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The Black Sheep : (La Rabouilleuse) - Honore de Balzac

The Black Sheep

(La Rabouilleuse)

By: Honore de Balzac, Donald Adamson (Transcribed by)

Paperback Published: 1st November 1976
ISBN: 9780140442373
Number Of Pages: 352
For Ages: 18+ years old

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His elegantly-crafted tale of sibling rivalry, Honore de Balzac's The Black Sheep is translated from the French with an introduction by Donald Adamson in Penguin Classics. Philippe and Joseph Bridau are two extremely different brothers.

The elder, Philippe, is a superficially heroic soldier and adored by their mother Agathe. He is nonetheless a bitter figure, secretly gambling away her savings after a brief but glorious career as Napoleon's aide-de-camp at the battle of Montereau. His younger brother Joseph, meanwhile, is fundamentally virtuous - but their mother is blinded to his kindness by her disapproval of his life as an artist. Foolish and prejudiced, Agathe lives on unaware that she is being cynically manipulated by her own favourite child - but will she ever discover which of her sons is truly the black sheep of the family?

A dazzling depiction of the power of money and the cruelty of life in nineteenth-century France, The Black Sheep compellingly explores is a compelling exploration of the nature of deceit.

Donald Adamson's translation captures the radical modernity of Balzac's style, while his introduction places The Black Sheep in its context as one of the great novels of Balzac's renowned Comedie humaine. Honore De Balzac (1799-1850) failed at being a lawyer, publisher, printer, businessman, critic and politician before, at the age of thirty, turning his hand to writing.

His life's work, La Comedie humaine, is a series of ninety novels and short stories which offer a magnificent panorama of nineteenth-century life after the French Revolution. Balzac was an influence on innumerable writers who followed him, including Marcel Proust, Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe. If you enjoyed The Black Sheep, you might like Balzac's Eugenie Grandet, also available in Penguin Classics.

ISBN: 9780140442373
ISBN-10: 0140442375
Series: Penguin Classics
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st November 1976
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.1  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 19.8
Edition Number: 1

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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