Academic journal article Nineteenth-Century French Studies. Balzac's La Rabouilleuse has elicited no champions, a paucity of fans, and little scholarly interest. Notwithstanding Balzac's letter to Mme Hanska proclaiming its surprising success, critics, with the notable exceptions of Dorothy Magette and Lucienne Frappier-Mazur, have found the work difficult to appreciate. Even the sympathetic Fredric Jameson seems regretfully to have no choice but to recognize "the book's What has been called an "image" or "spatial" or "descriptive" structure subordinates all the constitutive parts, including plots, to the work's overall vision.
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It tells the story of the Bridau family, trying to regain their lost inheritance after a series of mishaps. Though for years an overlooked work in Balzac's canon, it has gained popularity and respect in recent years. The action of the novel is divided between Paris and Issoudun.
Agathe Rouget, who was born in Issoudun, was sent by her father, Doctor Rouget to be raised by her maternal relatives, the Descoings in Paris. Doctor Rouget suspects wrongly that he is not her true father. In Paris, 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 more loyal son, but his mother does not understand his artistic vocation. After leaving the army Philippe took part in the failed Champ d'Asile settlement in Texas. On returning to France he is unemployed, and lives with his mother and Madame Descoings, and becomes a financial drain on them, especially due to his hard drinking and gambling lifestyle.
Philippe becomes estranged from his mother and brother after stealing money from Madame Descoings. Philippe is soon afterwards arrested for his involvement in an anti-government conspiracy.
Max is suspected of being his illegitimate half brother. Max leads a group of young men who call themselves "The Knights of Idleness" who frequently play practical jokes around the town. Two of these are against a Spanish immigrant named Fario, destroying his cart and his grain, and therefore ruining his business. It is now that Joseph and his mother travel to Issoudun to try to persuade Jean-Jacques to give Agathe money to help cover Philippe's legal costs. They stay with their friends the Hochons.
Jean-Jacques and Max only give them some old paintings, but only Joseph recognises their value. Joseph tells of his luck to the Hochons, not realising that their grandsons are friends of Max. Afterwards when Max discovers the value of the paintings he coerces Joseph into returning them.
Then one night whilst Max is out walking, he is stabbed by Fario. As Max is recovering he decides to blame Joseph for the stabbing. Joseph is arrested, but later cleared and released, and he and his mother return to Paris.
In the meantime, Philippe has been convicted for his plotting. However, he cooperates with authorities and gets a light sentence of five years Police supervision in Autun. Philippe gets his lawyer to change the location to Issoudun in order to claim his mother's inheritance for himself.
He challenges Max to a duel with swords, and kills him in the duel. Philippe marries Flore after the death of Jean-Jacques. Flore dies soon afterwards. The book hints that both of these deaths are arranged by Philippe but is not explicit about the means. Through his connexions, Philippe has now obtained the title Comte de Brambourg.
Philippe's attempted marriage to a rich man's daughter falls through when his friends disclose his past to her father. An attempt by Joseph to reconcile Philippe and their mother before her death fails.
Philippe's fortunes take a turn for the worse after some unsuccessful speculation, and he rejoins the army to take part in the war in Algeria where he is killed in action, so that in the end Joseph, now a successful artist, inherits the family fortune. Max takes offence when some of his friends use it in conversation. Adamson translates the term as "the Fisherwoman". The nickname is a reference to the job that she did as a young girl when helping her uncle to fish for crayfish, by stirring up to "rabouiller" the streamlets.
The English title of the book therefore moves the focus from her to the Bridau brothers. In , Emile Fabre adapted the story to a play with the same name,  itself later adapted to two movies called Honor of the Family in and The French film The Opportunists is also based on this novel. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. La Rabouilleuse Illustration from an edition by Oreste Cortazzo.
La Rabouilleuse, or the Black Sheep (Also, Known as the Two Brothers)
Process Structure in Balzac's la Rabouilleuse
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The Black Sheep