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Cousin Bette : World's Classics - Honoré de Balzac

Cousin Bette

World's Classics

Paperback Published: 1st August 2008
ISBN: 9780199553945
Number Of Pages: 528

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Cousin Bette (1846) is considered to be Balzac's last great novel, and a key work in his Human Comedy. Set in the Paris of the 1830s and 1840s, it is a complex tale of the devastating effect of violent jealousy and sexual passion.

Against a meticulously detailed backdrop of a post-Napoleonic France struggling with massive industrial and economic change, Balzac's characters span many classes of society, from impoverished workers and wealthy courtesans to successful businessmen and official dignitaries.

The tragic outcome of the novel is relieved by occasional flashes of ironic comedy and the emergence of a younger generation which has come to terms with the new political and econimic climate.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Industry Reviews

'Appended to the text is a summary of its financial plots, the complications of which appear even more marvellous when extrapolated in this way. This is an introduction which is consistently enthusiastic about the complexity of a novel which, 'in its rich ambiguity, allows every reader to explore his or how own imagination of what life is really like'.' Robert Lethbridge, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, French Studies, Vol. 47, Part 3 'Three Classic tales of sexual passion, perversion, and corruption have been added to the rapidly increasing World's Classics collection, whose repertoire of nineteenth-century French novels is now impressive. The price and format of these volumes make them an obvious choice for the reader approaching them in translation, the more so since each is accompanied by a helpful general introduction ... the reader is likely to get better vaqlue here than from other translation currently in print.' Timothy Unwin, University of Western Australia, MLR, 89./2, 1994 '... translated here into lucid, straightforward, easily readable contemporary English.' Forum for Modern Language Studies Vol. XXX

ISBN: 9780199553945
ISBN-10: 0199553947
Series: World's Classics
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: 1st August 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.5 x 12.7  x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.36

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Honore De Balzac

About the Author


Honoré 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 Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous authors, including the novelists Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James and Jack Kerouac, as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.

An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting himself to the teaching style of his grammar school. His willful nature caused trouble throughout his life, and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business. When he finished school, Balzac was apprenticed as a legal clerk, but he turned his back on law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine. Before and during his career as a writer, he attempted to be a publisher, printer, businessman, critic, and politician. He failed in all of these efforts. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, and includes scenes from his own experience.

Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life, possibly due to his intense writing schedule. His relationship with his family was often strained by financial and personal drama, and he lost more than one friend over critical reviews. In 1850, he married Ewelina Hańska, his longtime paramour; he died five months later.

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