Sentimental Education  

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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.
Sentimental Education (original French title: L'Éducation sentimentale, 1869) was Gustave Flaubert's last novel published during his lifetime, and is considered one of the most influential 19th century novels.

Plot

The novel describes the life of a young man (Frederic Moreau) living through the revolution of 1848 and the founding of the Second French Empire, and his love for an older woman (based on the wife of the music publisher Maurice Schlesinger, who is portrayed in the book as Jacques Arnoux). Flaubert based many of the protagonist's experiences (including the romantic passion) on his own life. He wrote of the work in 1864

"I want to write the moral history of the men of my generation-- or, more accurately, the history of their feelings. It's a book about love, about passion; but passion such as can exist nowadays--that is to say, inactive."

The novel's tone is extremely ironic and pessimistic, lampooning French society with Flaubertian style.

Characters

The characters of Sentimental Education are marked by capriciousness and self-interest. Frederic, the main character, is originally infatuated with Madame Arnoux, but throughout the novel falls in and out of love with her. Furthermore, he is unable to decide on a profession and instead lives off of his uncle's inheritance. Other characters, such as Mr. Arnoux, are as capricious with business as Frederic is with love. Without their materialism and "instinctive worship of power", almost the entire cast would be completely rootless. Such was Flaubert's judgement of his times, and the continuing applicability of that cynicism goes a long way in explaining the novel's enduring appeal.




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