Wednesday, 14 October 2009

This is not an exit

Germinal, first published in 1885, written by Emile Zola, represents a tumultuous time in French history, and is seen by many as the harsh but honest truth about the coal-miners strike in the 1860s. Many have praised the book for its honesty, and have seen the scenes of gruesomeness as a very frank and earnest attempt to represent the plight of the miners.

However, some have not been so gracious with their remarks. In fact, they're downright nasty. People have called the novel "Unsubtle" "Crude" "Oversimplified" and "Melodramatic". What a bunch of whiners. Some fail to warm to the novel, instead focusing on the content rather than the meaning of the content, and that's their choice, but I could not help but liken Germinal to the 1991 Bret Easton-Ellis novel, American Psycho.

This may seem like a wild and fantastic voyage to take when comparing the two, but if you'll read on for a few more measly minutes, you will realise the truth. Wow, that was heavy!

So in 1991, American Psycho was published, allowing all of those willing to pay however much access to its pages. Almost immediately, there was outcry. The content was so vile and disturbing, it was even banned in several countries, to spare the people its disgusting disgusting words. And it is disgusting, for you see, instead of miners, its yuppie bankers. And instead of France, its Manhattan. Specifically Wall Street. For those un-versed in the novel, here's a quick synopsis.

Patrick Bateman is your typical 20th century yuppie. He works as a vice-president at a banking firm, earns a ton of money, lives in a fancy apartment, parties at night, and has a loving fiance. Except shes not loving, and he doesn't love her. And he spends his nights murdering and mutilating the less fortunate people in Manhattan. The descriptions of said murders are very...extensive, and there's no denying the content is objectionable beyond measure. Whilst reading the book, I actually had to stop in order to stop myself from having to spend thousands of pounds on mental help. Its nasty, to say the least. But I loved the book. And whilst this may seem strange, its the same feeling I get when I read Germinal.

American Psycho was satirizing the yuppie culture, and ruthlessly and frankly breaking down both the disenfranchisement from morals and respect in the American Youth, and tearing down the foundations of the American Dream. Instead of focusing on the words written in Germinal, one must focus on the deepest meaning behind the words. That's why I found, and still am finding, Germinal so very interesting.

1 comment:

Chris Horrie said...

I had not thought of that connection before. If you are a creative writing type - with an interest in journalism - Zola is your man. Zoal worked in the mine in order to write. Last year a very good student - Lucia - sepnt a couple of days working in a morgue to write a big pice on the MorgueMen. Is there a form of work where people have no voice because they are badly educated where you can be like their Emile Zola - maybe people who work in a call centre of something. Does that appeal as a project. Maybe raise this in one f the lectures. Zola's example is easy to follow - if you are brave enough. But In fear that people re keener on the more fashionable type of writing which is the Freudian style internal monologue.