Gustave Flaubert  

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"To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness" --G. Flaubert

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) was a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style, best exemplified by his endless search for "le mot juste" ("the precise word").

Contents

Biography

Personal life

After leaving Paris, Flaubert returned to Croisset, close to Rouen, and lived with his mother. Their home near the Seine became Flaubert's home for the rest of his life. Flaubert never married. From 1846 to 1854, he had an affair with the poet Louise Colet (his letters to her survive). According to his biographer Émile Faguet, his affair with Louise Colet was his only serious romantic relationship. He sometimes visited prostitutes.

With his life-long friend Maxime du Camp, he traveled in Brittany in 1846, and to Greece and Egypt (see The Art of Travel by de Botton) in 1849. After 1850, Flaubert lived in Croisset with occasional visits to Paris and England, where he had a mistress. He visited Carthage in 1858 to conduct research for his novel Salammbô.

Flaubert was a tireless worker and often complained in his letters to friends about the strenuous nature of his work. He was close to his niece, Caroline Commanville, and had a close friendship and correspondence with George Sand. He occasionally visited Parisian acquaintances, including Émile Zola, Alphonse Daudet, Ivan Turgenev, and Edmond and Jules de Goncourt.

The 1870s, however, were difficult. Prussian soldiers occupied his house during the War of 1870, and in 1872, his mother died. After her death, he fell into financial straits. Flaubert suffered from veneral disease most of his life. His health declined and he died at Croisset of a stroke in 1880 at age 58. He was buried in the family vault in the cemetery of Rouen. A monument to him by Henri Chapu was unveiled at the museum of Rouen in 1890.

Bibliography

Major works

Correspondence (in English)

  • Selections:
  • Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour (1972)
  • Flaubert and Turgenev, a Friendship in Letters: The Complete Correspondence (ed. Barbara Beaumont, 1985)
  • Correspondence with George Sand:
    • The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters, translated by Aimée G. Leffingwel McKenzie (A.L. McKensie), introduced by Stuart Sherman (1921), available at the Gutenberg website as E-text N° 5115
    • Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence (1993)

Biographical and other related publications

2000. ISBN 0-19-815918-8

  • Wall, Geoffrey, Flaubert: A Life, Faber and Faber; 2001. ISBN 0-571-21239-5
  • Various authors, The Public vs. M. Gustave Flaubert, available at the Gutenberg website as E-text N° 10666.
  • Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert, 1821-1857, Volumes 1-5. University Of Chicago Press, 1987.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gustave Flaubert" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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