Wednesday, January 16, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt eight)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

Mouret’s sole passion was the conquest of woman. He wanted to make her queen in his house and he had built this temple so that he could have her at his mercy. His whole tactic was to intoxicate her with attentive gallantry, to trade on her needs and to exploit her feverish desires. So, day and night, he racked his brain, searching for new ideas. He had already had two lifts put in, padded with velvet, to spare delicate ladies the effort of climbing the stairs. In addition to that, he had just opened a buffet, where biscuits and syrups were served free, and a reading room, a monumental gallery, over-extravagantly decorated, in which he was even venturing to hold exhibitions of painting. But his most subtle idea, directed at women without any idle vanity, was to reach the mother through the child. He used every strength and exploited every feeling, setting up departments for little boys and girls, and stopping the mothers as they walked by, to offer their babies pictures and balloons. These free balloons were a stroke of genius, red balloons, handed out to ever female customer, made of fine rubber and bearing the name of the shop in large letters. Floating through the air, held on the end of a string, they carried a living advertisement along the streets!

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