Honoré de Balzac, La Cousine Bette [Cousin Bette]

Andrew Watts (University of Birmingham)
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A tale of jealousy, revenge, and destructive passion,

La Cousine Bette

(1847) is one of the most celebrated novels in French realist fiction. In the summer of 1846, Balzac, by now aged forty-seven and in rapidly declining health, had begun work on a two-part novella, a study of familial neglect entitled

Les Parents pauvres


The Poor Relations

] (1847). The first volume,

Le Vieux Musicien


The Old Musician

] (which later became

Le Cousin Pons

) (1847), was already in progress when, as so often before in his career, he decided that both halves of the project merited a longer treatment, and should be expanded into two full-length novels. Turning his attention to

La Cousine Bette

in August, Balzac struggled for several weeks to make any significant advance on the manuscript. Buoyed by the news…

3112 words

Citation: Watts, Andrew. "La Cousine Bette". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 November 2008 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=4132, accessed 13 April 2024.]

4132 La Cousine Bette 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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