The works of Gustave Flaubert, standard

Peter Brooks is excellent Flaubert in the Ruins of Paris: The Story of a Friend, a Story, and a Terrible Year it is the perfect companion for reading Flaubert’s Conceptual Education. Flaubert in his book, published in 1869, considered the “terrible year” of the summer of 1870-71, when France defeated Prussia, followed by bloody local conflicts. Brooks’s book also reveals small and important details from the relationship between Flaubert and George Sands. Here, Brooks sets his favorite works of Flaubert.

Gustave Flaubert did not publish anything for more than half of his thirties – and then opened with a great work, Madame Bovary, originally published in serial form (with some passages censored by the magazine’s editors La Revue de Paris), then as a book in 1857, but not before being hauled into court for a public interest lawsuit. He escaped controversy, and the story got a lot of publicity. Nothing he’s published since has done the same Madame Bovary, but there are many things worth reading. Flaubert was the first “modernist”, the writer who taught twenty-two writers in their work-Henry James, Joyce, Kafka, Proust, Woolf, Beckett taught him. He gave to literature the way poets gave to poetry. And he showed that fiction – until then often considered a form of light entertainment – can deal with life’s most serious problems.

1. Madame Bovary

It’s as fresh and relevant today as it was printed – and it’s shocking. We’ve seen sex in novels, but Emma Bovary’s vision of love and sexuality in marriage and extramarital life is captured with clarity and urgency. The material world and the world of ideas are presented to us in amazing detail. You might say that this is the first “realist” novel in its detailing of the sights, smells, touches of everyday life. It is also a story of the desire we all have to set aside our daily routines, to discover the rare and important. Emma Bovary can be deceived in her pursuit of happiness, but it makes her a creative soul, like the man who created her. “I am Madame Bovary,” Flaubert is believed to have exclaimed. Yes, because he thought well of a captive soul that sought to travel and set it free. Two good translations of Madame Bovary available: by Geoffrey Wall (Penguin), and (better, I think) by Lydia Davis (Viking).

2. A Simple Heart

This novella, one of the Three Stories Flaubert was published later in life, which is a favorite. As Flaubert wrote to a friend who felt that his choice to focus on a Norman peasant woman who spends her life as a slave for satirical purposes, the story is not ironic. It is “serious and sad” – the story of the “secret life” of a country girl “sweet as fresh bread.” We see the world in this story through the eyes of a simple soul who knows nature, and love, and religion, and self-expression in general. He outlives his human relations—his mistresses’ two children, his grandson, his goat, and then his own mistress—and ends up alone with the parrot, this time. time filled, but the source of strong spiritualism. A truly amazing story. There are many translations of Three Stories have got; One of the best is by AJ Krailsheimer (Oxford World Classics).

3. Conceptual Education

My personal favorite, not because I think it’s better than before. Madame Bovary-it’s a different kind of good – but because it’s more interested in the range. Flaubert described it as the intellectual history of his own generation. “Sentimental” here means learning what they don’t teach you in school: learning about love, friendship, betrayal, the whole life of emotions . Flaubert himself belongs to the generation that was published, and Frédéric Moreau, his protagonist, will have the most knowledge of that generation, the Revolution of 1848 and its aftermath. The first two parts of the novel are about Frédéric’s romantic desire—for love and reason—but prepare for the arrival of a significant historical event. 1848 would bring about the overthrow of the monarchy, leading to a short-lived successful Republic, then the coup d’état of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte resulting in the Second Reich, and the death of ideas of freedom and self-determination. Flaubert, among other talents, represents an important historical writer, bringing us a story written about the ideas, deceptions, and triumphs of the rebels. The only translation available from Penguin is by Robert Baldick, revised by Geoffrey Wall. A publisher needs to order a new one—it’s worth it.

4. The Story of St. Julian the Hospitaller

Back to the Three Stories: This is presented in an ancient way – the narrator says that he told the story when he found it in the stained glass window in Rouen Cathedral (in Normandy, the birthplace of Flaubert) . Like A Simple Heart, The story is told very simply, but here is what it looks like in the middle ages. The truth here is magical, taking us through the dreamlike scenes of hunting,​​​​​​​​​​and killing people, and then what appears to be healing. Amazing work, unlike anything else I’ve read. Again, AJ Krailsheimer’s translation is recommended.

5. Bouvard and Pécuchet

Flaubert’s work was strange but in some ways, it did not end at his death – where he created a kind of cosmic irony on the ideas of his time and his peers. His main characters, Bouvard and Pécuchet — also Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but they became different from each other — were copyists who retired and moved to Normandy and did some independent work. taught in textbooks with horror. results. From agriculture to horticulture to journalism to child rearing, all of their experiments prove that most of human knowledge is conceptual. However, their violent actions lead them to a mindset similar to their creator’s: seeing human stupidity as unacceptable. The work of the master ironist no longer restrained himself in releasing his contempt for his surroundings. There is an excellent translation of the book by Mark Polizzotti, published by Dalkey Archive.

6. Salammbô

Ancient Carthage, a city destroyed by Roman forces in 146 BCE, has an almost indescribable history. Flaubert read many basic books on archeology and history, and visited the site (currently in Tunisia) before creating his book. The story begins with the wars between Carthage and its mercenary armies – complete with charging elephants and brutal acts of violence – and the strange sexual journey of the young, exotic Salammbô, the daughter of Hamilcar Barca. Not for every taste, but a recreation of a lost world.

7. Selected Letters of Gustave Flaubert

Edited and well translated by Francis Steegmuller (two volumes, Harvard University Press). Flaubert is one of the greatest writers of all time: no-nonsense, funny, blunt, profound. He did not write important articles – it is in the letters that you can find all the words about the nature of the story that inspired later writers. Get to know Louise Colet, his lover at the time of this writing Madame Bovary; his best friend, the novelist George Sand; and the great Russian, another friend, Ivan Turgenev.


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