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

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.

CliffsNotes Madame Bovary
Published in Digital by Hungry Minds ()
Authors: James L. Roberts and Gustave Flaubert
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not ugly
Madame Bovary is a beatufully written satire on bourgeois society. Flaubert puts humor throughout the book through his characters. Each action of the characters has a hint of fakery that is very characterist of Bourgeois society. The book was not written as a guideline of how to live one's life, but a story of the real problems that the people during that time confronted. I would recommend it to anyone that wants to read one of the most well written and thoughtout books.

Excellent chapter by chapter commentary on the classic novel
When teaching World Literature Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" was the first thing we read in class. Unfortunately we could not read it in the original French, because it there is one novel that should be read that way it is this one; Flaubert crafted literally crafted every sentence in the novel as if it were poetry. No translation could ever truly do it justice. While James L. Roberts' Cliffs Notes on "Madame Bovary" cannot help someone who is teaching/reading this great novel in those terms, it certainly covers all the rest of the bases. After providing a brief summary along with a listing of main and secondary characters, Roberts provides a summary and comments on each chapter in the novel. I appreciate that his comments are laid out as A, B, C, etc., so that the discrete points being made clearly stand out. These Cliffs Notes then provide character analysis of Emma Bovary, Charles Bovary, Leon, Rodolphe and Homais, followed by a look at the critical problems of theme/intent, Flabuert's realism, symbolism, irony/contrast, style, narrative technique, and social commentary. A short biography of Flabuert's life and works, suggestions for further reading, and sample examination questions are provided at the end.

The strength of this particular Cliff Notes is that is focuses more on the specific chapters with more depth than you usually find. This works especially well if you read the summary and comments AFTER reading the corresponding chapter(s) in "Madame Bovary." Flabuert's novel was scandalous in its day and is certainly the first and greatest of all the novels dealing with the "fallen woman." Final Helpful Hint for Teachers: After reading "Madame Bovary" you might have students read "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin, another controversial novel which has an extremely similar plot but was written by an American women. You can have some great compare/contrast discussions.

madame bovary
An exquisitely written book about Madame Bovary's search for love, and all of the pain and hardships as a result of that search. The book is eloquently written and wonderfully entertaining- making Madame Bovary's character human and real.

Three Tales
Published in Paperback by Penguin USA (Paper) (May, 1961)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert and Robert Baldick
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The Master Is Just Coasting
Three Tales was Flaubert's attempt to gain widespread acceptance toward the end of his life. It is droning, lazy, unintriguing stuff that contains none of the sparkling gracefulness of his earlier, more famous work. Had this been the single published work of a lesser writer, Three Tales would have been forgotten generations ago.

A Flaubert Taster
Three short stories by Flaubert, each very different, but as the introduction to this edition by Robert Baldick states, each reflects the different styles of his major novels. As such, this book might serve as a "sampler" for someone wanting to investigate Flaubert's works.

I confess to having read the earlier reviews on the Amazon website, and have a slightly different view of the stories (which is fine as enjoyment of fiction is essentially subjective). The first tale, "A Simple Heart" is about Felicite, servant of Mme Aubain. It's a sad, but I thought sympathetically-told story of an inpressionable person who has little intelligence. Admittedly the ending is strange, which might be the cause of others' aversion to the story.

"The Legend of St Julian Hospitator" is, as the title suggests, a two-dimensional story with a religious/moral message. My impression was that Flaubert deliberately intended it to be read in that way. Such tales do not require character development - that is not their purpose.

"Herodias" is a biblico-historical story concerning the events leading up to the killing of John the Baptist. Flaubert takes the opportunity to let his imagination expand the Biblical account.

Each tale is tightly constructed and easily readable, though none will really stick in my mind.

Not Flaubert's Best, But Worth Reading Nonetheless
In 1877, twenty years after the publication of "Madame Bovary," Gustave Flaubert published "Three Tales," a thin volume containing the stories "A Simple Heart," "The Legend of St Julian Hospitator" and "Herodias." While Robert Baldick's introduction to the Penguin edition says that "Three Tales" is "still generally regarded as [Flaubert's] most successful and most representative work," it is by no means his best work and does not approach the level of literary genius displayed in "Madame Bovary," "Sentimental Education," or "Bouvard and Pecuchet."

The best of the tales is "A Simple Heart," the story of Felicite, a simple and pious servant girl who "loved her mistress with dog-like devotion and veneration." Orphaned at a young age, she is first taken in by a farmer who, "small as she was, [sent] her to look after the cows in the fields." It is a miserable life:

"She went about in rags, shivering with cold, used to lie flat on the ground to drink water out of the ponds, would be beaten for no reason at all, and was finally turned out of the house for stealing thirty sous, a theft of which she was innocent."

Felicite fortunately enters the service of another farmer who appreciates her devoted, unquestioning work habits. She grows into her adult years working for that farmer and then is retained as servant to Madame Aubain. Felicite's life with Madame Aubain forms the heart of the story, the first sentence of Flaubert's narrative adumbrating the whole: "For half a century the women of Pont-l'Eveque envied Madame Aubain her maidservant Felicite."

Felicite's life is a series of loves: of Theodore, a man whom she falls in love with at the age of eighteen and who leaves her for an older, wealthier woman; of the two children of Madame Aubain, who depart her world in different ways; of a nephew, who leaves on a sailing ship; of a poor old dying man who lives in a pig sty; and, finally, of a green parrot named Loulou. Throughout all these loves, "the years slipped by, each one like the last, with nothing to vary the rhythm of the great festivals: Easter, the Assumption, All Saints' Day."

It is interesting to quote what Flaubert had to say about the end of "A Simple Heart," because it is not entirely clear whether it reflects his true feelings or an ironic denial of irony: "When the parrot dies she has it stuffed, and when she herself comes to die she confuses the parrot with the Holy Ghost. This is not at all ironical as you may suppose, but on the contrary very serious and very sad. I want to move tender hearts to pity and tears, for I am tender-hearted myself."

While readers have struggled with whether the three tales are connected in any way, the confusion of Felicite suggests a Flaubertian irony (or perhaps cynicism) that runs through all the stories: that people who live their lives based on religious belief are living lives based on illusion. In the case of Felicite, it is an illusion that is suggested by the confusion of a stuffed green parrot named Loulou with the Holy Ghost. In the remaining two tales, it is suggested in other ways.

"The Legend of St Julian Hospitator" tells the story of Julian, who grows up in a castle and lives a life marked by violence and mysticism. It is the reworking of a well-worn medieval tale depicted in thirty scenes of a stained-glass window Flaubert saw in Rouen Cathedral. It is also a tale that suggests again that the Christian founding myths are perhaps not what they seem. Thus, Julian's dream of life in the Garden of Eden and of Noah's Ark seems like the dream of a world created by a demiurge, a kind of Gnostic vision of brutality rather than harmony and salvation:

"Sometimes, in a dream, he would see himself like our father Adam in the middle of Paradise, with all the birds and beasts around him; and stretching out his arm, he would put them to death. Or else they would file past him, two by two, according to size, from the elephants and lions down to the stoats and ducks, as they did on the day that they entered Noah's Ark. From the shadow of a cave he would hurl javelins at them which never missed their aim, but others would follow them, there would be no end to the slaughter, and he would wake up with his eyes rolling wildly."

There is, finally, "Herodias," in which Flaubert relates the story of the beheading of John the Baptist at the request of Salome. Like the other two tales, "Herodias" is unsettling to the Christian mythos insofar as it emphasizes verisimilitude and the mundane. Instead of painting a picture of a great historical event, "Herodias" tells a very human tale of politics, jealousy and factionalism in ancient Israel. By doing so, it brings the reader back to the original historical touchstones of writers like Josephus and other contemporaries of Herod, thereby attenuating the centuries of religious mythmaking that followed the real world events. Perhaps this is why no less a critic than Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, commenting on "Three Tales," said that, "these eighty pages teach me more about the circumstances, the origins and the background of Christianity than all of Renan's work."

While not his best work, "Three Tales" nonetheless provides remarkable insight into Flaubert's narrative style and his view of literature. It is a style and a view that consistently departs from romanticism (even though the casual reader perhaps thinks of "Madame Bovary" as a romantic story), using techniques and images that draw meticulous scenes of the real and plumb the psychological depths of the mundane. By all means, read "Madame Bovary" and "Sentimental Education," but don't forget "Three Tales" because it is an equally provocative example of Flaubert's literary endeavor.

Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour: A Narrative Drawn from Gustave Flaubert's Travel Notes & Letters (Penguin Classics)
Published in Paperback by Penguin USA (Paper) (March, 1996)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert and Francis Steegmuller
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Sex and Mischief Abroad
Strange, honest book of the young author galavanting around Egypt in an era of white men's assumed world domination.

In a way, it is very much like Jack Kerouac's On The Road, with Flaubert himself as the freewheeling Neal Cassady. Actually, the two books could be an interesting comparison study. It would also be a useful reference for critiques of Orientalism and Colonialism.

If you like reading travel accounts, this is at times a very engaging one. His tales herein have a powerful lingering effect. But the sex and masturbation and reckless fun got tiresome in a hurry. After reading this, I lost some respect for the man who was Flaubert, even though I continue to find his writing irresistible.

Correspondance, Vol. 3: Janvier 1859-Decembre 1868 (Bibliotheque de la Pleiade)
Published in Leather Bound by French & European Pubns (1991)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert and Jean Bruneau
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The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters
Published in Hardcover by (April, 2003)
Author: George Sand
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Flaubert's Straight and Suspect Saints: The Unity of Trois Contes (Purdue University Monographs in Romance Languages, Vol. 36)
Published in Hardcover by John Benjamins Publishing Co. (December, 1991)
Authors: Aimee Israel-Pelletier and Aimee I. Pelletier
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Dictionary of Received Ideas (Syrens Series)
Published in Paperback by Penguin USA (Paper) (May, 1995)
Authors: Gustave Flaubert and Geoffrey Wall
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Flaubert Writing: A Study of Narrative Strategies
Published in Hardcover by Stanford Univ Pr (August, 1986)
Author: Michal Peled Ginsburg
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Bouvard Et Pecuchet, Le Dictionnaire Des Idees Recues, Le Sottisier, Etc.
Published in Paperback by Bantam Books ()
Author: Gustave Flaubert
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