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  • La Debacle by Emile Zola, First Edition?
  • La Debacle by Zola Emile?

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Emile Zola takes as his subject one of the most searing moments in French history: The defeat at Sedan in the abortive Franco-Prussian War, followed by the Paris Commune, in which the inhabitants of Paris, in effect, rose up and nullified the Versailles government under Adolphe Thiers. The action is seen through the eyes of two soldier friends, Jean Macquart and Maurice Levasseur.

Although the breadth of the subject matter makes it difficult for The Debacle not to appear to be too diffuse, Zola Emile Zola takes as his subject one of the most searing moments in French history: The defeat at Sedan in the abortive Franco-Prussian War, followed by the Paris Commune, in which the inhabitants of Paris, in effect, rose up and nullified the Versailles government under Adolphe Thiers.

Although the breadth of the subject matter makes it difficult for The Debacle not to appear to be too diffuse, Zola never loses the thread of his story.

La Debacle by Zola, Emile

We see the massive confusion and demoralization of the badly-led French Army; the precision with which the Germans under von Moltke defeated them utterly; the cruelty of the occupation; and the fury of the Communards as they responded to the defeat by burning down Paris. This is not an easy book to read, as Zola does not avoid describing in full the horrors of war and rebellion. Yet I think it stands as one of the greatest books about war ever written.

Nov 06, Laura Leilani rated it it was amazing Shelves: classics. Wow, this was great. This has to be one of the best books ever written that describes what it's like to be in a war. War and Peace was a mess compared to this. How can people prefer War and Peace over this work? The characters are believable, the story is very simple, but the descriptions of the conditions are downright unforgettable.

Example Sentences Including 'débâcle'

The book does a fantastic job of showing you how deeply people feel when put in life and death situations where their country, beliefs and entire way of life are a Wow, this was great. The book does a fantastic job of showing you how deeply people feel when put in life and death situations where their country, beliefs and entire way of life are at stake.

This translation was by Leonard Tancock and it was fantastic. The beauty and soul of Zolas writing were really captured. The book reads like poetry, if you know what I mean. Yes, there is one more in the series, Le Docteur Pascal - I don't expect the drama, but rather a "wrapping up. As Cecil B. DeMille did in film, Zola did with his pen. If our great captains sleep soundly the night before a battle, it is like enough for the reason that their fatigue will not let them do otherwise.

He was conscious of no sound save the equal, deep-drawn breathing of that slumbering multitude, rising from the darkening camp like the gentle respiration of some huge monster; beyond that all was void. He only knew that the 5th corps was close at hand, encamped beneath the rampart, that the 1st's line extended from the wood of la Garenne to la Moncelle, while the 12th was posted on the other side of the city, at Bazeilles; and all were sleeping; the whole length of that long line, from the nearest tent to the most remote, for miles and miles, that low, faint murmur ascended in rhythmic unison from the dark, mysterious bosom of the night.

Then outside this circle lay another region, the realm of the unknown, whence also sounds came intermittently to his ears, so vague, so distant, that he scarcely knew whether they were not the throbbings of his own excited pulses; the indistinct trot of cavalry plashing over the low ground, the dull rumble of gun and caisson along the roads, and, still more marked, the heavy tramp of marching men; the gathering on the heights above of that black swarm, engaged in strengthening the meshes of their net, from which night itself had not served to divert them.

Someone has written that this is one of the great war novels of all time. It is the story of the Franco-Prussian war. The novel is broken into three parts. The first is set in the days before the great battle of the Sedan. The second part is the battle itself, in which Napoleon III was so defeated that he surrendered. The final part takes place over the several months of the aftermath, where France - and especially Paris - descended into a civil war.

This period was indeed, a debacle. While I think the novel starts slowly, Zola's great prose made sure that I never wanted to leave it. It is not all multitudes, by any means. Zola's characters are strongly written and with emotion. I have said elsewhere that in a few years I might pick up the more recent translations. Though I have no intention of reading them all, this is one I hope I can get to again. The catastrophe of the Franco-Prussian war according to Zola. Even if I went to a French school and I did learn about this war, it is only reading this book that I have realised what it meant for France and its people, as well as for Napoleon III.

Zola mercilessly describes the chaos and lack of organisation inside the French army compared to the efficiency of Prussia , during and before the war. It particularly concentrates on the battle of Sedan, a battle when it became clear that France was The catastrophe of the Franco-Prussian war according to Zola.

Les Bleus de retour en France après leur incroyable débâcle

It particularly concentrates on the battle of Sedan, a battle when it became clear that France was going to lose. The novel has also its fair amount of personal drama through the lives of Maurice a young and idealistic bourgeois and Jean the farmer who was also one of the main characters of The Earth , and their tragic friendship. Despitemy lack of enthusiasm for Military History, I enjoyed this book and it is certainly among the best of the saga. Maybe because I've studied them more, maybe because it was the first genuinely modern war, a naive continent wrenched into the brutality of the twentieth century.

It's relatively easy to forget that the Great War doesn't have the monopoly on modern European war literature. It seems such a unique experience, at that time when warfare was changing forever, but of course the seeds of those changes in warfare are to be f When I think of war novels, I'm inexorably drawn towards the literature of WWI. It seems such a unique experience, at that time when warfare was changing forever, but of course the seeds of those changes in warfare are to be found in the conflicts of the 19th century.

The Franco-Prussian War never really featured in my imagination with regards to war literature. If I'm honest, I really knew next to nothing about it this time last year. Which is fairly disgraceful, I suppose, but I'm not French or German so the most I'd heard of it was as a small foreign policy blip that Gladstone had to respond to.

La Debacle infinitely expanded my understanding of the period, but was also just a great war novel, complete with all the themes I was well familiar with from WWI literature. There were hopelessly incompetent generals, strong male bonds, frustration and futility, lots of gore, misguided patriotic optimism, tragic loss of life; all the things that make up the universal tragedy of war, especially a war fought by an ill-equipped, ill-organised and ill-prepared side against an enemy who was far stronger and more efficient than they had anticipated.

There is the defeat of the old-fashioned methods at the hands of modern techniques the cavalry are gunned down, light brigade style, when they are used at all , the useless and incapacitated Emperor powerless to save his Empire, French glory is well and truly decapitated; the debacle is not just a military defeat, it is the driving into the dust of the French nation and the Second Empire.

The country must be rebuilt from scratch at the end of the novel. France learned early the lessons that would be beaten into most of the rest of Europe in although they don't seem to have profited much by them. Some of it was a little overblown, in typical French style Maurice and Jean: just-friends status far more questionable than Frodo and Sam , and Zola also threw in plenty of soap opera style plotlines to keep it from being just a dry military chronicle.

Some of the characters are somewhat two-dimensional, often conforming to easily recognisable moral types, but Zola is anything but ham-fisted and the simplified stereotyping didn't jar. It did, however, in my opinion, prevent the novel from being deeply moving and achieving its emotional potential.

Swiss left red-faced in French water debacle

It was an entertaining although the detailed descriptions of the movements of various army corps around various villages were a little hard to follow and informative read, and overall I think that as historical novels go, this is a very fine one. On my mother's side, my great grandparents emigrated to the United States in the 's.

Family stories implied that they emigrated before and possibly because of the Franco-Prussian War. They may also have left to avoid family members from being drafted into the Prussian Army. I recently did some additional research and understand that the conscription of every male Prussian of military age in the event of mobilization was enacted by Albrecht von Roon, the Prussian Minister of War in s. Thi On my mother's side, my great grandparents emigrated to the United States in the 's. This was probably the basis for the immigration of my great grandfather.

I have always wanted to read more about the Franco-Prussian War, but there is a serious lack of books both in English and even on the shelves. They were from near Bavaria. I even have some interesting old photographs of my grandfather in a traditional Bavarian military style uniform and he was living in the U.

After starting to read the novel, I realized I needed a lot more information and historical background, so I am putting it on the shelf for now and have ordered Geoffrey Wawro 's book The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in Apr 12, Aaron Arnold rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , history , read-in Last year I read Germinal, which was about post-Second Empire coal miners struggling to survive the Industrial Revolution.

This volume 19 of 20 of the Rougon-Macquart universe is set a bit earlier, beginning in right before the fatal blow to Napoleon III's reign at the infamous Battle of Sedan and finishing at the climax of the Paris Commune. Most of the book is taken up by a sort of buddy movie starring two ordinary French soldiers suffering through the poor organization and even worse Last year I read Germinal, which was about post-Second Empire coal miners struggling to survive the Industrial Revolution.

Most of the book is taken up by a sort of buddy movie starring two ordinary French soldiers suffering through the poor organization and even worse planning of the Emperor's ill-starred war with Prussia, following the nonsensical marches and countermarches as the leadership desperately tries to confront the devastating foreign invasion.