Sunday, July 8, 2018

Balzac's THE BLACK SHEEP [LA RABOUILLEUSE]: The Malicious Physician and the Needy Nymphet


The back of the Penguin Classics' paperback edition of Honoré de Balzac's The Black Sheep [French: La Rabouilleuse] reads:

The novel revolves around the contrasting characters of two brothers. Philippe Bridau, the elder [...] had a brief but glorious career in the army before the fall of the Emperor [Napoleon]. A handsome and dashing figure [...] he is still more popular than his younger brother, Joseph, a man of less adventurous spirit whom his mother considers a shiftless, good-for-nothing artist. 

For the purposes of this blog, we're going to focus on chapter 13 - "Flore Brazier". In the chapter: "[...] on his way back from his rounds, the malicious, depraved old man [Dr. Rouget] noticed a ravishingly beautiful [12-year-old] little girl [Flore] sitting beside the meadows in the Avenue de Tivoli"

Balzac further describes Flore, who is an underprivileged tattered laborer, as having "one of the most beautiful, virginal faces ever imagined by a painter", "miraculous beauty", a "pretty sunburnt chest", a "charming body", a "reddish tone", and "[...] little nymph's blue eyes, with their attractive lashes, [that] would have brought any painter or poet to his knees."

70-year-old Dr. Rouget, whom Balzac described as an "evil-looking man" with a "middle-class voice", said to the nymphet, "Do you want to come home with me? You'll be fed and clothed, and you'll have pretty shoes to wear."

The nymphet's uncle, Brazier, intervened, but eventually bargained, "Look here, pay me two years in advance and I'll leave her with you [...] [she's] as innocent as a new-born child." Then Balzac wrote: "On hearing this last sentence, the doctor was struck by the word 'innocent'."

Consequently, "[...] Flore was an object of envy to every girl within a radius of thirty miles, although in the eyes of the Church her way of life was thoroughly reprehensible."

However, despite reading the Old Testament to learn how "[...] King David kept warm in his old age [...]" and despite Flore submitting to Dr. Rouget's requests like "[...] an Eastern slave would have done [...]", Dr. Rouget's "[...] plan of debauchery had been defeated by nature [...]". This is contradictory to Howard Stern who opined on his SiriusXM Radio show that the cure for impotence is not Viagra but young women.

Subsequently, the "bitter" physician died and Jean-Jacques, the physician's 37-year-old son, became Flore's keeper.