Emile Zola: L'Assommoir [The Dram Shop]

(3327 words)

When L’Assommoir appeared in serial form in 1876, Zola’s bold and uncensorious presentation of the seamier sides of working-class life caused an immediate outcry, and its author was held to be immoral, depraved, even pornographic. Henry Vizetelly, its first English translator, went to prison in 1889 for daring to translate it. Zola, however, saw his novel as “de la morale en action” [“morality in action”]. It appeared as a single volume in 1877, and was an immediate success — becoming the first best-seller of the nineteenth century. The novel tells the life-story of Gervaise Macquart, a young washer-woman from Provence, abandoned in Paris by her …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Citation:
Minogue, Valerie . "L'Assommoir". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 May 2008
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=11315, accessed 18 December 2014.]