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Old 08-23-2007, 04:47 PM   #1
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Balzac, Honoré de: Cousin Bette, v1, 23 Aug 2007

Honoré de Balzac: Cousin Bette (‘La Cousine Bette’)
Translated by /James Waring and Others.

A novel of about 153,000 words.

Lisbeth Fischer (Cousin Bette) feels slighted by her rich relations, the Hulots. Then they steal her fiancé/adopted son, so she plans a spectacular vengeance.
Actually, she need not have bothered because Baron Hulot is ruining the family anyway, with constant womanizing: working his way through professional courtesans, middle-class amateurs, working women and some alarmingly young girls.
Just as in life, it is not always clear where the moral compass lies. The family fortunes are restored through a complicated (and improbable) method of assassination.
The novel is written with a verve and gusto that even survive the translation process.

This was the very first Balzac that I read, long ago, in 1976. It took me another 10 years to read all the (approximately) 95 works in the Comédie Humaine (largely because I had trouble finding them in those pre-internet years).

Editorial Decisions
1. The original translation anglicises Bette’s name to ‘Betty’ throughout. I have decided, throughout my Balzac series, to stick to the original names.
2. The original translator uses the ‘N’ word to refer to black people at one point. I have checked with the Pléiade edition (the authoritative French text) and found that Balzac did not use a pejorative term, so have altered the translation accordingly. (Had he actually used a pejorative term, I would have let the translation stand.)
3. The original has no breaks at all. Like most editions, I have added a few spaces and asterisks. I have made a TOC to link to key passages in the text.

The original PG text was in Html but had no accents, so I have restored them.
This work is in the Canadian public domain OR the copyright holder has given specific permission for distribution. It may still be under copyright in some countries. If you live outside Canada, check your country's copyright laws. If the book is under copyright in your country, do not download or redistribute this work.

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File Type: lrf COUSIN BETTE.lrf (496.8 KB, 331 views)
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