By Émile Zola
A los veinte años, huérfana y con dos hermanos a cuestas, Denise llega a París dispuesta a trabajar en los angeles pañería de su tío Baudu. Pero corren tiempos difíciles, el pequeño comercio está en problem y el nuevo gigante de los grandes almacenes amenaza con acabar con él. Así las cosas, Denise tiene que emplearse en El Paraíso de las Damas -«¡una tienda de novedades con diecinueve departamentos y cuatrocientos tres empleados!»-, propiedad de Octave Mouret. Y mientras Mouret rige los destinos de «un pueblo de coquetas» y los pequeños comerciantes resisten heroicamente, nace una historia de amor desafiante, turbadora y ardiente entre el patrón y l. a. empleada.
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Extra info for El Paraíso de las Damas
Page 590) Š The book which the reader has now before his eyes is, from one end to the other, in its whole and in its details, whatever may be the intermissions, the exceptions, or the defaults, the march from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from the false to the true, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from brutality to duty, from Hell to Heaven, from nothingness to God. Starting point: matter; goal: the soul. Hydra at the beginning, angel at the end.
It tells of the fall and redemption of Jean Valjean, a young tree pruner in the region of Paris, the sole support of his widowed sister and her seven children. One winter, unemployed and desperate to feed his dependents, he breaks a bakery window at night to steal a loaf of bread. He is arrested and sentenced to five years舗 hard labor in the galleys of Toulon. Four escapes, attempted instinctively and unreasoningly, lead only to additional sentences, which finally total nineteen years. The harsh punishment embitters him against society, and after his release this attitude is reinforced by the scorn and rejection he experiences whenever he must show his convict舗s yellow passport.
Hugo opposed the death penalty (the uncompromising solution par excellence for crime), not only because of the influence of his older friend Charles Nodier, but also because, as a small child, he had seen the severed heads of freedom fighters in Spain and Italy nailed to church doors by the troops commanded by his father, General Hugo, charged with suppressing independence movements in those countries. The violent insanity of his older brother, EugȲne, which first became obvious at Victor舗s wedding with AdȲle, the woman EugȲne also loved, inflicted survivor guilt on Hugo, as did the premature death of his beloved younger daughter Lȳopoldine, who drowned with her husband and her unborn child in a boating accident shortly after her marriage, and the insanity of his older daughter AdȲle, to say nothing of the early death of his two sons before him.