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Old 08-23-2007, 05:56 PM   #1
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Balzac, Honoré de: Cousin Bette, v1, 23 Aug 2007

This is my first upload in this format. I don't use it myself, so would be grateful if someone could tell me whether it works. If it does, then I will add some of my other files.

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.
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