Cousin Bette (Everyman's Library Series)

Cousin Bette (Everyman's Library Series)

3.7 10
by Honore de Balzac, Everyman's Library Staff
     
 

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A hypnotic story of hatred, revenge and catastrophe in which Cousin Bette exacts a terrible price from the rich relations who use and humiliate her. This book portrays the world of post-Napoleonic France, where commercial greed and sexual debauchery are rampant among a demoralized ruling class.

Along with his wide descriptive range and the astute understanding of

Overview

A hypnotic story of hatred, revenge and catastrophe in which Cousin Bette exacts a terrible price from the rich relations who use and humiliate her. This book portrays the world of post-Napoleonic France, where commercial greed and sexual debauchery are rampant among a demoralized ruling class.

Along with his wide descriptive range and the astute understanding of society for which he is celebrated, Balzac had immense psychological penetration. All these qualities are fully evident in his story of the ferocious dissembler Cousin Bette and the dense nineteenth-century Parisian milieu in which she plots a terrible revenge on her patronizing relatives.

Introduction by Michael Tilby; Translatoin by James Waring

Editorial Reviews

Jack Helbig
Best known for his epic series, La Comedie humaine, Balzac dabbled in the theater. Sadly always debt-ridden, he found playwriting did not pay nearly as much or as quickly as novel writing, so he abandoned the stage. At his death in 1850, the incredibly prolific writer--La Comedie humaine consists of 91 stories and novels--left only five complete plays. Of these, "Mercadet", which wasn't produced in Balzac's lifetime, is the best known, mostly because Samuel Beckett may have based his ever-absent Godot on a minor character in "Mercadet" named Godeau. This obscurity is a shame because "Mercadet" is a charming, likable, if rather light, comedy. True, its plot sounds like a bad sitcom episode: manipulative, money-mad financier Mercadet spins an ever more complicated net of lies to separate investors from their money and gets tangled in the web himself. The play is redeemed, however, by Balzac's gift for creating interesting, original, multilayered characters. In this edition, Robert Cornthwaite's translation is graceful and witty enough to make even the most time-worn plot twists seem fresh.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679406716
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/15/1991
Edition description:
REISSUE
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.22(d)

Meet the Author

The son of a civil servant, Honoré de Balzac was born in 1799 in Tours, France. After attending boarding school in Vendôme, he gravitated to Paris where he worked as a legal clerk and a hack writer, using various pseudonyms, often in collaboration with other writers. Balzac turned exclusively to fiction at the age of thirty and went on to write a large number of novels and short stories set amid turbulent nineteenth-century France. He entitled his collective works The Human Comedy. Along with Victor Hugo and Dumas père and fils, Balzac was one of the pillars of French romantic literature. He died in 1850, shortly after his marriage to the Polish countess Evelina Hanska, his lover of eighteen years.

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Cousin Bette 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the rare books that I've read with a good plot that kept me guessing. To be a soap opera, it had many good life lessons. I highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one good classi that everyone should admire. Not to say Read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
there was a slight problem with the e-book. Some sentences were missing from the bottom of one page to the top of the next and caused some little bit of confusion at some points in the story.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring book. Also hard to read when you have to decipher all the typos.
MrsMcIntosh More than 1 year ago
*SPOILERS* I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I now wish I had read it (like I was supposed to) in History 103 or whatever it was. I guess I was just too busy reading the 1300 page course book we were assigned. :P For the whole book, I had been rooting for Cousin Bette. Her reasons might have seemed petty for some but the Hulot deserved ever speck of her vengeance. He was a dirty old man. I was disappointed that of all those she had focused her energy for revenge on, only one truly received the results of years of hard work. In the end, I felt for Madame Marneffe. I quickly got over the virtuous Madame Hulot. The Hulot women and Crevel’s daughter seemed weak. Cousin Bette and Madame Marneffe were clever, though Marneffe shallow. The young Hulot was the redeemer of the family. And Hulot, the dirty old man, deserved so much worse.  Honore de Balzac was racist, weirdly sexist (changed from feminist to douche once or twice), but extremely observant of the human condition, particularly of Paris in the early 1800s. He also seemed to have a deep respect for the arts but little for the artists. He also seemed to sometimes respect the tenacity of peasants while as once condemning them in disdain.