The Ladies' Paradise (Google eBook)

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Digireads.com Publishing - Fiction
10 Reviews
One of the most important, though controversial, French novelists of the late nineteenth century, and founder of the Realist movement, was Émile Zola (1840-1902). In 1871 Zola began to his most notable series of novels, the "Rougon-Macquart Novels," that relate the history of a fictional family under the Second Empire. As a strict naturalist, Zola was greatly concerned with science, especially the problems of evolution and heredity vs. environment. However, unlike Honoré de Balzac, whose works examined a wider scope of society, Zola focused on the evolution of one, single family. "The Ladies' Paradise" is the eleventh novel in this series, and begins exactly where "Pot-Bouille" left off. Octave Mouret has married and now owns a department store where twenty year old Denise Baudu, who has come to Paris with her brothers, takes a job as a saleswoman. The novel reflects symbolically on capitalism, the modern city, changes in consumer culture, the bourgeois family and sexual attitudes.
  

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Review: The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart #11)

User Review  - Diane - Goodreads

It was with fear and trepidation that I started Zola's "Ladies' Delight" - I was still reeling from "Therese Raquin". I desperately wanted a strong, good woman character with a positive ending. This ... Read full review

Review: The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart #11)

User Review  - Boots - Goodreads

so far this is my second favorite of the Rougon-Macquart series (after The Sin of Abbe Mouret). clearly i am predisposed to the Mourets (who descend from both family lines through a marriage of ... Read full review

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Zola was the spokesperson for the naturalist novel in France and the leader of a school that championed the infusion of literature with new scientific theories of human development drawn from Charles Darwin (see Vol. 5) and various social philosophers. The theoretical claims for such an approach, which are considered simplistic today, were outlined by Zola in his Le Roman Experimental (The Experimental Novel, 1880). He was the author of the series of 20 novels called The Rougon-Macquart, in which he attempted to trace scientifically the effects of heredity through five generations of the Rougon and Macquart families. Three of the outstanding volumes are L'Assommoir (1877), a study of alcoholism and the working class; Nana (1880), a story of a prostitute who is a femme fatale; and Germinal (1885), a study of a strike at a coal mine. All gave scope to Zola's gift for portraying crowds in turmoil. Today Zola's novels have been appreciated by critics for their epic scope and their visionary and mythical qualities. He continues to be immensely popular with French readers. His newspaper article "J'Accuse," written in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, launched Zola into the public limelight and made him the political conscience of his country.

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