The Dram-Shop: L'Assommoir

The Dram-Shop: L'Assommoir

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The Dram-Shop: L'Assommoir

The Dram-Shop: L'Assommoir

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The Assommoir is the book which made Émile Zola famous. Previous to its publication he was virtually an unknown quantity in the spheres of literature and social reform. To the version of his story which is here offered the title of ' The Dram-shop' has been given; this title conveying, it is thought, a good idea of the book's subject and purpose, which last is to stay the ravages of strong drink. 'Drink' in itself is, of course, an obvious title for such a work ; but it was taken by the late Charles Reade for his well-known dramatic arrangement of M. Zola's story, and to have borrowed it for the present volume would only have led to confusion. Moreover, there are certain reasons for giving this translation a title which shall fully distinguish it from all previous ones.

In the French title, L'Assommoir, there lurks a particular meaning, which may here be briefly explained. An assommoir is literally a heavy bludgeon, but the word may be applied to almost any weapon that will fell, stun, or kill. Many years ago the nickname of assommoir was given in a spirit of sarcasm to a certain tavern in the Parisian faubourg of Belleville—an establishment notorious for the potency of the liquors it dispensed. The idea, of course, was that the drams consumed at this tavern fairly dealt one a knockdown blow. However, the landlord of the premises, a shrewd man of business, who well knew what class of people he had to deal with, in no wise resented the nickname bestowed upon his house. On the contrary, he formally adopted it, painted it above his windows, and in a few years made his fortune. And in course of time, among the working-classes of Paris, any low-drinking haunt noted for its fiery spirits became . . .

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