Read Along With Me Parts 5, 6, & 7

On yet another wet day I finished reading ‘Germinal’ by Emile Zola.

These are the illustrations from Part 5;

from Part 6;

and from Part 7. I will endeavour to publish my review, with a recap on all the sample pages, tomorrow.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast pork with crisp crackling; roast potatoes white and sweet; carrot and swede mash; crunchy carrots; broccoli stems; cauliflower, and meaty gravy with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the shiraz.

Read Along With Me Part 4

With today’s weather mirroring yesterday’s we stayed indoors and I made further progress with Germinal.

Here are the sample pages from Part IV. Again, clicking on any image will access the gallery enabling enlargement.

This evening we all dined on Red Chilli’s excellent home delivery which always arrives on time. My main course was Naga Chilli chicken, with which I drank more of the Shiraz.

Read Along With Me Part 3

I was out of bed and downstairs as quickly as I could be this morning, but

just missed the pinkest dawn.

These were, however, the clearest skies of a grey but dry day on which I made more progress on Emile Zola’s ‘Germinal’,

and scanned sample illustrated pages from Part 3, which can be enlarged with a click on any image to access the gallery.

This evening we all dined on meaty sausages; creamy white and sweet potato mash; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; tender spring greens, peas, and Brussels sprouts, with which Jackie drank Baywood Summer Berries fruity rosé and I finished the fitou.

Read Along With Me Part 2

This afternoon I watched recordings of today’s Six Nations rugby matches between Ireland and Wales and between England and Scotland.

During intervals I finished the ironing backlog we had begun yesterday,

and drafted the illustrations and text samples of the next Part of Emile Zola’s ‘Germinal’.

This evening we all dined on tender roast duck; crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm broccoli and Brussels sprouts; and flavoursome gravy followed by Jackie’s tasty gooseberry and apple crumble with which I drank les quatre vents fitou 2021.

Read Along With Me Part 1

Yesterday’s wind has dropped, but the incessant rain was much fiercer today. I therefore continued with Germinal.

This work by Emile Zola is widely acclaimed as one of the finest French novels.

There are 7 parts to the book. Because of the number of illustrations and their positions on the pages, offering the opportunity for readers to sample extracts from Zola’s sublime poetic prose as it frames the pictures, I am diverting from my normal practice and publishing these sheets as I work my way along my rereading, leaving my review until the end.

These are the leaves from Part One. As usual, clicking on any illustration will access the gallery facilitating enlargement.

Late this afternoon, although much colder, the skies cleared; the sun emerged to share the cerulean canopy with the moon, and set over the still water-laden Christchurch Road.

This evening we all dined on barbecue spare ribs, and Jackie’s colourful savoury rice with garlic; she drank Hoegaarden, Ian drank Erdinger weisbier, and I drank more of the Nero d’Avola.

Thérèse Raquin

Such was the critical outcry labelling the first serialisation of this novel entitled “Un Mariage d’amour” in L’Artiste between August and October 18th pornographic, that Zola provided a preface to the second, 1868, edition explaining his object and refuting the accusations. Certainly anyone seeking prurience would have been disappointed.

I finished reading my Folio Society edition of the work this morning.

Here are the front boards and spine;

and the title page and the frontispiece;

“The Passage du Pont-Neuf…” in which the story mostly takes place “is no place to go for a nice stroll”. “At night the arcade is lit by three gas jets in heavy square lanterns. These gas jets hang from the glass roof, on to which they cast up patches of lurid light, while they send down palely luminous circles that dance fitfully and now and again seem to disappear altogether. Then the arcade takes on the sinister look of a real cut-throat alley; great shadows creep along the paving stones and damp drafts blow in from the street until it seems like an underground gallery dimly lit by three funeral lamps. By way of lighting the shopkeepers make do with the feeble beams that these lanterns send through their windows, and inside the shop they merely light a shaded lamp and stand it on a corner of the counter, and then passers-by can make out what there is inside these burrows where in daytime there is nothing but darkness. The windows of a dealer in cardboard make a blaze of light against the row of dismal shop-fronts, for two shale-oil lamps pierce the gloom with their yellow flames. On the opposite side a candle in a lamp-glass fills the case of artificial jewellery with starry lights. The proprietress sits dozing in her cupboard with hands under her shawl.” Thus the author sets the scene reflecting the generally stifling mood that keeps the main protagonists trapped.

Thérèse has spent her childhood and adolescence suppressing any normal emotional and physical needs to the oppressive atmosphere created by her aunt and husband. Continuing into her young adulthood it is poignant that regular Thursday evening dominos with characterless acquaintances offers the only relief from crushing boredom and unconsummated marriage, until her passions are unlocked by the brutal advances of one who becomes her lover.

Desirous of freedom to marry each other the adulterous pair devise a not unexpected solution, the setting of which offers far more pleasant bucolic descriptions along the banks of the Seine.

Zola’s narration of the deeply destructive effect that guilt and delusional experiences have on these main protagonists careers along at breakneck speed displaying deep understanding of complex characterisation, in particular the part played by thoughts of terrified minds in tune with each other. Locked together in violent passion they can no longer make love.

Two characters who light the way to the ultimate conclusion are the now paralysed aunt who has no speech and can only use her eyes; and the not uncommon device of a haunting painting.

Far from being pornographic this is a grim tale of selfish transgression and inexorable retribution with few personnel and minimal physical activity.

Leonard Tancock’s introduction is useful and informative;

and the lithographs by Janos Kass in a powerful contemporary style.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s classic beef and onion pie; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, and meaty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.