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Book reviews for "Flaubert,_Gustave" sorted by average review score:

Trois Contes
Published in Paperback by Schoenhof Foreign Books Inc ()
Author: Gustave Flaubert
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Flaubert's stories are, with "Madame Bovary", his greatest creations. They show a style that was never before seen in French literature, a purity of expresion and depth of meaning, that will live forever.

Flaubert's Parrot (Vintage International)
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (November, 1990)
Author: Julian Barnes
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Who would of thought?
Who would of thought some dead French guy from the mid 1800's could be so interesting? I read this book on the recommendation of my brother but with the stipulation I read "Madame Bovary" first. I have to agree with this suggestion. Someone never having read anything by Flaubert would have a hard time understanding some of the glory of THIS book. Not so much a novel in the ordinary sense, but more one character's(fictional) almost irrational quest for knowledge about his favorite author. The novel is filled with quotes, timelines, and factual anticdotes from Flaubert and his life--what an absolutely amazing writer. I really don't want to give away too much because discovering Flaubert and his world view are the true joys of this book. Just read it and enjoy!

Clever Introduction to Flaubert
This idea-driven novel is filled with brilliant observations, especially in the later chapters, that make me want to read Flaubert. But, in my opinion, the brilliance of these observations is not credibly attributable to personality of the narrator or the power of his trauma. As a result, the essayist Julian Barnes, as well as extensive comments from Flaubert ("With me, friendship is like the camel: once started, there is no way of stopping it.") seemed to carry the narrative load. Regardless, this is a very entertaining book that broadened this reader's horizons. Highly recommended.

Deeply Felt, Highly Literate, Highly Entertaining
Julian Barnes's novel/fictional biography/fictional autobiography, "Flaubert's Parrot" is a magnificent work. This is the first of Barnes's work that I have read, and it shall not be the last. In it, an admittedly mediocre, aging scholar, Geoffrey Braithwaite, professedly attempts to eschew the accepted notions of literary biography, while pursuing just the sort of minutiae he derides. In the case of Flaubert, Braithwaite becomes obsessed with two stuffed parrots - which is the one that inspired and annoyed Flaubert during the composition of 'Un coeur simple'?

Conventions of narrative, style, and form are dispensed with throughout this work - it is composed of a range of genres (mulit-voiced narratives, chronology, encyclopedia/dictionary, and even essay-exam questions). At the same time, the disparate modes are held together from the beginning by a deeper underlying drive - the uncovering of Flaubert's life and opinions operate as a function of Braithwaite's own unresolved issues with the death of his wife.

For all the Sartre-bashing that goes on in "Flaubert's Parrot," one notices striking resonances between Barnes's novel and one of Sartre's, to wit, "Nausea." In both, exasperated scholars find themselves feebly attempting to write intended biographies (for Sartre, the subject is Monsieur de Rollebon) while exploring their own relationship turmoils. Is this part of the much-discussed 'irony' that Braithwaite emphasizes as present in Flaubert's life and writings? Is Barnes, as the deus in absentia author, manipulating and ironizing Braithwaite's tumultuous search for truth about Flaubert to point out Braithwaite's own inconsistencies?

I digress. Braithwaite tackles Flaubert's life unconventionally - Flaubert is allowed to speak for himself through quotations from correspondence and novels; Flaubert's associates, mainly Maxime du Camp, and his primary lover, Louise Colet are allowed to give 'their own' accounts of their relationships with Flaubert. Braithwaite also presents the commonplaces of Flaubert biography and criticism. All of this is presented to give the reader a highly-biased while simultaneously distancing and impartial look at Flaubert, at Braithwaite, at Barnes, at history, at story, at art, at life, and at themselves.

The layering of texts gives a seemingly random assortment of information subtle, even insidious coherence. Quotes, citations, and scenarios are repeated at intervals and in different contexts, allowing the reader to flesh out the importance of each without being repetitive or monotonous. Such is also the case with motifs and images - the bear, the parrot, train-travel, time, medicine, and metafiction. Each device overlaps the other until you find yourself caught up in the significance of every line to the life of Flaubert, to the life and writing of Braithwaite, and to the author Barnes.

At times moving, at others repellent, still at others transfixing, Barnes stocks a wealth of knowledge and speculation about art and life into 190 highly entertaining pages. I don't know how much the reader learns about Flaubert, but the careful and attentive reader will learn quite a lot about something from "Flaubert's Parrot."

Sentimental Education
Published in Paperback by Fodor's Travel Publications (January, 1920)
Author: Gustave Flaubert
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Should Be on Everyone's Top Ten List
To real Flaubertians, this novel ranks slightly above Madame Bovary. It's the true apogee of French and arguably, World Lit, at least so far as the novel is concerned. It's Flaubert's microcosmic/macrocosmic masterpiece.

In some ways, it's Flaubert's answer to Stendhal, given the fact it's a roman à clef, similar in scope and theme to Le Rouge et Noir and La Chartreuse de Parme. It's also a Bildungsroman, in the same Stendhalian, Goethian tradition. The young Frederic experiences love and warfare in much the same way as the young Julien Sorel does in Le Rouge. Readers will also be reminded of Marius in Hugo's Les Miserables (both authors use Paris revolts as central incidents). Both authors also witnessed the 1848 February uprising personally. Hugo, as a rather passionate defender of the Republic, incorporates his experience in describing an earlier, similar revolt in 1832. Flaubert as a dispassionate, even slightly amused, observer, describes the 1848 downfall of the monarchy from the point of view of his young protagonist. The manner in which the two authors incorporate the incidents of the revolution reflects on their personal styles and sensibilities (Hugo adhering to his romantic idealism, ready to mount the barricades - Flaubert, the detached, acerbic, silent witness, standing aside making mental notes). Lovers of literature can appreciate the masterful manner in which both geniuses weave historical incidents within the threads of their narratives. Lovers of irony will most likely prefer Flaubert's treatment.

Flaubert was constantly striving for objectivity, and Sentimental Education is his most completely realized creation in that regard. It's one of the least heavy handed exercises in creative writing that any author has ever produced. The master's prose is faultless, brilliant, refined to its essence in every turn of phrase. All superfluity of expression has been discarded. The reader is left with a highly faceted, exquisite sapphire of a work. Lovers of literature from James to Gide to the present day have been overawed by its brilliance.


A Masterpiece
"The Sentimental Education" is an absolutely brilliant novel. That Flaubert's most famous and most highly regarded novel is "Madame Bovary" is astounding to me. That novel has many failings, whereas "Education" has none. The writing is the best you'll ever read, the story is touching and deep and rich, the charcters wonderfully drawn. And the last paragraph in the novel is both hilarious and endearing, and makes it a novel that is brilliant to the very last word. I can not recommend this novel highly enough. It is somewhat of an overlooked masterpiece (overshadowed by the lesser "Bovary"). One critic said that the reason "Forrest Gump" (the movie version) did so well was that "it dealt wonderfully with unrequited love, something we can all relate to." Well, "Education" is about unrequited love, and it deals with it with 100 times the power that "Forrest Gump" did. The novel also includes a revolution and the Parisian social world. "THE SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION" HAS EVERYTHING!!! When Woody Allen listed the "things that make me happy to live," one of the things he listed was "`The Sentimental Education' by Gustave Flaubert."

The Best 19th Century Novel
This is a tremendous book. This book combines all the best features of 19th century fiction into one package. Insightful social observation and commentary, psychological insight, brilliant descriptive writing, and a tremendous canvas. As with Madame Bovary, Flaubert is concerned with tracing the effects of Romantic ideals in ordinary life. As with Madame Bovary, this phenomenon is examined by pursuing the life story of a single individual. In a sense, this book is a complement to Madame Bovary. Where the latter dealt with provinical life, The Sentimental Education deals with the glittering and corrupt center of France, the great metropolis of Paris. Flaubert combined his basic aim with the goal of providing a comprehensive overview of the Second Empire. The result is bursting with artful plotting, powerful and acute writing, and Flaubert's unique brand of irony. A tremendous achievement.

Sentimental Education: The Story of a Young Man
Published in Paperback by Oxford University Press (February, 2000)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert and Douglas Parmee
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Surprisingly modern
The American author, Thomas Wolfe, wrote that one of the keys to life was to "get reason and emotions pulling together in double harness". This novel by Flaubert could be said to examine the consequences of letting emotions take over completely.

We are presented with a world in which hedonism, materialism and narcissism take precedence over truth, and care and respect for others - the only value system is self-gratification. Other people have no intrinsic worth.

Given its take on life, I found this a novel to have a curiously modern feel - it reminded me in parts (in approach if not style)of Bret Easton Ellis. The initial surprise was that it was written so long ago. However, when one considers the socio-economic changes prevailing at that time, I questioned my surprise. Is it strange that a critique of the "unacceptable face of capitalism" (and one may add politics) should come at such a time?

The real value of "A Sentimental Education" is that it's a reminder that at various periods of history, some people do pause and reflect on human progress and the price we pay for it - does "progress" have any worth unless our values develop too?

A superb translation of a perfect novel
This is simply one of the most satisfying novels I have ever read. And the Parmee translation is excellent - there is not an awkward word or phrase anywhere in the text. Flaubert loved to write fiction which captured the pettiness, baseness, and stupidity of human relations. Misanthrope might be too harsh a word for Flaubert, but he certainly didn't have much patience for the sort of crass greed and shallow, unquestioning conformity he witnessed as a young man in Paris in the Revolution of 1848. I understand that Flaubert started working on this novel very early in his career, but abandoned it several times before finally bringing it to pres in 1869. The care and time Flaubert took in writing this novel shows, especially when you compare it to Madame Bovary, Flaubert's famous book. Bovary is an easier book to "understand". Flaubert may have felt misunderstood. Bovary can be read as an attack on the bourgeoisie, their dull, conformist lives, and the stupid and ultimately self-defeating passions they indulge in an effort to escape from the suffocating monotony of their existence. Or it can be read, as most readers tend to read, as a morality tale about the tragic consequences of adultery. The Sentimental Education sets the record straight, however. Flaubert was not a moralist preaching on the sins of adultery in Bovary. This novel makes that obvious. Here Flaubert again takes up an attack on the bourgeoisie, this time leaving no room for misunderstanding.

I once met someone (a literature student specializing in 19th century fiction, no less!) who complained to me how boring she thought the Sentimental Education was. So boring that she never bothered to finish it. To this day I believe she approached the book in the wrong frame of mind. She may have been expecting some Balzac-ish bildungsroman, about the provincial who comes to Paris and grows into a society man. Instead, she discovered a novel about a dull provincial who comes to Paris thinking he is going to grow into a society man, but is such a poor judge of human character and relations that he meets defeat at every corner. But it is one thing to say the book is dull. It is another to point out that Frederic Moreau is a very dull human being. But then, we remember... we know people like Moreau. At some point or another, we all may have even behaved like Moreau. And we know and live in a society composed of people like the rest of the characters. Moreau's world is the world of bourgeoisie. 150 years later, in another language on another continent, I am surprised to see how little some things have changed.

Pierre Bourdieu, the French sociologist, has analyzed this novel extensively (see "The Rules of Art" and "The Field of Cultural Production") because he finds the document perfect for sociological analysis of the bourgeoisie and the intellectual communities that developed in Paris in 1848. Flaubert had a brutally frank eye and pen, quick to capture the most subtle social implications in a single gesture. After reading Flaubert and Bourdieu, I am haunted by how persistent and relevent Flaubert's vision of society and human relations continues to be.

A refreshing cold bath of realism
This is one of those books that every college Freshmen should read. No novel protrays intellectuals more accurately than this one. Flaubert documents their vanity, their dishonesty, their pettiness and their depravity. He shows us what really awful human beings they are. Young people well advised to read the novel before entering the college scene. It will help them enter the academic world with at least some inkling of what the majority (admittedly, not all) intellectuals are really like.

There is an additional reason for reading "The Sentimental Education." It may very well be the most perfect novel ever produced. Not a single word, description, phrase is wasted. It belongs on any short list of the greatest books of all time.

Published in Paperback by Editorial Edaf, S.A. (2001)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert and Xavier Gisbert
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A beautiful novel of Ancient Carthage
Salambo is Gustav Flaubert's carefully researched "novelization" of the actual conflict (241 - 238 B.C.E.) between Hamilcar Barca and Carthage on the one hand and an army of disaffected former mercenaries on the other. It was first published in 1862.

Flaubert envisages a terrified city reduced to human sacrifice in an effort to save itself. Outside the mighty walls roils a horde of mercenaries bent on the utter annihilation of Carthage. All manner of horror (described in at times gruesome detail) unfolds during the war - torture, crucifixion, murder, cannibalism, human sacrifice.

The mercenaries are led by Matho, a charismatic Gaul of immense strength - but with a fatal flaw. A chance meeting with the exquisite Salambo, high priestess of the goddess Tanit and daughter to Hamilcar Barca, nearly proves to be his undoing. He becomes obsessed with her. He contrives to steal the veil of Tanit - an icon sacred to Carthage, without which the city will surely perish. Only Salambo, or so it seems, can save the nation. But at what terrible cost?

This wonderful little gem caught me almost completely by surprise. I actually did not read it but listened to the audio cassette. I would at times sit in the drive way outside my house unable to stop listening. While at first glance not what one might expect from one of the masters of French Realism (who wanted to hold up a mirror to the world and show both the beauty of the sky and the filth of the mud in the street), it is in fact a meticulously researched and accurate recreation of the world of Carthage after the First Punic War-- a world about which nogt enough is known. So it is in that sense, entirely in keeping with Falubert's body of work.

When this book was published there had been a surge of interest in Carthage (See also The Young Carthaginian by G. A. Henty). Surprisingly, to me anyway, many of the Victorians preferred the Carthaginians to the bully boy Romans -- perhaps because their sympathy ultimately lay with the vanquished Greek civilization.

The search for the forgotten realm.
It seems at least surprising why Flaubert, a master of Realism, spent several years writing this novel placed in Carthago. At his time it was a very controversial issue, even though celebrated by critics and public, because of its sensuality which was criticised by eminent archaeologists. Gustave Flabert had made a very careful research, including several travels to Tunisia to figure out the exact settings of his plot, and thus he defended his work firmly. In the end, years afer, many of his proposals turned out to be certain. He took up this exhausting job in order to fulfill his taste for the exotic and even the grotesque in life. The main theme of the novel is the revolt of the mercenaries engaged by Carthago througout the Punic Wars against Rome. This army was formed by a bizarre variety of men from all over the Mediterranian lands, and like every army, they were loved at war and feared at peace. The novel begins with a feast given to honour their many years of sacrifice and loyalty. But soon after they are put apart to an inner region, feared by the citizens of the capital city. It is also the story of Matho, a Libian soldier, and Salambo, the Princess from Carthago. But this is just the starting line for Flaubert's displaying of his careful seek for the right word, le mot juste, and his amazing talent for showing the inner motivations of his characters. Summing up, this is a wonderful historic novel which does not only stand on long forgotten facts but on the rich depth of his characters. That is what makes it contemporary and close.

Jane Eyre (New York Public Library Collector's Editions Series)
Published in Hardcover by Doubleday (May, 1997)
Authors: Charlotte Bronte and Gustave Flaubert
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It doesn't HAVE to be a drag....
I gather this is required reading at a lot of high schools these days, and I'm sure that a lot of today's high schoolers do indeed think of it as a drag. It sure doesn't have to be, though, if you read from a larger perspective.

To fully appreciate today's world, it helps to understand the attitudes and experiences of the past, and JANE EYRE is one of the novels that helps us understand.

The book takes an orphaned girl taken in by an unloving aunt, and follows her into an unhappy school experience and ultimately into as good a career as a woman of that time and station could hope for, that of governess.

Well, this is one of the earliest gothic novels and true to the genre, you know the girl's going to fall in love with her employer who, unfortunately, has a deep and dark secret.

There's tragedy of sorts here and there's triumph, all told against the mores of a bygone era. There's much to learn and to enjoy here if you open up to it. It is dated, and not 100% relevant to today's life, which is why I give it four rather than five stars.

It may be helpful to read and compare JENNA STARBORN to JANE EYRE. The former pales horribly by comparison, but by setting the story in the future, today's reader may gain a better understanding of the original story.

I just adored this book!
I recently finished Jane Erye and I couldn't bear the thought of there not being more of it to read. At first I thought it was strange that Jane could fall in love with such a cold, hard man. But then it turned out that he had a certain charm and gentleness that was buried deep inside him, not to show its face until Jane uncovered it. I think a big reason that some people don't like this book is because they expect Jane to fall in love with a handsome, obviously charming man. But that kind of romance is done too often in literary works, and eventually it loses its effect. In his own suttle way, Mr. Rochester is Prince Charming, though it takes time and patience to see. The book has a slow start, but stick with it. I've seen two movie versions of this story already, and it's a shame to put the title Jane Eyre on them. They are great stories in themselves, of course, but they hardly do the book justice. I'm 14 years old now, and in a few years I plan to read this book again, in hopes of getting more out of it than I already have.

The Most Romantic Book Ever!!~
I first read "Jane Eyre" when I was entering my sophomore year in high school. I was so fascinated by the beautiful language, expressing the love between Jane and Edward Rochester. I love Edward so much, because he is human. He is depressed with his life, and wishes for another. He searched for another, taking any and every risk he needs to...even adultery or bigamy. His love for Jane is deep and real, as is her love for him. This classic hasn't lost it's details, details about hope, love, and dreams, in the some 150 years since it's been published. I still enjoy it, even after reading it about 100 times!!~ I consider it the greatest love story ever written.....a story that defies the stuffy rules and regulations of 19th century England. It just shows that love can be more powerful than anything. With that, I give this story 5 stars....only wishing I could give it all the stars in the world. Why? Because it deserves that!

Madame Bovary
Published in Audio Cassette by The Audio Partners Publishing Corporation (June, 1998)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert, Gerard Hopkins, and Ronald Pickup
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Makes you think, well worth reading
Madame Bovary is a story about a common woman who marries an ordinary husband living an unglamorous middle-class life in a provincial town. It's that realistic. The heroine, Emma Bovary, longs for the wealth, romance, and adventure she finds in the Romantic novels of her time. After her marriage to Charles, a second class doctor, and moving to a small, mediocre town, she finds her life full of routine and banaltiy. She rebels, and seeks to satisfy her desires for a more glamorous life. This leads her to adultery and financial difficulties, which both lead to tragic consequences.

Emma Bovary is a character you will either despise for her actions or sympathise with and understand. It is true, her actions bring misfortune to her family, especially her husband Charles. Although he is weak and unambitious, lacking the gallantry of her image of a lover, his sentiments for her are genuine and she fails to see it. Moreover, he so trusts and admires her and never sees through her deception. I find that he is the character, if not most interesting, then most tragic and worthy of sympathy, as he becomes the true victim. As for Emma, like her or hate her, she is one who many will relate to.

This is not an exciting read, not fast paced or action-packed. Still, the messages in the book will reward your efforts. I'm no expert on Romantic novels but I think it's quite unlike other novels of it's time. Flaubert's descriptions and use of language are very moving, sometimes disturbing, especially when describing the ravages of sickness or pain. Those who like to contemplate on moral ideas in a literary work, or who love the beauty of language for the sake of it will enjoy this book very much.

Madame Bovary- A GREAT READ!!!
This book is about a woman named Emma Bovary and her husband Charles Bovary. They are married and she becomes bored with his love and he doesn't satisfy her anymore. She becomes very depressed with life because what she imagined her love life to be is not at all what she is actually getting out of her marriage with Charles. Because of this fact she becomes attracted to other men she meets along the way. She meets a couple men and can't seem to stop thinking about them. Instead of trying to forget these other men she ends up having affairs with 2 of the men. She is affaid of what her husband will do but has the affairs anyway. She does end up seeing how much she does love Charles in the end. During Emma's deep quest for love I felt for her. She was a hopeless romantic in search of passion and a love like that towards herself. I feel as if Emma did not care enough to see the love that she did have for Charles until the very end of the novel.

A surprisingly modern classic.
In the opinion of our book group, this is still one of the greatest novels of all time in the richness of its descriptions and the loving, yet candid, description of the human condition. Flaubert's use of language and imagery is a beautiful representation of realism. His search for "le mot juste" - or exactly the right word - is still amazing. It was great to read this novel again through "mature" eyes. Life's lessons tend to lend a more sympathetic view of things. Although none of the characters are endearing, they are still engrossing. The story rings as true today as it did 150 years ago when Flaubert wrote it. All in all, Madame Bovary is simply, not just a novel, it is literature.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Modern Library Classics)
Published in Paperback by Princeton Review (08 January, 2002)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert, Lafcadio Hearn, Michel Foucault, and Marshall C. Olds
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Good for understanding Flaubert as well as religeous history
As others have noted, this book is particularly helpful when trying to understand Flaubert and his other works. The popularly read Madame Bovary in particular features a character, Homais, who continually tries to impose his own ideas about religeon on people who aren't even interested in listening... it is interesting to see, though, where views similar to Homais' come out in the Temptation of St. Anthony.

The work itself is written like a play, though to do this on stage would be an interesting feat. It would perhaps better take the form of film, such as Bunuel's Simon in the Desert.

For those interested in getting in to studying early Christian movements following the death of Christ, although this will hardly serve as a textbook, Flaubert seems to have had a broad repetoir of little known (today, at least) historical facts and facets that will help point an aspiring student in the right direction.

Though hardly light reading, and probably of little appeal to those who do not have an interest in either Flaubert, French literature, or religeon, the trials and tribulations Antony is subjected to through one night of temptation will be at the least entertaining, if not enlightening, to a few.

A Metatext
This is a work that should not be neglected by those interested in Flaubert or by lovers of French Literature. It's format resembles an old-fashioned cyclorama, which was basically a revolving canvas, portraying various interpretive images to an audience that would be seated in the middle of a room. Or it may recall the same period's "magic lantern" which would produce a similar effect, projecting a series of images on a flat wall, the precursor of modern cinema.

Flaubert ushered in an entirely new sensibility to the world of letters. He reinvented the concept of the literary artist as word-and world shaper. The word is the world and vice-versa. No writer ever engaged in such a Herculean struggle to shape every word, every sentence, every image, every assonance or consonance to perfectly conform to his intention.

Flaubert engaged in a kind of ascetisism his entire adult life, which is hardly news, but is central to an understanding of this work and to his attraction towards St. Anthony for a protagonist. Flaubert was for many years a kind of hermit in his study at Croisset, where he retired to his study to read books and write novels. He had contact with his mother and adopted niece and wrote letters to a mistress (Louise Collet, and later to George Sand) along with a few male friends. He would make brief sojourns into Paris, but for the most part, stayed to himself in his provincial hideaway. What he dreamt of there, besides his most famous works (Madame Bovary and L'Education Sentimentale) were reveries such as this novel and Salammbo, another book set in the Near-East and equally evocative in terms of his treatment of that region's sensual and Byzantine richness.

"The Temptation" sparkles with some of Flaubert's most carefully and lovingly constructed imagery. It is the author's own homage to the fertility of his imagination. He never fathered a child literally that we know of, but this work and Salammbo were his ways of saying that he was fertile in all other respects. Each passing personage or creature is a seed sewn by this father of imagery.

One of the most senseless and ill-informed utterances in the annals of criticism is Proust's comment that Flaubert never created one memorable metaphor. Flaubert's entire cannon is one vast metaphor. They are evident in every sentence and every passage of every novel he ever wrote. This is particularly true in this work, as any informed reader will no doubt conclude after reading it.

One other area of recommendation extends to students of Gnosticism. Flaubert encapsulates much of the central theories of the early Gnostic Fathers and Apostles in a few well-delineated characterisations and brush strokes. I would also recommend the Penguin edition, edited and translated by Kitty Mrosovsky, for her introduction and notes. The only drawback I have with her is that she portrays Henry James as denigrating Flaubert's work, where in fact he generally effusively praises it. To those who can read it in its original text, I can only say I envy you and wish I were there.

Read this book!
This is a startling and brilliant piece of prose poetry that deserves to be more widely read; just don't expect anything like his more conventional novels. Indeed, don't read it expecting a novel at all; it reads more like a cross between modernist poetry and Medieval vision literature.

A Simple Heart (New Directions Bibelot)
Published in Paperback by New Directions Publishing (April, 1996)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert, Arthur McDowall, and Gustave Flausbert
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A Masterpiece
Quite simply, a literary masterpiece. Simply written, 'A Simple Heart' evokes depth from simplicity, beauty from tragedy, humanity from suffering. Flaubert's world endures and remains relevant, because the human heart remains unchanged.

Simple, realistic language - metaphysical result
Whether or not one enjoys the style of writing of Flaubert's period, this book is a masterpiece. In a handful of incidents with a maid's life, Flaubert provides us with a full character which exhibits a quiet, uneducated saintliness that weathers a life of significant hardship. The text is down-to-earth realistic description with simple items such as a map illustrating her complete lack of education and a (stuffed) parrot which the priest recognizes the importance of in a final gesture to the servant. This is a "must read" book.

I love this nouvelle. As for the reader from New York below, their review can be summed up as follows,"I wish I could like this masterpiece of French literature, since I am such a fan, but I find it incredibly boring." Since this doesn't make any sense, I would advise disregarding his/her review.

Published in Paperback by French & European Pubns (01 October, 1961)
Author: Gustave Flaubert
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La Vie Ennuyeuse
"Delenda est Carthago! Delenda est Carthago!"("Carthage must be destroyed!") were some of the best-remembered words of Marcus Porcius Cato, a senator of Rome during the second century BC. He got his wish at the end of the Third Punic War, when Carthage effectively ceased to exist. I used to feel a certain sympathy for the Carthaginians. Then I read Salammbo.

I first encountered this novel at the impressionable age of 13, and had no idea what to make of it. I had to gain a lot more knowledge (and cynicism) before I could approach it with anything but nausea. It is not a pretty book, nor do the actions of the protagonists make much sense, until one takes them in the context of Flaubert. He did do a good deal of historical research, but he was, as A.J. Krailsheimer points out in the introduction, also an enthusiastic student of de Sade. This novel is not simply about violence (although the reader will need hip-waders to get through the gore); it is about the torture of futility. It brims with sensual enticements, only to see every effort come to disaster. Even Salammbo herself is doomed by the very thing she wants most: she only wishes to become an initiate of Tanit, but her wish leads to her downfall.

All that said, I had some fairly significant troubles with the plot, and that started in the very first chapter. The soldiers are rioting through the garden, and Salammbo comes out of her room to scold them (in tongues) for destroying her pet fish. Why, I said to myself, does a father who wants to marry his daughter off well leave her without guards in a place where a bunch of drunken mercenaries can get at her? Once I started reading critically, things went downhill from there. The characters seem to have no control over what happens to them, so they struggle on through an atmosphere of dreamy, cynical futility until the bloody finale. I kept wanting to give someone, preferably Flaubert, a swift kick in the pants.

A stirring mixture of war and myth
Flaubert's _Salammbo_ is an often stirring mixture and intertwining of the history of the Punic Wars and of the myths held by the people of ancient Carthage. The novel begins and ends with a banquet held in the gardens of Hamilcar, the Carthaginian leader. The mercenaries are feasting in these gardens at the beginning and a wedding feast is being held at the end, with an important leader of the Barbarians as "the special guest of honor."

The book describes in great, often gory detail the horrors and the carnage of war. The gods must be appeased if there is no food or if the soldiers are dying of thirst. These rituals include children being sacrificed with, perhaps, Hamilcar's son being one of the victims. Cannibilism is an alternative
to mass starvation. Torture is the sport of kings and the masses alike.

In the middle of all these goings on is Hamilcar's daughter, the lovely and exotically beautiful Salammbo. Her conniving to recapture the Zaimph from Matho, the Libyan leader of the Barbarians, includes some of the most erotic passage in 19th century literature. Her pet serpent figures very prominently in these scenes. A priest advises Salammbo that without reobtaining the Zaimph, an important holy relic in their possession, Carthage is doomed to defeat.

Having previously read Flaubert's _Madame Bovary_ and _Sentimental Education_, I believed them to be totally different from _Salammbo_, the former two being romantic melodramas and the latter a historic war novel. This is incorrect. All three novels focus on a major female character, who for better or for worse, forms key relationships, romantic or otherwise, with the novels' lead male characters, and which ultimately determine the shape and the final outcome of each of these books. "All is fair in love and war" may be a cliche, but in _Salammbo_ it becomes the ultimate truth.

for guys
a book for guys who likes books -- a contradiction? perhaps, but it's all here: gratuitous violence and sex. forget hollywood, forget your video games, forget gansta rap, forget cutting edge alternative this and that, it's all here (flaubert's salammbo). truly, i kid not.

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