PDF/EPUB Honoré de Balzac ð La Rabouilleuse ePUB ò ð

Formerly an aide de camp to Napoleon but now without prospects Phillippe Bridau and his younger brother Joseph a shiftless artist become entangled in a struggle to recover the family inheritance in a world where to be without money is to be without power


10 thoughts on “La Rabouilleuse

  1. says:

    On completing La Rabouilleuse Balzac’s thirty third in his series La Comédie Humaine the thought that flew through my head was “That is an accomplished piece of writing”not that I loved it I was instead impressed by what the author had achieved First of all there are many details and many strands and they come together well Secondly as a work of historical fiction describing the era of the Bourbon Restoration the novel is exemplary The story is set both in Paris and Issoudun of the Loire Valley primarily during the 1820s and 1830s One of the central characters fought under Napoleon and was a staunch follower He is a brave soldier but also a drinker a gambler and concerned only with himself Money and high social standing are his goals His brother an artist is a second important character Their mother Agathe is a third The book is essentially about the Bridau family the mother Agathe Rouget Bridau and her two sons the elder Philippe and the younger Joseph It takes a while until the novel has zoomed in on these threeFirst one must get through the beginning pages of information detailing a large cast of characters events and places At the beginning I was swamped and I struggled People are mentioned they die and are dropped The large uantity of information is difficult to absorb You uite simply do your best and hope that you have not missed something important The tale that is told is complicated Important information is provided information that lies at the basis for what will follow The father of the family spoken of is one of those who dies early in the book Agathe’s elder brother Jean Jacues Rouget is also important; keep an eye on him Agathe was born in Issoudun and this is where Jean Jacues is living Eventually you do get to the central plotline and excitement mounts Much happens—there are thefts duels silly pranks that become successively dangerous and cruel There are deaths caused by stabbings neglect and murders hinted at The large uantity of details that weigh the story down at the beginning are important in understanding the story that unfolds Moreover these details make the book the excellent presentation of a passed era that it isThe story has a clear message well several It demonstrates the shallowness of those born into or have sought and achieved high social standing It draws extremely well the poverty that existed alongside the extravagances and riches of the well to do It speaks of a mother’s preference for one son over another regardless of that son’s worth Love makes one blind and that which we love most can be that which destroys us Finally it speaks of the position of art during the Bourbon Restoration EraThe book is best seen as a depiction of and commentary on this era This is for me the book’s best attribute and is why I am glad to have read the book I did not become attached to any of the characters The plot when it finally unfolds draws one’s interest gains momentum and holds one’s attention One is curious to see how the story will end Bill Homewood narrates the audiobook I like how he speaks the French the names the places the idioms the everyday expressions He captures well the milieu and the feel of the novel The telling flows smoothly I would have preferred a slower reading The uality of the recording is in parts poor The narration I have given three starsThis book has so very much to absorb I think having listened to it once I would enjoy it a second time around Knowing the plot one could easily relax and simply suck on the descriptions of places and people First time around one is too busy concentrating on plot essentials I will add one point The book’s French title is La Rabouilleuse which refers to she who stirs up the water in a stream making it easier to catch crayfish The rabouilleuse in the novel goes by the name of Flore Brazier She is loved by Jean Jacues Rouget Remember? He is the brother of Agathe The English translation by Donald Adamson titled the book The Black Sheep The Two Brothers is a third title The English titles shift the focus of the book onto the two Bridau brothers which is where I personally think it belongs Père Goriot 4 starsThe Unknown Masterpiece 4 starsCousin Bette 3 starsEugénie Grandet 3 starsLa Rabouilleuse 3 starsThe Magic Skin TBRLost Illusions TBR


  2. says:

    The novel begins in 1792 with a long and rather dull preamble givinge history to the Rouget family and as it happens this is vital to understanding the last part of the tale Agathe Rouget is the daughter of a rather nasty doctor that seems to be putting it mildly and Balzac laces the tale of Doctor Rouget and his unfortunate wife with innuendos While Rouget a petty domestic tyrant dotes on his son and encourages Jean Jacues’ very worst behaviour he loathes Agathe as he suspects that she was fathered by another man So when an opportunity arises to get rid of Agathe the vindictive Rouget carts off his young daughter to Paris and the home of her maternal uncle a grocer named Desgoings Unfortunately the grocer falls foul of the guillotine within a week of Agathe’s arrival but then Bridau a minor official falls in love with Agathe and they marry The Bridaus have two boys Philippe and JosephThrough the passing years Bridau a hard working civil servant seems to be working himself into a early grave serving under Napoleon Bridau leaves his widow and two sons in modest circumstances but with a pension to keep them in simple but genteel style At this point in the story the widow Desgoings makes the practical decision to move in with Agathe her niece by marriage so that they can pool their resourcesDespite the fact that Agathe has been effectively disinherited from her family life should not be too unpleasant for Madame Bridau and her two sons but human vices get in the way Madame Desgoings turns out to have a gambling problem and then the Bridau boys grow upAll these family happenings are compressed into the early pages the rest of the story is devoted to the Bridau brothers Philippe and Joseph Philippe grows up to become an appalling human being and at first he seems to hit his stride as a rapidly advancing officer in Napoleon’s army After the Battle of Waterloo Philippe now a colonel becomes just another of Napoleon’s bitter ex officers drinking in the local taverns sporting with prostitutes gambling money he borrows or steals from his family and living beyond his means In the meantime Joseph the less favoured but good son becomes an artist Going by The Black sheep I am sure there are better Balzac novels there are some pretty nasty individuals here that I couldn't wait to see the back of Balzac uses the whole 'money is power' theme well and here we see the depths to which some people are prepared to sink in order to gain a fortune While he is spot on target when it comes to the predictability of human nature he shows a lack of respect for the reader in places after being distracted by endless details that kept recurring without adding anything that wasn't already there I will read Balzac hopefully something where I don't spend half the time despising those within 355


  3. says:

    A confusion of sheep; a sheep that is black is actually white and the white sheep happens to be black Such are the brothers Philippe and Joseph who are according to translator Donald Adamson modelled on Balzac himself and his sibling Henri Handsome Philippe fair with blue eyes is the antithesis of brother Joseph small dark and physically unattractive Agathe Bridau their mother and sole provider can't help favouring son Philippe whose career in Napoleon's army has advanced rapidly so that the young man soon rises to the rank of colonel On the other hand Joseph to his mother's chagrin is determined to be an artist what a waste of space Agathe firmly believes in Joseph’s mediocrity regardless of being told in no uncertain terms on than one occasion that Joseph is talented kind and lovingThe story starts at the end of the eighteenth century through to some time after Napoleon’s death As Napoleon's fortunes plunge following his disastrous Russian campaign in 1812 so do those of Philippe and and he leads a dissolute life Madame Descoigne who lives with Agathe and her two boys soon gambles away almost all their money on the lottery as a result of which they have to live in very reduced circumstances Things do not look good for the Bridau family The unfortunate and freuently duped Agathe had previously been disinherited but now her brother Jean Jacues Rouget who had inherited the family fortune has one foot in the grave and the other on the proverbial banana skin and that with no heirs So is there a possibility of the Bridau family inheriting his oodles of boodle? Not if Jean Jacues's beautiful young mistress Flore Brazier can help it and certainly not if the ruthless young man with whom she is in love can help it Maxence Gilet also a soldier is not someone to mess with#Such is the background of the tale into which Balzac inserts chunks of local history but there are no spoilers above#What we now have is a story in which one of two brothers is loved the other not There is an almighty battle by everyone concerned to get their hands on old Jean Jacues's money The two young military men Philippe and Maxence are both as mean as they come and one of them soon meets his match The other takes evil to new levels Throw in some gambling usury greed and miserliness malice provincial small mindedness gross stupidity and mob credulity and the scene is set for lots of action Besides potential heirs there are other factions in the story for example the Bonapartists vs the Bourbonists as well as locals vs outsiders particularly Parisians There are also religious fanatics as opposed to those who lead a dissipated lifestyle And of course there is the comparison between a glorious military career as opposed to the poverty to be expected from anyone stupid enough to not only become an artist but to also follow intellectual pursuitsHowever it is the portrayal of the main players that steals the show in this tale where few people are what they seem To briefly sum up the characters of the two main protagonists ”In Philippe’s eyes the whole universe began at his head and ended at his feet and the sun shone only for him whilst for Joseph ”His own passion was ideal beauty in all its manifestations he loved Byron’s poetry Géricault’s painting Rossini’s music and Sir Walter Scott’s novelsWhile all this drama unfurls Joseph paints#Not my personal opinion but this is or less how some of the characters see him


  4. says:

    The Black Sheep La Rabouilleuse 18421970 – ★★★★★The Black Sheep is an outstanding novel by Balzac Lost Illusions 1837 that tells of a remarkable battle for inheritance At the centre of this story are two brothers Joseph and Philippe who could not be different from each other the modest and studious Joseph is the complete opposite of the bold and physically imposing Philippe They become the protagonists in the fight against their uncle’s supposed will to leave his fortune to mere strangers that coveted his attention for years As in other novels Balzac masterfully concocts a tale that is based on contrasts – the provincial life in Issoudun vs the town life in Paris the conseuences of immense wealth vs the results of poverty the life of the upper classes vs the destitution of the working class while his moral spins around the fleeting nature of success the extent of the individual ruthlessness and cunningness and the conseuences of a mother’s blind love for her child More than any other Balzac novel The Black Sheep is all about appearances often deceiving us and the fact that “a leopard never changes its spots” Similar to Lost Illusions The Black Sheep is a tale of two regions – Parisian and the region of Issoudun France This is the time of the rule of the Committee of Public Safety the tale begins at the time of its creation and then the Napoleon and post Napoleonic times see a non fiction book Twelve Who Ruled 1941 At the centre of the tale are Dr Rouget and his wife Madame Descoings who have two children – Agathe and Jean Jacues Rouget When Agathe is disowned by her father and marries Bridau in Paris she then has two sons Joseph and Philippe Bridau while her father Dr Rouget amasses grand fortune from the brother of his wife Mr Descoings he later wills it to his son Jean Jacues Rouget When both Joseph and Philippe fall in a situation close to destitution Agathe is forced to reconsider he previous familial ties and return to his native Issoudun to plead with her brother Jean Jacues for a share of the inheritance However Jean Jacues Rouget already sees as his heiress the beautiful couette Flore Brazier Thus the battle of first wits and then swords begins between provincial Flore and her suitor Max Gilet on the one hand and worldly Agathe Joseph and Philippe Bridau on the other Balzac turns on its head the perception of evil and there are no truly minor characters in his novel In the household of Bridau villains emerge unexpectedly and in the households of old Rouget and Hochon Agatha’s godmother there are also antagonists hiding in plain sight So the whole novel can never be considered a clear cut battle between the camps of goodness and evil as Balzac is cleverer than that and his layered plotting makes sure that even such “minor” characters as Monsieur Hochon and Madame Descoings are memorableOne of the prominent themes of the novel is the fact that appearances sometimes deceive us and what we perceive and admire as the prestigious and the successful may be far from our moral principles In fact Balzac makes it implicitly clear that societal and financial success does not always euate goodness and kindness In fact having this success may signal the opposite since one often needs to be cunning and very self interested to climb the societal ladder and be perceived as a “success” in society Thus the transformation of Philippe Bridau is fascinating in the novel and it is precisely because others are blinded by idolatry in relation to him that he is becoming so powerful “In Philippe’s eyes the whole universe began at his head and ended at his feet and the sun shone only for him” and “words cost him nothing he threw out as many of them as people were prepared to believe” BalzacAdamson 18421970 62 63 The success of ruthlessness and calculation in society seems undeniable in Balzac’s world as one character notes of Philipp “If he decides to apply his profoundly perverse intellect to making a fortune he will certainly succeed for he is capable of anything and people like him make rapid progress” 18421970 311Since it is Balzac a lot of attention is paid in The Black Sheep to the plight of artists and intellectuals whose work remains undervalued and who go through all sorts of hardships in their lives Joseph Bridau is a good person but he struggles to make his living by painting alone and does become disillusioned with his career progress since he chose a career “that demands the greatest talent hardest sacrifices and longest study before leading to any results” BalzacAdamson 18421970 221 There are no strong female characters in the novel females are presented as being either devoted fools Agathe or greedy and cunning “creatures” Flore However Balzac explores admirably the theme of a parent child relationship “people who haven’t got any children miss a lot of pleasures but they also avoid a lot of suffering” and paints a convincing picture of what people will do for the love of another or out of their self interest to escape poverty meaning that the whole spectrum of the human nature from selfless devotion to complete disregard for the feelings of others is on displayDonald Adamson translator of the novel from the French to the English called The Black Sheep a historical novel and this is for a reason Balzac often tries to place his stories in a historical framework and a political situation at that time giving it an additional compelling force With his great attention to detail and immense insight into the human nature the author tries to explore all the nuts and bolts of the financial misfortune befalling a once well to do family and the actions it takes to better their circumstances All the familial intrigues finally culminate in a dramatic showdown and an emotional ending


  5. says:

    Produced by John Bickers and Dagny and David WidgerTranslator Katharine Prescott WormeleyMissing from the Gutenberg frontpage is the original title La RabouilleusePlot summary from wiki The action of the novel is divided between Paris and Issoudun Agathe Rouget who was born in Issoudun is sent to be raised by her maternal relatives the Descoings in Paris by her father Doctor Rouget She suspects wrongly that he is not her true father There she marries a man named Bridau and they have two sons Philippe and Joseph Monsieur Bridau dies relatively young Philippe who is the eldest and his mother's favourite becomes a soldier in Napoleon's armies and Joseph becomes an artist Philippe the elder son is shown to be a courageous soldier but is also a heavy drinker and gambler He resigns from the army after the Bourbon Restoration out of loyalty to Napoleon Joseph is a dedicated artist and the loyal son but his mother does not understand his artistic vocationhttpwwwgutenbergorgebooks1380 Looks delishOpening In 1792 the townspeople of Issoudun enjoyed the services of a physician named Rouget whom they held to be a man of consummate malignity Were we to believe certain bold tongues he made his wife extremely unhappy although she was the most beautiful woman of the neighborhood Perhaps indeed she was rather silly But the prying of friends the slander of enemies and the gossip of acuaintances had never succeeded in laying bare the interior of that household Doctor Rouget was a man of whom we say in common parlance He is not pleasant to deal with Conseuently during his lifetime his townsmen kept silence about him and treated him civilly His wife a demoiselle Descoings feeble in health during her girlhood which was said to be a reason why the doctor married her gave birth to a son and also to a daughter who arrived unexpectedly ten years after her brother and whose birth took the husband doctor though he were by surprise This late comer was named Agathe Inclement weather and the soothing sound of both washer and drier in action meant I hunkered down under the settee uilt with my ipad to finish off this tale Another great character observation by the rough diamond pen of Balzac Checking up on the title was something of an eye opener 'La Rabouilleuse' is the nickname of Flore Brazier used behind her back by the people of Issoudun Max takes offence when some of his friends use it in conversation Adamson translates the term as the Fisherwoman From the French Wiki of this page it appears that it is a regional word for someone who stirs up the water in a river easily to catch fish such as crayfish En français régional une personne ui agite et trouble l’eau pour effrayer les écrevisses et les pêcher plus facilement The nickname is a reference to the job that she did as a young girl when helping her uncle to fish for crayfish before becoming a servant to the Rouget household The English title of the book therefore moves the focus from her to the two brothers wikiI once mentioned to Dagny that embarking on Balzac will only happen once Zola was complete yet I don't seem to be doing too badly at 35 average per book3 Cousin Bette 3 The Unknown Masterpiece4 The Mysterious Mansion2 HonorineTR Pere GoriotTR Eugénie Grandet


  6. says:

    Justice is served in the end What a great book


  7. says:

    From BBC radio 4 Classical SerialChris Dolan's dramatisation of Honore de Balzac's entertaining tale of family rivalry and fortunes lost and won set in 19th century FranceAfter Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo Philippe Bridau becomes a reckless gambler who steals from his mother to finance his obsession She foolishly continues to idolise him and it is left to his dependable brother Joseph to rescue the family from destitutionNarrator Geoffrey Whitehead Philippe Bridau Thomas Arnold Joseph Bridau Mathew Pidgeon Agathe Bridau Briony McRoberts Madame Descoings Phyllida LawDesroches Jon GloverMonsieur Hochon Christian Rodska Madame Hochon Colette O'Neil Max Gilet Alan Cox Baruch Nyasha Hatendi Giroudeau David Holt Mariette Liz SutherlandDirected by Bruce Younghttpwwwbbccoukprogrammesb00czt0


  8. says:

    Philippe Bridau turns out to be nearly as diabolic as Vautrin I'd guess this excellent example of what makes Balzac so addicting is overlooked even by Balzac enthusiasts It deserves to rank beside some of his best work such as 'The Vicar of Tours' 'Colonel Chabert' and 'Les Employees' masterpieces that are only a hair's breadth beneath his absolute best 'Eugenie Grandet' and 'Lost Illusions'


  9. says:

    This is one of Balzac's longer stories carefully plotted to achieve a satisfying resolution It's the tale of two brothers utterly unlike each other and how The Fates reward good and evil It is didactic to some extent but also entertaining particularly towards the end when it becomes a bit of a page turnerJoseph the younger brother is an unattractive man blessed with the dubious talent of being a great painter Although he gets commissions from the rich and powerful and will earn himself a place in art history the bourgeois don't like his work and this consigns him to an uncertain income for most of his life and poverty during the early stages of his career His father a civil servant died of overwork under Napoleon and his widowed mother Agathe has no money thanks to the craftiness of her brother Jean Jacues Rouget who lives on the family estate in IssoudunPhilippe on the other hand is handsome stylish and heroic He joins the military and impresses Napoleon He is dissolute and wasteful and forever scrounging money from his mother and brother to pay his gambling debts a position which gets worse when he stays loyal to Napoleon and refuses to serve the Bourbons who reduce his pay One thing leads to another and Philippe ends up in serious trouble because he is suspected of being involved in plots but he remains the apple of his mother's eye So when he is destitute and at risk of execution for treason she and Joseph set off for Issoudun to seek help from Jean Jacues Up to this point the story has been a fairly predictable morality tale but from here on it becomes and interesting Jean Jacues is now in his late fifties and in thrall to Flore his father's ward a peasant girl that he adopted because she took his fancy He died before anything nefarious happened to her Flore looks after Jean Jacues' every need on condition that Max her fancyman and a real ratbag lives in the house too He doesn't marry her much as he would like to because he fears that once she has access to his money she will do a bunk with Max and go to Paris Max a former captain now with nothing worthwhile to do surreptitiously leads a gang of hooligans who entertain themselves destroying other people's property and poisoning dogs for fun He is determined to get hold of Jean Jacues' money and plans to use Flore to get it He is thought to be the 'natural' son of old Rouget so people are well disposed towards him little realising that he leads the gang that torments the community Agathe and Joseph despite the support of the Hochons next door are no match for these two and eventually they go back to Paris with nothing to show for their painsPhilippe meanwhile has been convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to exile in a place called Auten but thanks to the intervention of Desroche a retired but still influential bureaucrat who's remained a friend of the family the place of exile is switched to Issoudun Yes it's a case of 'set a thief to catch a thief' and the chicanery that takes place while Philippe tries to oust Flore and Max is complex but vastly entertaining I bet this story's been made into a film But as the cliché says leopards don't change their spots and Philippe celebrates his success by casting off his guise of sensible citizen and returning to Paris to behave as badly as before breaking his foolish mother's heart and enraging Joseph Does he get his revenge? You'll have to read the book to find out


  10. says:

    The Human Comedy 2198Balzac you old dog Just when I'd become reconciled to my journey through The Human Comedy being largely one of sparkles within mediocrity and my better reviews being ualified as good for Balzac he springs this on meWhat a wonderfully entertaining yarn this was Yes it has Balzac's inevitable faults of reuiring a 50 plus page preamble where he sets the scene in meticulous detail and every character as we go through reuires his or her life story from birth to be served to you but here those tales are part of the enjoyment And the main story itself about regaining the wrongly pilfered inheritance back in Issoundun jolts and races along like Dumas at his very very best The bad behaviour is believably bad and truly bad and the characters for most part are given realistic backgrounds and incentives to their behaviour Nobody is a saint and nobody is truly a devilThis novel rates right up there with Pere Goriot in the Balzac canon It's definitely given me new hope that I don't have 70 works to wade through merely searching for crumbs of interestAs with most of Balzac's works however this comes under a seeming endless array of alternative titles The original French title La Rabouilleuse has been replaced in English by The Two Brothers the version that I read A Bachelor's Establishment and The Black Sheep it's also been filmed as both Honour in the Family and The Opportunists Tracking down which work exactly is next on your list is part of the mystery of getting through The Human Comedy