The Ladies' Paradise


Au Bonheur des Dames (French pronunciation: ​[obɔnœʁ deˈdam]; The Ladies' Delight or The Ladies' Paradise) is the eleventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola. It was first serialized in the periodical Gil Blas and published in novel form by Charpentier in 1883.

The novel is set in the world of the department store, an innovative development in mid-nineteenth century retail sales. Zola models his store after Le Bon Marché, which consolidated under one roof many of the goods hitherto sold in separate shops. The narrative details many of Le Bon Marché's innovations, including its mail-order business, its system of commissions, its in-house staff commissary, and its methods of receiving and retailing goods.

Au Bonheur des Dames is a sequel to Pot-Bouille. Like its predecessor, Au Bonheur des Dames focuses on Octave Mouret, who at the end of the previous novel married Caroline Hédouin, the owner of a small silk shop. Now a widower, Octave has expanded the business into an international retail powerhouse occupying, at the beginning of the book, the greater part of an entire city block.

Au Bonheur des Dames was first translated into English by F. Belmont in 1883. Several other translations have appeared since. John Calder published April FitzLyon's translation in 1957.[1] The most readily available are those by Brian Nelson (The Ladies' Paradise, 1995) for Oxford World's Classics and by Robin Buss (The Ladies' Delight, 2002) for Penguin Classics.

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