La cousine Bette

La cousine BetteOn Ne Marie Pas Aujourd Hui, Sans Dot, Une Fille Aussi Belle Que L Est Mademoiselle Hortense, Reprit Crevel C Est Comme Un Cheval De Luxe Qui Exige Trop De Soins Co Teux Pour Avoir Beaucoup D Acqu Reurs Vous Ne Pouvez, Dans La Situation O Vous Tes, Marier Votre Fille Que De Trois Mani Res Par Mon Secours, Vous N En Voulez Pas Et D Un En Trouvant Un Vieillard De Soixante Ans, Tr S Riche, Sans Enfants, Et Qui Voudrait En Avoir, C Est Difficile, Mais Cela Se Rencontre Et De Deux La Derni Re Mani Re Est La Plus Facile Lorsque, En , Balzac Publie La Cousine Bette, Le Roman Doit Constituer Avec Le Cousin Pons Le Diptyque Des Parents Pauvres, L Un Et L Autre Accabl S D Injures Mais La Diff Rence De Pons, Qui Sera Le Vieux Musicien Plein De Coeur, D S L Origine La Cousine Bette Devait Voir La Vieille Fille Disgraci E Se Venger De Ses Douleurs, Ce Qu Elle Fera Jusqu La Ruine Des Siens Le Premier Projet S Est Cependant Largi Non Seulement Parce Que Les Amours Du Baron Hulot Vieillissant Font De La Cousine Bette Un Roman Rotique, Et La D Nonciation Des Affairistes Dans Le Paris De La Monarchie De Juillet Un Roman De L Argent, Mais Parce Que Balzac, Renouvelant Ses Habitudes Narratives Pour Mieux Rivaliser Avec Les Feuilletonistes, Crit L Un Livre D Action Un Livre Sombre, Aussi, Et Qui N Carte Ni Les Ressorts Ni Les Rebondissements Du Roman Noir I am no literary critic I will merely try and express what I experienced while reading this book I am glad I read it, but I admire the author s opus than I enjoyed it Honestly, it was often a struggle It has a very slow start The book s narrator, after a third of the way through, states that only now will the story begin All that before had just been an introduction to the characters That introduction doesn t read as a normal introduction you are thrown into events that you scarcely comprehend Often I was confused, and so also upset, but always I did eventually come to understand what was happening There are lots of characters Actually, the number is not the main problem The confusion is caused by the immense amount of details thrown at you When I begin a book, I have no idea where the book is leading so I try and remember e v e r y t h i n g I was swamped From all these details the author does periodically summarize and clarify so you do understand These details do serve a purpose they very accurately depict life in Paris in the early 1840s The book was first published in serial format in Le Constitutionanel Balzac wrote it to compete against another popular feuilleton author, Eug ne Sue, of a socialist bent Balzac supported the House of Bourbon and venerated Napol on Bonaparte as a champion of absolutist power Balzac s aim was to realistically describe life after Napol on s fall Given that it was published as a feuilleton, he was writing for people of his day References are made to individuals and events that were the talk of the town So they understood what he was referring to much better than we do Much is left unexplained In addition, the popularity and success of the writing depended upon keeping readers engaged Melodrama, excitement, titillating scenes and moralistic elements pepper the writing This very much affects the writing style I think he magnificently depicts the different social classes vying against each other in Paris, but as with other books written in serial format something quick and exciting must happen in each episode Do you see why I admire the writing, but don t really love it Then there are the characters Some critics say his figures are complex I didn t see them that way The reader easily spots different character types Bette think of one seeking revenge She is the cousin of Adeline Val rie Marneffe the beautiful, seductive, greedy mistress of four And she is married Baron Hector Hulot consumed by sex Let s just call him the dirty old man Baroness Adeline Hulot Hector s saintly wife.C lestin Crevel the wealthy, retired tradesman and rival of Hulot Here and elsewhere Balzac shows the importance of wealth.Wenceslas Steinbock the artist Here Balzac has a chance to spell out what it takes to succeed in art hard work You can reflect on Balzac s own efforts He wrote this novel in two months His health suffered There are several figures in the families Hortense Hulot daughter of the Hulots married to WenceslasVictorin Hulot the Hulots son married to Celestine.Celestine Crevel s daughter married to VictorinMar chal Hulot Hector Hulot s honorable brotherJohann Fischer an uncle of the Hulot family, someone handy to send to Algiers to embezzle fundsAnd mistresses and lovers Jos pha Mirah singer, Jewish, abandoned childBaron Henri Mont s de Mont janos another Baron, another lover, but Brazilian this timeAgathe kitchenmaid, mistress and..I am listing the characters for two reasons To help those planning on reading the book and to illustrate the caricature each represents I prefer complicated, complex characters I don t see them that way There is a strong moral message conveyed Yet, Balzac did have a great idea in writing his Com die humaine, a multi volume collection of interlinked novels sharing many of the same characters He completed over 90 novels and had begun over 40 You hit upon characters that have turned up in other novels You remember other things they have done and said This added depth for me In P re Goriot I met the criminal in hiding, Vautrin Here he is in the police force, and we meet of his family Doctor Bianchon was one of the diners at the lodging house Mason Vauque We meet him here too I liked this very much You don t have to read the books in a particular order, but the you read and the you know, the fuller the story becomes As in real life, as with real people, the you learn about each, the interesting they become You become curious for The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Johanna Ward Kate Reading She knows how to pronounce French correctly That is important For me she spoke too quickly She dramatizes, but she does this well Me, I would give the narration four stars.So the book IS worth reading, but it is difficult You have to pay close attention It is by no means an easy read For me it was a bit too didactic, a bit to melodramatic, its characters a bit too simplified The next I will read from the Com die humaine will be Eug nie Grandet My curiosity has been piqued and I do want , but I need a breather first. SWEET LAND OF LIBERTINES If you fancy yourself a moralist, you may wanna skip this one As the undoubted precursor to playbook for modern day soap operas, Cousin Bette involves marital cruelty, sexual blackmail, spite filled revenge, prostitution, unconscionable adultery, women with irresistible sexual allure to men, men and women having a number of different sexual partners in a day , theft, poisons, passion filled murder, and just about every other sin and demoralizing character defect one can imagine It seemed realistic and true to the human condition an exploration of a society uninhibited Balzac wrote Cousin Bette in 1847 in France at the height of the libertine philosophy holding that one need not be restrained by the morals of society, including monogamy and marriage, but should instead seek out and enjoy all of life s pleasures particularly a variety of sexual partners with no regard to harm done to others Note my uneducated synopsis of Libertinism, which also fits my idea of biblical Sodom and Gomorrah.Here, money and sex are bartering and blackmail chips virtues like honor and loyalty take second seat to instant gratification and debauchery Guilt and regret are non existent.The name is somewhat misleading Cousin Bette is the old maid jilted by her infatuation for Wenceslas in favor of her angelic cousin Hortense Hurlot As a result, she schemes to ruin the Hurlot family through a temptress named Madame Marneffe, who is as easy as an old shoe Daddy Hurlot and the Mayor are also sleeping with the Mdme I cannot start describing the rest of the story without going down a path littered with raunch and degradation.I wanted to read at least one Balzac novel so I picked this one and read it a few summers back review updated from then I give it 4 stars because there is something to be said for keeping all this straight and being the primary trailblazer of realism in fiction Plus this is just a part of a larger, loosely tied sequence of novels and short stories, La Comedie humaine, in which Balzac presented his panoramic view of life in France after Napoleon s downfall in 1815 So many great authors followed his lead in the 20th century in Europe and America and set the world afire down so many different paths toward truth and humanity that are each so unique. Despite some narrative leaps and a reversal of fortune for several of the characters, I truly loved this novel It was a perfect, snowy weekend for such The pacing, except for the end, was sublime and supported with equal measures of vitriol and detail.There is much to say about a family in decline, if not peril I rank Cousin Bette with Buddenbrooks and The Sound and the Fury. My first Balzac I had the impression, somewhere, that I would have to sit through some dreary pompous horrorshow, perhaps pulpy purple prose with a plethora of prodigious penuries.But to be sure, I did get a horrorshow, but not the kind I expected Indeed, I had a great time once I fell into a certain kind of groove You know what I mean The kind that you get into when reading a good Stephen King novel, revving up with a huge cast of dispicable human beings whom you have a great time rooting for their ultimate demises Hopefully with some supernatural beastie tormenting them to their dooms Or devils dragging them to suddenly opening graves Something like that.To think that this was considered one of the great REALIST novels By a realist novelist In all honesty, it reads like the plot of some 1980 s daytime soap opera but placed in post Napoleonic France Enter the mass philandering Baron and his wife who doesn t care Enter the disgruntled spinster who, just after finding a taste of love, has her younger cousin come in like a bitch to scoop him up, sending the spinster into a whirlwind of Italian rage and vengeance that will last the rest of their lives Is this total preoccupation with Sex and Death funny Yep As I said, I m a fan of Stephen King I rooted for EVERYONE S ultimate tragedy If this is realism, then what does that say about me Hmmmm oh my. This tale involves a byzantine plan of revenge by old maid Bette over the theft of a young sculptor she had designs for It was a great device for all the greedy aristocratic people to achieve their just deserts There is also a satisfying comic touch in the way her courtesan confidante is able to juggle four lovers and play them off against each other But the narrative bogs down for me a lot over the repetitive competition for each others mistresses and arcane schemes for money Still, as an audiobook experience with a free Librivox recording on my commutes to work, it was a diverting sociological experience with Paris society circa 1830 and a nice window on the French tradition of blending realism with romanticism. This is the third time I have read this late masterpiece of Balzac s and it got better with each reading There have been other novels mostly European about men who have ruined themselves for illicit love of other women, but Balzac s Baron Hector Hulot goes further than any of them At the beginning of Cousin Bette, he is at his apogee married to a loving woman, with two loving adult children and an incredible itch for what willing young women have to offer I will not say what happens to him in the end, but his fall is precipitous and involves the ruin of his brother, his uncle who commits suicide , and numerous others who are tangentially affected by his ways.Rather than summarize the story, which the author handles masterfully, I thought I would discuss what makes for a great Balzac novel 1 The best Balzac stories show temptations or character weaknesses to which the hero or heroine yields, and for which he or she suffers grievously This ranges from the lecherousness of Hulot to the improvidence of C sar Birotteau the perfumer to the excessive indulgence of Old Goriot to his daughters to the blind ambition of Balthazar Claes in The Quest for the Absolute to find the alchemist s stone Perhaps the classical plot in this respect is The Wild Ass s Skin.2 Behind the best Balzac plots are demoniacal moneylenders who are never, ever bested in their transactions with mere mortals In Cousin Bette, there is Vauvinet, but the best moneylender in his work is the eponymous hero of Gobseck.3 Balzac s Paris is full of young dandies on the make who act as a kind of Greek chorus to the story Perhaps the best depiction of them is in Lost Illusions.4 Envy plays an outsize role in the world of Balzac Whenever someone looks to be doing well, often one finds a sort of cabal forming to do him or her in And this cabal is every bit as relentless as the moneylenders, with whom they are frequently in cahoots Again, Lost Illusions is a prime example This is related to the extreme vengeance that plays such a large part in Cousin Bette and Cousin Pons.5 Not only evil, but good, sometimes acts under the cover of a seemingly all powerful secret society The classical case are the three stories collected under the title The Thirteen For good, there is Mme de la Chanterie, who appears in the current novel and also, at greater length, in The Wrong Side of Paris In Cousin Bette, we see the archvillain Vautrin, now become chief of police, working with dubious villains like Mme Nourrisson, to help Victorine Hulot wreak revenge on Mme de Marneffe.6 There is something Mephistophelian in Balzac s best villains, especially Vautrin in the three or four novels in which he figures as a major character I would have to include Mme de Marneffe, whose avarice is matched only by the unbridled lust of her lovers.7 Although Balzac keeps returning to the balm of the Catholic Church, he likes to let his victims twist in the wind before they get any of the Church s benefits.8 There are frequently large sums of money involved in highly complex financial transactions that defy anyone whose knowledge of French economics of the July monarchy is less than professorial In this edition, in fact, there is an appendix entitled Money Plot of Cousin Bette Having read it, I m still in the dark.9 Balzac virtually invented the idea of the same characters appearing in two or or even a dozen stories Doctor Bianchon is, I believe, in over thirty of them The Balzac you read including the minor works and the shorter stories the you will appreciate novels like this one, in which dozens of characters reappear elsewhere.In short, looking back at the many Balzac novels I have read and I have read most of them I find myself looking at what its author called The Human Comedy men and women who fall far short of the ideal and are grievously punished for it The five novels I will list here are among the greatest works from the mind of man and well deserving of close study by anyone who is interested in how human beings fall short of their hopes and aspirations a P re Goriot b Lost Illusions c A Harlot High and Low d Cousin Bette and e Cousin Pons I could easily have expanded the number to ten, or fifteen, or even. Spoilers Inside Sigh It is a shame to give only 3 stars to a book so eloquently written, but what will linger in my mind about Cousin Bette 30 years from now will most likely be the rotten taste it has left in my mouth, not the honey dipped words The first star was lost because I had to suffer through long sections of Balzac s rambling, misguided moralizing His sermons seem to cover all topics, from the high handed judgment of a variety of races to the merits of good breeding I like an author to fascinate me such that I feel like I would not be worthy to hold a conversation with them, if we were to meet Unfortunately, I got the feeling that Balzac would be a remarkably loud and boring dinner guest who liked to listen to himself better than anyone else.The second star was lost because I was left completely unsatisfied Now don t tell me that if I want a happy ending I should go find a children s book Here s the deal the character who is punished by the vengeance of God, as it was painted, Madame Marneffe of course, is not really the one I cared to see brought to justice Yes, she was terrible and cruel But who is to blame the woman who mercilessly steals a family s honor and fortune, or the stupid and selfish man who hands it over to her willingly No, I didn t really care about the Madame s fate And Bette couldn t have been punished any judiciously than she was in the end But the Baron What justice did he receive None, of course And while Adeline s character was honorable, on some level I see her impassioned hunt for him through the slums of Paris to be one of complete selfishness He didn t want to come home, as he said and demonstrated to the very end He even wished her dead, even so when he came home, so she couldn t very well have saved him from God s wrath I realize that she was supposed to have not seen this, but it certainly doesn t leave one impressed with Balzac s idea of perfect virtue It seems that his definition of virtue boils down to martyrdom And what a convenient bar to set for a woman of 19th century Paris Further, in the end Balzac glorifies Crevel, putting his vanity up on a pedestal as some mark of greatness Well then, take me to the nearest Porsche dealer and find me a real genius Really, the only two characters I respected in the whole thing were Hortense and Victorin Hortense, for the most part, nips her husband s insults in the bud She has the wherewithal to throw him to his transparent Madame and not suffer a lifetime of pointless martyrdom that makes no one the better And Victorin pulls his family together in their time of disgrace, proving to be the only thing standing between Lisbeth and her vengeance So I feel that mine and Balzac s definitions of vice and virtue differ markedly, and not in ways that can be accounted for simply by the passage of 150 years. Compelling and unsavory characters drew me into Honore de Balzac s Cousin Bette 1846 The main plot centers on Cousin Bette s revenge on her family however, all the stories which make up the novel are imbued by obsessions which drive the narrative to its dark end Much of how I described Balzac s earlier novel, Pere Goriot, holds true for Cousin Bette Balzac s impressively exhaustively detailed style is at work here The layers of detail allow readers to immerse themselves in early 19th century French society in general and specifically in the depiction of the drawn out spiteful vengeance Bette exacts on her family Once immersed, it can be overwhelming to stand in Balzac s world, but it s probably as close as any of us will get to hanging out with scheming relatives in 19th century France. Lisbeth Fischer is consumed with hatred for her cousin, Adeline Hulot Cousin Adeline has married a Baron and come up in the world, and Bette is the poor spinster relation, who has to work for part of her living and depends on the charity of the family for the remainder Cousin Adeline s husband, the Baron Hulot, is a despicable womanizer who ruins himself for love , uh make that lust Nothing to envy in Adeline s life at allI d have rather had the independence of Lisbeth, but then Lisbeth never bothers to enjoy her independence except in the ways that it gives her opportunity to take revenge and help to destroy her family.Balzac does some great character development, especially with his female characters Valerie Marneffe is the epitome of the beautiful woman who manipulates men for money, her husband the consummate cur, Bette the picture of a soul driven by jealousy and pettiness, and Steinbock is all the artist who squanders his talent and good fortunes might ever be His good characters are weaker, in my mind Adeline becomes almost a caricature, and does all the fainting, enduring and praying to excess, Victorin is almost too willing to sacrifice for his father s sake, and Clementine too forgiving of hers I did enjoy parts of this novel immensely, at other times I wished to speed up the narrative and push Balzac toward some conclusion I was troubled by the ages of the girls that Hulot pursues, fourteen and sixteen year olds who are often already overly acquainted with the world But, I kept reminding myself that this is Paris of the early 1800s and seventy year old men bedding fourteen year old girls might not have shocked a soul, particularly if the old men were Barons.I debated long about whether my 3.5 star rating should be rounded up or down, finally settling for down While there was much I did like about the novel, it falls short of being a truly captivating read I am glad to have read it, however, since it is only the second Balzac I have tackled.

Honor de Balzac was a nineteenth century French novelist and playwright His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Com die humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napol on Bonaparte in 1815.Due to his keen observation of fine detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the found

➯ La cousine Bette Read ➸ Author Honoré de Balzac –
  • Mass Market Paperback
  • 527 pages
  • La cousine Bette
  • Honoré de Balzac
  • French
  • 12 May 2018
  • 9782253010678

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