This is my first review after over a year as an audible member and well over 100 listens and ratings. I was so impressed with this course that I had to write this to add to my 5 stars:
I found this course more enjoyable and rewarding than any I've had in 8 years of higher education. Though that statement may, admittedly, say something about the quality of my education, it probably has more to do with my maturity in the nearly 20 years since my last degree, and I think can even moreso be attributed to the superb professor, Dr. David Thorburn of MIT.
What a wonderful set of lectures on modern literature! Dr. Thorburn has significantly transformed and improved my vision of literature in the 20th century (and today). He is fantastic in his enthusiasm and love for the literature, the art and the artist/authors. I was sad that the course had to end and depressed when I couldn't find another lecture by Dr. Thorburn. I'm hopeful he'll consider enriching us in the lowly masses with more lectures.
You love books and majored in business or medicine or dropped out of school to become a multi-millionaire salesmen?
Now, you just wish you had paid more attention and that you would have taken that American or British Lit course instead of taking the easier route?
If so, or if you just love lit and don't care if you'd taken it in college or not, this is a perfect chance to listen to hours and hours of a mild-mannered but lively Ivy League (Brown) professor Arnold Weinstein searching the meaning and imparting his knowledge of many of the Classic Novels.
If you haven't read a lot of these novels, don't worry. For a few I hadn't read, Professor Weinstein inspired me to read these books and his teaching method doesn't require you to have read these to enjoy the course.
I'd definitely recommend the Professor Weinstein lit courses. I've bought all of them and I'd say that just an hour or so out of the course's many is worth what you'll spend to make the purchase.
If you are squeamish or prudish, do not read this novel published in 1847 in France at the height of the "libertine" philosophy/movement that one need not be restrained by the morals of society, including monogamy and the institution of marriage, but should instead seek life's pleasures with no regard to others, particularly the pleasures of multiple sexual partners (Note: this is an uneducated synopsis of Libertinism).
Honore de Balzac paints a reality in which money and sex are bartering and blackmail chips, and where honor, love, loyalty and guilt take second seat to instant gratification and ego-boosting debauchery. And regret is non-existent.
The name is somewhat misleading. Cousin Bette is the old maid who is jilted by her infatuation Wenceslas in favor of her adorable, angelic cousin Hortense Hurlot. She schemes to ruin the Hurlot family through a temptress named Madame Marneffe. Madame Marneffe is as easy as an old shoe. Daddy Hurlot and the Mayor are also sleeping with Madame Marneffe. I cannot start describing the rest of the story without going down a path littered with raunch and degradation.
The story involves cruelty, sexual blackmail, revenge, prostitution, unconscionable adultery, selfishness, the irresistibility of the female sexual allure, poisons, passion-filled murder and just about every other sin and demoralizing defect of character.
I read and listened to this novel last summer, but am just now writing a review. I wanted to read a Balzac novel. As I write this, I am convinced this novel is a playbook for today's soap operas. I give it a 4 stars for the story because there is something to be said for keeping all this straight, being one of the trailblazers of realism for so many great authors to follow, and because it's part of a larger sequence of novels and short stories, La Comedie humaine, presenting a panoramic view of life in France after Napoleon's downfall in 1815.
The narrator seems a bit too full of himself and, as such, distracts from the story instead of enhancing it.