La Bête Humaine (unabridged)

Audio Sample

Émile Zola

La Bête Humaine

Read by Leighton Pugh


Against the backdrop of political and legal corruption in Second Empire France, La Bête Humaine (1890) contrasts the technological advancements of the Machine Age with the primitive and timeless human impulse to possess through killing and to kill through possession. The lives of two railwaymen on the Paris to Le Havre line are fatally entwined by their love for the same woman in this shocking account of brutal violence, greed, revenge and repression. In the wider cast of Zola’s characters, too, we see just how close to the surface of civilisation the beast within us lurks.

  • Running Time: 15 h 28 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-1-78198-355-3
    Cat. no.:NA0493
    Produced by:Neil Rosser
    Edited by:Ross Burman
    Translated by:Ernest Alfred Vizetelly (updated by Leighton Pugh)
    Released:May 21
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Leighton Pugh’s superb narration immerses listeners in this audiobook, which is part of the author’s Rougon-Macquart series. Despite the beauty of Zola’s language, the subject matter of this novel is challenging. Listeners must pay close attention to take in the complicated plot, which involves murder, homicidal ideation and physical violence, including sexual abuse. Pugh’s thoughtful characterisations, especially of women, and his even pacing settle listeners into the gripping story. His fine accents and facility with French words help establish the late-19th-century French setting. This time period ushered in the Machine Age, and Pugh captivates listeners with riveting depictions of railway transport and its impact upon community life. There is a decidedly theatrical quality to this story, which is wonderfully brought forth on audio. 

M.J., AudioFile

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