L'Assommoir (1877) is the seventh novel in Emile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Usually considered one of Zola's masterpieces, the novel-a harsh and uncompromising study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris-was a huge commercial success and established Zola's fame and reputation throughout France and the world. The novel is essentially the story of Gervaise Macquart, who was featured briefly in the first novel in the series, La Fortune des Rougon, running away to Paris with her shiftless lover Lantier to work as a washerwoman in a hot, busy laundry in one of the seedier areas of the city. L'Assommoir begins with Gervaise and her two young sons being abandoned by Lantier, who takes off for parts unknown; she later takes up with Coupeau, a teetotal roofing engineer, and they are married in one of the great set-pieces of Zola's fiction; the account of the wedding party's chaotic trip to the Louvre is perhaps the novelist's most famous passage.
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- 18 Oct 2010
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