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La cugina Betta (Italian Edition) by…

La cugina Betta (Italian Edition) (original 1846; edition 2014)

by Honoré de Balzac (Author), Ugo Dèttore (Translator)

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A spinster gets revenge on her cousin's family by enlisting the help of a beautiful woman, after they take away the only man that mattered to her.
Title:La cugina Betta (Italian Edition)
Authors:Honoré de Balzac (Author)
Other authors:Ugo Dèttore (Translator)
Info:BUR (2014), Edition: 3, 560 pages
Collections:Your library

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Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac (1846)



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English (25)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Cousin Bette by French author Honoré de Balzac is set in mid-19th century Paris, telling the story of an unmarried middle-aged woman who plots the destruction of her extended family. Bette works with Valérie Marneffe, an unhappily married young lady, to seduce and torment a series of men. One of these is Baron Hector Hulot, husband to Bette's cousin Adeline. He sacrifices his family's fortune and good name to please Valérie, who leaves him for a tradesman named Crevel. Bette has harbored a resentment against her cousin Adeline Hulot since childhood. Bette's father and Adeline's father were two of the Fischer brothers. Their uncle, Johann Fischer, brought the girls up and still contributes to their financial well-being as adults. Adeline and her cousin Bette are exact opposites. Adeline is fair-haired and of light complexion while Bette is dark and rather ugly. Bette sees Adeline as the enemy because of her beauty and good fortune in life. Adeline is married to Baron Hulot, a successful government employee and one-time benefactor to the Fischer brothers. After Bette moves to Paris at Adeline's insistence, she hatches a plot to destroy the beautiful Adeline, her husband and their children.

Cousin Bette and many of the primary protagonists in the novel are afflicted with the vices of greed, envy, and lust. Bette's greed seeks to overthrow Adeline Hulot. Madame Marneffe's greed and lust are only satisfied by acquiring wealth and material possessions. Baron Hulot's lust carries him from one affair to the next and his greed deepens his financial trouble each time. Crevel's greed motivates him to "steal" a mistress from Hector Hulot only to have it cost him his life. The morals and standards of nineteenth century French society come under the author's scrutiny in Cousin Bette. The novel is also a critique of the concept of a French ruling class after the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Balzac's novel is also a morality play in that the characters are imaginative figures as well as character types. And while the story in and of itself is tidily resolved, the narrative nonetheless exposes an underside of human behavior that is puzzling at best and deadly at worst.

The book is part of the Scènes de la vie Parisienne section of Balzac's novel sequence La Comédie humaine ("The Human Comedy"). Writing quickly and with intense focus, Balzac produced La Cousine Bette, one of his longest novels, in two months. It was published at the end of 1846, then collected with a companion work, Le Cousin Pons, the following year. The novel's characters represent polarities of contrasting morality. The vengeful Bette and disingenuous Valérie stand on one side, with the merciful Adeline and her patient daughter Hortense on the other. The patriarch of the Hulot family, meanwhile, is consumed by his own sexual desire. Hortense's husband, the Polish exile Wenceslas Steinbock, represents artistic genius, though he succumbs to uncertainty and lack of motivation.

La Cousine Bette is considered Balzac's last great work. His trademark use of realist detail combines with a panorama of characters returning from earlier novels. While I do not admire it as much as some critics, it has been compared to works by Shakespeare and Tolstoy. It is considered both a turning point in the author's career and a prototypical naturalist text. The novel explores themes of vice and virtue, as well as the influence of money on French society. Bette's relationship with Valérie is also seen as an important exploration of homoerotic themes. I would compare it with Dickens although it lacks his humor and overall seems more bitter. The best of Dickens, by contrast, usually focuses more on a positive character. ( )
  jwhenderson | Sep 27, 2020 |
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. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I've always wondered about the part in The Music Man, when an imposing woman wanders through spouting "Balzac!" at various points when they're worrying about the degeneration that is likely to happen to young people who don't have proper diversions, like a community band as opposed to things bound to lead to trouble (which starts with 't', that rhymes with 'p' and stands for pool...or something like that—also Balzac starts with 'b' which rhymes with 'p' that....). Anyway, I had the vague feeling that reading Balzac must cause some kind of moral decay. So, a couple of years ago, I hunted up a Balzac book, Father Goriot, and it didn't seem all that racy to me. It was ok, if not first class.

Now that I'm reading Cousine Bette, I'm getting a better idea. People are ruining themselves financially so that they can have mistresses. I'm not much into mistresses myself. I guess I was brought up too much of a Puritan, or Calvinist or something, to understand the appeal.

So, I had problems with this book. It's basically a story of moral decay. Cousine Bette (my spouse, a French teacher, would kill me if I used the barbarous Americanization of her name that was used in the translation I read), is a poor relation. Her "better" relations choose to steal from her when it suits them and ignore her otherwise. She becomes eccentric. Eventually, she takes up with a starving artist type, being his mentor and benefactress (but not his lover). But when her more well-off relations steal the young man for Cousine Bette's niece, she vows retaliation. She begins a covert campaign to ruin the family by having the men all lose their fortunes, and then some, to a young "courtesan", i.e. a high-class 'ho', or mistress, if you will.

I dunno, the book was interestingly enough written, and I suppose one could view it as humorous. For some reason my older sister thought it was hilarious. I would have expected her to have been brought up as much of a Calvinist Puritan as I was.

One other problem I had with the book, which isn't really Balzac's fault, is that there were lots of cultural references—some to Greek and Roman classics, some to historical French culture—that I didn't really understand. So, I'm sure that had I been better educated, I'd have gotten more out of this book. As it is, I think I'm likely done with Balzac. ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
La Cousine Bette est le récit d’une vengeance implacable, celle d’une vieille fille, Lisbeth Fischer, qui travaille à la destruction systématique d’une famille – sa famille. Le poison de jalousie et de haine qu’elle distille répand autour d’elle son venin mortifère ; la toile arachnéenne qu’elle tisse empiège ceux qui ont ouvert la boîte de Pandore de ses passions contrariées.
Nul ne sortira indemne de ce thriller réaliste, pas même le lecteur de Balzac, plongé dans un monde gangrené par la bassesse humaine et le pouvoir de l’argent. «La Cousine Bette prendra place à côté de mes grandes œuvres,» prophétisait Balzac en 1846. La postérité lui donne raison : premier volet du diptyque des Parents pauvres, ce récit noir de jais est l’une des cimes de la création romanesque du XIXe siècle.
  Haijavivi | Jun 9, 2019 |
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. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
De wereld van deze roman is bevolkt met slechte karakters die elkaar poeslief en elegant ten val willen brengen. Hun gedragingen zijn bedriegelijk en leugenachtig, ze zijn altijd op eigen voordeel uit, alles wat ze zeggen maakt deel uit van hun machtsspel. De woorden van nicht Bette geven precies weer hoe de mensen met elkaar omgaan: ,,Je moet de mensen in de maatschappij zien als gereedschap dat je opneemt, gebruikt en weer weglegt al naar het je van dienst kan zijn.'

Balzac heeft niet alleen zijn personages breeduit getekend, ook in de talloze voortreffelijke dialogen, hij heeft daarnaast veel aandacht besteed aan de decors, waarin zij hun menselijke komedie opvoeren. Straten en wijken van Parijs beschrijft hij, interieurs van verschillende stand, veel couleur locale waar de feuilletonlezers van destijds al evenzeer van gesmuld zullen hebben als wij nu doen, die er de historische situatie beter door leren kennen.
added by PGCM | editTrouw, Tom van Deel (Dec 10, 1999)
a Cousine Bette is een adembenemend melodrama, waarin een keurige familie te gronde wordt gericht door de ongeneeslijke wellust van de heer des huizes en de heimelijke wraakzucht van een ongetrouwde en verbitterde nicht. Het aardige is dat nicht Bette, bijgenaamd `de Geit', door de familieleden juist als een loyale vertrouwelinge en beschermengel wordt gezien, met als gevolg dat zij tegen het eind snikkend rond haar sterfbed staan.

Van Bette schrijft Balzac dat zij `heerste, net als de jezuïeten, in het verborgene'. Pas de niets verhullende blik van de schrijver legt de waarheid bloot. `Hortenses ogen vulden zich met tranen, en van die aanblik genoot Bette met volle teugen, zoals een kat slobbert van de melk'. Voordien is Bette dan al afgeschilderd als een primitieve `natuurmens', gedreven door slechts één passie: afgunst jegens haar even mooie als deugdzame nicht Adeline, die getrouwd is met de wellustige baron Hulot. Ooit een hoge ambtenaar van Napoleon, ruïneert deze Hulot zichzelf en zijn familie door fortuinen uit te geven aan zijn maîtresses, die hem op hun beurt gewetenloos bedriegen. Het kost nicht Bette niet veel moeite om hem stiekem tot instrument van haar wraak te maken, nadat hij verliefd is geworden op haar doortrapte, maar beeldschone buurvrouw. De plot van de roman, vol list, bedrog en zelfs een dubbele gifmoord, herinnert aan die van een boulevardstuk, zoals wel vaker bij Balzac, maar dat vergeet en vergeef je moeiteloos dankzij de energie en de vaart, waarmee het verhaal op zijn fatale ontknoping afstevent.


In het voorwoord bij de Comédie humaine betoogt Balzac dat de schrijver niet alleen de `secretaris' van de geschiedenis, maar ook de `leermeester van de mens' moet zijn. Katholicisme en monarchie worden door hem aangeprezen als de twee onmisbare pijlers van de samenleving. Hij verdedigt zich daarom tegen het verwijt van `immoraliteit', dat elke `dappere' schrijver naar het hoofd krijgt geslingerd, en hij wijst erop dat bij hem de misdaad nooit ongestraft blijft. Inderdaad, in La Cousine Bette krijgen de schurken tenslotte niet de kans de vruchten te plukken van hun boosaardige intriges.
added by PGCM | editNRC, Arnold Heumakers (Jul 2, 1999)

» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Balzac, Honoré deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crawford, Marion AytonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lorant, AndréEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lysy, KatiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prose, FrancineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raine, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saintsbury, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuulos, MarkettaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Towards the middle of July in the year 1838, one of those vehicles called "milords," then appearing in the Paris squares for the first time, was driving along the rue de l'Universite, bearing a stout man of medium height in the uniform of a captain in the National Guard.
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'Wat is de oorzaak van dit diepgewortelde kwaad?' vroeg de barones.
'Het verlies van religie,'antwoordde de arts, 'en de machtsovername van het kapitaal wat niets anders is dan verstokte zelfzucht. Vroeger betekende geld niet alles; voor de mensen golden toen hogere belangen en waarden, zoals een edelmoedige inborst, talent en het je inzetten voor de gemeenschap. Maar tegenwoordig heeft de wet het geld verheven tot de standaard waar alles aan wordt afgemeten, en het bezit ervan bepaalt iemands bevoegdheid in de politiek! Zo zijn sommige magistraten niet verkiesbaar, Jean-Jacques Rousseau zou niet verkiesbaar zijn! Door de steeds verdergaande verdeling van de erfgoederen wordt iedereen al op zijn twintigste ertoe gedwongen om in de eerste plaats aan zichzelf te denken. En nu hier in Frankrijk, ondanks de loffelijke pogingen van degenen die een reveil van het katholicisme nastreven, het religieus bewustzijn verdwijnt, is de noodzaak om fortuin maken maar een stap verwijderd van grootscheepse malversaties.
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A spinster gets revenge on her cousin's family by enlisting the help of a beautiful woman, after they take away the only man that mattered to her.

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La Cousine Bette est le récit d’une vengeance implacable, celle d’une vieille fille, Lisbeth Fischer, qui travaille à la destruction systématique d’une famille – sa famille. Le poison de jalousie et de haine qu’elle distille répand autour d’elle son venin mortifère ; la toile arachnéenne qu’elle tisse empiège ceux qui ont ouvert la boîte de Pandore de ses passions contrariées.
Nul ne sortira indemne de ce thriller réaliste, pas même le lecteur de Balzac, plongé dans un monde gangrené par la bassesse humaine et le pouvoir de l’argent.
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