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Flaubert on Structural Unity
July 29, 2005 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Flaubert on Structural Unity. "I’ve just read 'Pickwick' by Dickens. Do you know it? Some bits are magnificent; but what a defective structure! All English writers are like that. Walter Scott apart, they lack composition. This is intolerable for us Latins". Extracts from the letters of Flaubert (via the very awesome book coolie)
posted by matteo (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Correspondance de Flaubert

Robot Wisdom links

Flaubert's letters are a great source of instant delight. I highly recommend the English edition by Francis Steegmuller (2 pbk. vols.), which I can never stop reading once opened. One of those authors (cf. Ezra Pound's "Literary Essays") whose ranting ephemera are dearer to me than most of the finished works.

A year ago I read L'Education sentimentale in French — quite an astounding recreation of the period and society it represents. Now I keep meaning to get to Salammbô and Bouvard et Pécuchet...
posted by Zurishaddai at 8:59 PM on July 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Flaubert was aware that The Pickwick Papers was Dickens' first novel, and that it was written and published over many months as installments in a magazine. These are reasons why its structure is rather loose and episodic.

A couple of years ago I set myself the task of reading all of Dickens' work. I started with Pickwick, and loved it. Since then I've read Oliver Twist and Bleak House. I want to read Flaubert as well. So many classics, so little time...
posted by wadefranklin at 9:05 PM on July 29, 2005


So many classics, so little time...

Audiobooks. In the past 5 days I've "read" the following (one per day): All Quiet on the Western Front, Treasure Island, Kabloona, The Night in Lisbon, Frankenstein. Never would I find the time or patience to sit and read even half that amount.

I'm not entirely sure the expierence is as good as reading, but its not bad, and its possible to cover a lot of ground that otherwise would never happen.
posted by stbalbach at 9:38 PM on July 29, 2005


this is great!
posted by ori at 10:53 PM on July 29, 2005


I will now seek out Flaubert's letters, on this recommendation. By the way, if you like that gossipy French author stuff, check out the journals of the Goncourt brothers, which begin around 1850. Wonderfully entertaining.
posted by Faze at 5:22 AM on July 30, 2005


stbalbach writes "I've 'read' the following (one per day): All Quiet on the Western Front..."

One per DAY?!? I love audio books, too, but there aren't enough free hours to get through them THAT fast -- unless you're out of work. In which case, you can sit and read.
posted by grumblebee at 5:42 AM on July 30, 2005


The Letters of Gustave Flaubert
posted by matteo at 6:00 AM on July 30, 2005


One per DAY?

They were 6 to 9 hours per book. There are 24 hours in a day. Customize as needed. But you dont have to sit still while listening to an audio book.
posted by stbalbach at 6:38 AM on July 30, 2005


Speaking of structure, why is Emma Bovary's coffin three layers and lined with lead? Anyone? I'd love to know.
posted by OmieWise at 7:32 AM on July 30, 2005


Oh, yeah, great post and great links added here in the comments.
posted by OmieWise at 7:33 AM on July 30, 2005


wadefranklin writes "I want to read Flaubert as well. So many classics, so little time..."

The nice thing about Flaubert is that there are not too many novels, nothing like Dickens, so you can get through his ouevre quite easily. Of course they're all quite good, but strange, stranger, I think, than Sentimental Education and Madame Bovary would lead one to believe. Madame Bovary is itself a pretty wierd book, for all its supposed realism, and sometimes seems like a strange injunction to the reader not to read, but Salambo is some kind of decadent freak-out, and The Temptation of St. Anthony is a novel in only the loosest sense. After that there is just Three Stories, although the letters are themselves pretty central to Flaubert's output, as the Diaries and Letters of Kafka are central to his. Still, compared to Dickens, that's nothing. (The Modern Library version of St. Anthony currently published in the US has a worthwhile essay by Michel Foucault about the book and Flaubert, I would recommend that edition to anyone looking to read the book.)
posted by OmieWise at 7:46 AM on July 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


Thanks, OmieWise. I have read Madame Bovary and recently, Three Stories. If I ever get around to Flaubert again, I would probably start with the letters.
posted by wadefranklin at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2005


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