'In his letters Gustave never speaks to me of anything except art - or himself.'. This was one of the many complaints of Flaubert's lover, Louise Colet. A rigorous champion of impersonality in art, in his letters Flaubert created a vivid portrait of the artist. Witty, scornful, exuberant, these letters bring to life, sometimes day by day, his tormenting passion for Louise Colet, his erotic adventures in the Orient, his literary friendships with Hugo, Baudelaire and Zola, as well as his intimate dialogue des troubadours with the romantic feminist George Sand. Flaubert's descriptions - of the bourgeois and the bohemian, the revolution of 1848 and the Paris Commune - resonate with the curious, aloof perspective of the artist. In the course of this remarkable correspondence about 'art - or himself', Flaubert explores the process of writing, and chronicles the heroic effort that triumphed in the creation of Madame Bovary.
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Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a prominent physician. A solitary child, he was attracted to literature at an early age, and after his recovery from a nervous breakdown suffered while a law student, he turned his total energies to writing. Aside from journeys to the Near East, Greece, Italy, and North Africa, and a stormy liaison with the poetess Louise Colet, his life was dedicated to the practice of his art. The form of his work was marked by intense aesthetic scrupulousness and passionate pursuit of le mot juste; its content alternately reflected scorn for French bourgeois society and a romantic taste for exotic historical subject matter. The success of Madame Bovary (1857) was ensured by government prosecution for immorality; Salammb (1862) and The Sentimental Education (1869) received a cool public reception; not until the publication of Three Tales (1877) was his genius popularly acknowledged. Among fellow writers, however, his reputation was supreme. His circle of friends included Turgenev and the Goncourt brothers, while the young Guy de Maupassant underwent an arduous literary apprenticeship under his direction. Increasing personal isolation and financial insecurity troubled his last years. His final bitterness and disillusion were vividly evidenced in the savagely satiric Bouvard and Pcuchet, left unfinished at his death in 1880.
Geoffrey Wall is author of the critically acclaimed Flaubert: A Life and translated Madame Bovary for Penguin Classics.Language Notes:
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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Book Description Penguin Classics, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140446079
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Book Description Penguin Classics, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140446079