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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.

Such patterns or images are particularly significant in explaining how Balzac left his more popular brethren behind, for they made it possible for him to focus on his view of the whole of society. Rather than having importance in and for themselves, his characters and descriptions serve as vehicles of significant meaning.

When successful, the novelist was able to subsume the plots of creations like "Gobseck," or Eugenie Grandet, or Le Pere Goriot to a pattern that encourages a momentary comprehension of the whole 2 and a deeper understanding of the shape that the modern world was taking. Balzac was, of course, not limited to image structure. The novelist was a master of many devices and structures, and his work is no more tied to a particular technique than to a particular subject.

La Rabouilleuse illustrates a separate category from many of the novelist's creations, for it depends upon different though nonetheless effective techniques that reward close reading. La Rabouilleuse should attract knowledgeable readers, in that it both continues Balzac's description of the July Monarchy and reveals the novelist's mastery of sequential or process structure.

On first reading, it would seem to justify the denigration that Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, and other Nouveaux Romanciers regularly heaped on the nineteenth-century novelist. Still, while such masterpieces as La Cousine Bette might justifiably be preferred to La Rabouilleuse, the latter is a work from Balzac's maturity and well worth attention.

In addition, I would differ with Bardeche and suggest that the novel's structure is anything but naive. La Rabouilleuse deploys a highly complex plot armature that leads readers efficiently from first to last page. The terra "plot armature" is intended to help separate narration into its component parts and emphasize the abstract plot, free of characters and episodes.

Aristotle defined narration as a work's sequence of episodes or plot when animated by a character. I am interested in the sequence or vector, including both direction and quantity, rather than in the episodes and the characters. The plots of novels could be compared to cables that include any number of strands, most of which do not continue from beginning to end.

Names, symbols, myths, biblical elements, descriptions, characters, various themes feed into and around the central vector growing in importance as the novel's significance is constructed and illuminated within the encompassing web. In most narrations, a character or group of characters make up the core of the "cable," thus combining plot and character and providing an example of Aristotlian narration. For La Rabouilleuse, however, the armature is not a character, but rather the novel takes a number of characters, images, and themes like genius and the patriarchy and weaves them into a developing, encompassing sheath as it moves from beginning to end and closure.

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Read preview. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts. Read Overview. Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol. Read preview Overview.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, Vol. David, Jerome. Watch out, Art! Merle Rubin regularly reviews books for the Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, September 29, South African literature The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Arabic literature The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Swedish literature The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

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The Black Sheep

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Process Structure in Balzac's la Rabouilleuse

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.


La Rabouilleuse, or the Black Sheep (Also, Known as the Two Brothers)


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