Salammbô  

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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.

Salammbô (1862) is an historical novel by Gustave Flaubert, which interweaves historical and fictional characters. The action takes place immediately before and during the Mercenary Revolt against Carthage in the third century BC. Flaubert's main source was Book I of Polybius's Histories. It was not a particularly well-studied period of history and required a great deal of work from the author, who enthusiastically left behind the dreary subject-matter of Madame Bovary for this lurid tale of blood-and-thunder.

Reception

The book, which Flaubert researched painstakingly, is largely an exercise in sensuous and violent exoticism. Following the success of Madame Bovary, it was another best-seller and sealed his reputation. The Carthaginian costumes described therein even left traces on the fashions of the time. Nevertheless, in spite of its classic status in France, it is practically unknown today among English-speakers.

Orientalism

In the novel ancient Carthage in North Africa is used as a foil to ancient Rome. Its culture is portrayed as morally corrupting and suffused with dangerously alluring eroticism. This novel proved hugely influential on later portrayals of ancient Semitic cultures.

Film




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Salammbô" 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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