my first read. So, since the beginning I have been paying more attention to the main character, Étienne Lantier. I have praised him after my first read; and even made him my most favorite book boy friend for Book Kaleidoscope 2012. My first impression on him was an adorable and brave young man (I quite forgot why I loved him!).

Now that I am following him, I realized that Étienne is an indecisive man. He couldn’t decide whether he supposed to ask for job upon arrival at the Voreux, jobless and penniless as he was. He has a crush for Catherine; he is jealous of Chaval, yet always keeps a distance from Catherine (out of shyness?). Apart from the indecisiveness, so far I am pleased with Étienne, he is a hard-worker and polite. Although he inherited the intolerance to drinks from his drunkard parents, he could refrain himself well enough.

Other than that, Germinal is mostly regarded as Zola’s masterpiece. Now I see more clearly why; it is the way he wove his sentences. Each chapter is always ended so beautifully and satisfyingly, that you’d be torn between staying where you were and devouring it, or continuing to the next as you were excited of what will happen next. I remember that the ending was great, but now let me enjoy each sentence with its own little greatness. Oh….I think I’m going to fall in love more deeply with Germinal after this!

Have you read Germinal? What do you think of it?


11 comments:

  1. I haven't read anything by Emile Zola. But Germinal is on my reading list :) Looking forward to your post on it when you finish the book!

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    1. Once you read him, you'll get addicted! ;)

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  2. Oh rats! I wish, oh how I wish I was doing this read-along! I enjoyed your post!

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    1. It's a quite reading, actually, if you can just slip it into your tight reading schedule... But on second thought, I think Germinal deserves to get full attention, to devour its beuaty!

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  3. Google has now eaten 2 of my Germinsl first impressions comments - I am in despair. I will join in my when I get back from my holiday - this way is killing me!!

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    1. How was that? Internet problem? OK, have a nice holiday then!... ;)

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    2. It was a phone issue - it kept logging me out out of blogger while we were travelling through Vietnam. Logging back in each time ' lost' the comments.

      But I have finally done a catch up post here :)
      http://bronasbooks.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/germinal-by-emile-zola.html

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  4. I was blown away by how much I liked Germinal, and Etienne notwithstanding the bleak setting and the hard industrial life portrayed. I really liked the character Catherine as well, and the imagery of the mines was so powerful.

    I'm a big fan of rereading and often find I enjoy a novel much more the second time through, or even the third!

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    1. Ah yes, the imagery of the mines. Thanks to Zola's great effort to study it in one of his visits to the mine. He was brilliant in observation and in portraying it in writing, wasn't he?

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  5. I can truthfully say, now, that I understand the appeal to Zola's writing. Only last week I read "The Flood", a short story of his, in order to get an idea of the kind of writer he was. I was blown away by it. His writing is so descriptive and intense at the same time, and it speaks straight to your heart. I look forward to reading one of his novels some day.

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    1. Blown away... that's what Zola does to us with his books. Glad you like him!

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What do you think?