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Au Bonheur Des Dames

With its go-for-broke commitment to evoking the rhythms of modern Paris, watching Au bonheur des dames feels a little like skydiving without a parachute. Silent film is nearly extinct, the bottom has dropped out, and Julien Duvivier is using everything in his arsenal. I watched this after consuming nearly three dozen 1930 talkies. Though sound films of the year are far less collectively creaky than history gives them credit for, it was still a considerable jolt to be unclipped from the technological constraints of fuzzy sounds and rational worlds.

Au bonheur des dames


Abstract: "This thesis is a study of the practice of fla^nerie ("strolling") in three novels by the nineteenth-century French author and purveyor of Naturalism, Emile Zola: There`se Raquin, La Curee, and Au Bonheur des dames. Fla^nerie, the dual activity of walking and observing, constitutes a spatial and visual negotiation of the urban landscape. As defined by Charles Baudelaire and redefined by the twentieth-century German Marxist critic, Walter Benjamin, the fla^neur is a leisurely male stroller with an ambiguous role in the changing metropolis. The possibility of a female fla^neuse raises fundamental questions about the role of women in urban public life. In the course of this thesis, I expose the presence and nature of a Zolian fla^neuse by examining the cases of his female characters in the three novels and their relation to existing social limitations and new possibilities for emancipation in late nineteenth-century Paris. In the end, I propose that the successful and failed fla^nerie of these characters highlights the paradoxes of women in the new spaces of modernity, areas devoted to leisure, consumerism, and spectatorship."--Abstract from author supplied metadata. 041b061a72

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