Germinal (1885) is the thirteenth novel belonging to Émile Zola’s vast twenty-volume series, Les Rougon-Macquart (1871-1893), in which, by tracing the fortunes of the various members of a single family, the writer sought to study the effects of hereditary influences and environmental factors on his characters and present a panoramic view of the society of the Second Empire (1852-1870), presided over by Napoleon III. Set in the coalfields of northern France during the period March 1866 to April 1867 and dealing with a miners’ strike, Germinal was less controversial when it appeared than L’Assommoir, Nana, and Pot-Bouille, but it has maintained its standing as one of the novelist’s finest …

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Baguley, David. "Germinal". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 December 2011
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]