Honoré de Balzac, La Rabouilleuse [The Black Sheep]

Andrew Watts (University of Birmingham)
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Written between 1840 and 1842,

La Rabouilleuse

captures Balzac in full maturity, reflecting both his ambition to serve as the “secretary” (Balzac, H. de, 1976-81, 1: 11) of nineteenth-century French society, and his instinctive enthusiasm for stories of domestic turmoil, frustrated talent, and monetary greed. The novel was first mentioned in Balzac's notes and correspondence in 1839, under the titles

Le Bonhomme Piedefer


Old Man Piedefer

] and

Le Bonhomme Rouget


Old Man Rouget

]. Focussing on the tribulations of a provincial bachelor, it was intended to complete a trilogy of works entitled

Les Célibataires


The Celibates

], and that already included

Le Curé de Tours


The Vicar of Tours

] (1832) and


(1840). Publication was, however, spread over more than two years, as a…

3066 words

Citation: Watts, Andrew. "La Rabouilleuse". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 April 2008 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=21922, accessed 13 April 2024.]

21922 La Rabouilleuse 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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