Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Flaubert's Parrot” as Want to Read:
Flaubert's Parrot
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Flaubert's Parrot

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,493 Ratings  ·  594 Reviews
Which of two stuffed parrots was the inspiration for one of Flaubert's greatest stories? Why did the master keep changing the colour of Emma Bovary's eyes? And why should it matter so much to Geoffrey Braithwaite, a retired doctor haunted by a private secret? In "Flaubert's Parrot", Julian Barnes spins out a multiple mystery of obsession and betrayal (both scholarly and ro ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published November 27th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1984)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Flaubert's Parrot, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Flaubert's Parrot

1984 by George OrwellThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldA Clockwork Orange by Anthony BurgessLolita by Vladimir NabokovThe Iliad by Homer
David Bowie's Top 100 Must Read Books
27th out of 100 books — 233 voters
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiThe Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
Metafiction
53rd out of 297 books — 452 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Kalliope
Jun 11, 2014 Kalliope rated it really liked it
This book is the biography of Gustave Flaubert written by the Francophile Julian Barnes.

Or may be not, may be this is a pointless story of a widower and retired doctor, Geoffrey Braithwaite, who is as fascinated with Flaubert as is his creator.

Or if we are to get intellectual, is this a satirical meditation on writing, on reading, on the possibilities of gaining a deeper insight into the literary output of an author by studying his life, or even on the irremediably fictional nature of being able
...more
Jim Fonseca
May 31, 2016 Jim Fonseca rated it it was amazing
A novel that is largely a non-traditional biography of Gustave Flaubert. We get all the usual biographical info on Flaubert we expect, but it’s organized in chapters such as one on the various colors of Madame Bovary’s eyes in the novel. Barnes threads the book with the fictitious biographer’s concern for, and reflections on, his wife dying of an illness. Spooky -- because Wiki tells us that Barnes’s wife actually died of a brain tumor in 2008, but Parrot was written in 1986.

One chapter is stru
...more
·Karen·
Dec 05, 2015 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You might think this is a book about Flaubert's parrot. The title would indicate that this is not such a preposterous assumption to make. Or at least, if not the parrot, then about Flaubert himself, maybe the parrot is just a way in to a biography of the man? Again, not entirely erroneous. What we get, though, isn't really much of a biography at all, more the musings of a man called Geoffrey Braithwaite, who has a long-term obsession with the Frenchman and would like to write the definitive life ...more
Paul Bryant
May 17, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
This was a giant gimmick of a novel and I thought the gimmick just worked so well. I understand some readers disagree. I'm not going to say that them's fightin' words and I'm going to have to ask you to step outside. I'm just annoyingly, irritatingly going to tell you that I thought this was like a gloved hand on the back of your neck which inches its way round to your windpipe. What happens is that a dull kind of guy mooches about France collecting biographical data about the sainted Flaubert, ...more
Mala
Feb 20, 2016 Mala rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Flaubert and Julian Barnes.


The Booker jury sometimes behaves like the Oscar one: how else to explain this-- In the year 1984 the following books were short-listed:
Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard
In Custody by Anita Desai
Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
According to Mark by Penelope Lively
Small by David Lodge

And Anita Brookner's jaw-droppingly boring book, pipped Barnes, Ballard & Desai to the post!

The same thing happened again in 1998 & 2005, but at least he lost to somewhat good b
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Dec 16, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like biographies in confusing disguises
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I read this book on the train. Originally this was done out of necessity as I was commuting and needed something to stare at so as to avoid the blank eyed gaze of the other commuter drones as they also lumbered too and from a number of non-descript towns in the north in order to earn their daily crust. Many of them look like zombies.. only the lack of meaty-decay smell informs you that, no, they are in fact still living and allegedly sentient. Sometimes I worry about becoming a commuter zombie ( ...more
Trevor
Oct 15, 2014 Trevor rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, biography
This is perhaps my least favourite novel by this author. It is still worth reading - he is still one of my favourite authors - it is just that it is missing something, unlike the other novels by him which I don't think are lacking in anything at all. I think this was because at first what I thought this would be about - you know, the 'big themes'- ended up being what the book turned out to be about. Never a particularly fun thing to find out about a book. There isn't much I can say about this, a ...more
Fabian
Aug 18, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing
Will be top contender for novel of the year for me. Or, err, anti-novel? It is intelligent literary analysis at its most intimate, at its most arrestingly brilliant; this may be the best literary dissertation of all time. And that is, well, bizarre; the last time I had declared this so recalcitrantly, was for Mario Vargas Llosa's "The Perpetual Orgy," another immersive "lit. paper" of the 19th century Flaubert, and specifically on his megapopular diva M. Emma Bovary.

Barnes merges poetics and jug
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 20, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
This is the second Julian Barnes book that I've read. I equally liked this and his The Sense of an Ending (also 4 stars). Not that they are similar. In fact, they are almost opposites. This is a lot more literary as this dwells solely on the life of Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) who obviously is a favorite of Julian Barnes while "Sense" is about a story of a non-communicative man and ends up as a loser. Having said that, there is a tinge of sadness in the life of Flaubert when he died as a lonely ...more
MJ Nicholls
A little too Radio 4 for my liking: pseudo-scholarly musings on Gustave Flaubert, cosier than a cushioned futon in the House of Lords. Mostly diverting and amusing: if a shade pompous and niche (i.e. you don’t have to have read Flaubert to read this, but it helps). Nothing more to add, particularly. Except this edition was so tiny I had to shrink my hands to hold it. Thanks, Picador. Anyway. Did you read about my Guinness World Record in the paper the other day? I am the first man to listen to T ...more
Bruce
Jan 17, 2014 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Julian Barnes has written a book hard to categorize. Is it a novel? Is it a work of literary criticism? Is it a biography? This work of metafiction defies being fit into a particular genre. True, it is a work of fiction, but Barnes works into it so many features that usually appear elsewhere that the reader is kept continually on his toes. The result is creative, fascinating, and wonderfully entertaining.

The narrator of the work is one Geoffrey Braithwaite, a retired physician with a avocational
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Gustave Flaubert died in 1880. But this did not prevent Julian Barnes from falling in love with him. Barnes' obsession with him, which only a lover can suffer from, resulted to this book which was first published in 1984, almost a century after the author passed away impoverished, lonely, exhausted and not having finished his swan song, "Bouvard et Pecuchet" (despite its incompleteness it was still good enough to be included in the 1001 list).

Any keen follower of my goodreads review (and there a
...more
Deea
Apr 11, 2016 Deea rated it it was amazing
Flaubert’s life intertwined with the life of a biographer whose wife died. Witty and ingenious as no biography has ever been. I can only compare its novelty of form (in effect) to “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” (Mario Vargas Llosa) from what I’ve read. Although, they're totally different. I am not ready yet (not sure if I’ll ever be) to write a review, but I can say however: I enjoyed reading this book a lot. This is Barnes at his best: a light read, but full of quotes I could not help but wr ...more
El
Jun 08, 2008 El rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (190/1001)
Julian Barnes first won my heart in A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters in which there is a chapter written from the point-of-view of a woodworm on Noah's Ark. It was such a refreshing change of pace and I adored it. Since reading that several years ago I have put off reading anything else by Barnes, hoping to retain that feeling lest History was a fluke. I bought a copy of Flaubert's Parrot a while back but kept it on the back burner, again to avoid being disappointed by Barnes, but also ...more
Eric
Flaubert’s Parrot is a witty essay on Flaubert, thinly battered in fiction. The fictional story, of retired physician and Flaubert amateur Geoffrey Braithwaite alone with memories of his adulterous suicide wife (her name is Ellen, not Emma), I found weak and boring. But I kept with it because Braithwaite approximates my favorite kind of first-person narrator: the speculative dreamer, the casual critic; the isolated ideal mind—a phrase I’ve heard—at home in all history. There’s Ishmael, Humbert, ...more
Steve
Aug 21, 2007 Steve rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Dashing Francophiles
Shelves: fiction
Postmodern: replete with literary metafiction, ordered lists, chronologies, conscious ironies, and other bullshit. All of this is executed quite well, though. Pleasing to the forebrain.
Dhanaraj Rajan
An interesting concept and an excellent execution.
At the end you end up liking both Flaubert and Barnes.
Entertainer with many witty turns and close observations on Life and Art.
Loved the parts in which he talks of relations between Life and Art, Literary Criticism, Obsessive adherence to favourite authors, The difference between the reading of an ordinary reader/lover of literature and the reading of a literary critic.
Manny
Jul 01, 2009 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guy gets talking to this doctor on a ferry trip; the doctor just can't understand why his wife killed herself.

Flaubert sometimes used to refer to himself as "Gourstave". Barnes translates this as "Flau-bear".

And more Flaubert-related musings, vaguely wrapped up as a postmodernist novel. If you're a Madame Bovary fan, you may like it.
Teresa
May 27, 2015 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining, interesting book. Not only is Barnes clever, he's chuckle-out loud funny in some places, as in the section on the types of books the narrator thinks should not be written. The chapter called "Pure Story" is both beautifully written and heartbreaking.
Cris
Jun 14, 2016 Cris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geoffrey Braithwaite nos guía en su investigación sobre la vida del autor francés a través de los aspectos más curiosos de la misma: sus cartas, sus amoríos o los animales con los que convivió, entre otros. Este planteamiento tan original y el estilo que emplea nos atrapan, nos arrancan alguna que otra carcajada y nos regalan un buen puñado de citas memorables, como se puede apreciar en esta reseña.

¿No será que la forma más segura de placer, nos dice implícitamente Flaubert, es el placer de la i
...more
Kaph
Verdict: A really wonderful textbook for a course entitled ‘Gustave Flaubert & Assorted Literary Musings’. Not terribly useful beyond this context.

Written by a man whose last name begins with ‘B’ and classed (rather dishonestly) under the first Guardian 1000 books category of comedy, ‘Flaubert’s Parrot’ made it onto the first page of my list of essential novels. From there it managed to worm its way into my subconscious so that, without making any deliberate note of it, I recognized the titl
...more
Anna Savage
Aug 05, 2009 Anna Savage rated it liked it
Flaubert’s Parrot is not a novel so much as it is Julian Barnes masturbating onto his favorite, tattered, and undoubtedly stained copy of Madame Bovary. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The book is solidly written, thought-provoking, unique, and sometimes hilarious. However, if you have no lustful feelings of your own toward M. Flaubert, probably best to stay away. Certainly having read Madame Bovary is a prerequisite for any appreciation of this book. I still felt underprepared having read ...more
Hadrian
Jan 29, 2012 Hadrian rated it really liked it
A curious experimental examination and tribute to a Great Master of the early novel - Flaubert. Briefly pretends to be a bit of fiction, but instead launches into a multi-pronged investigation and defense of the man Flaubert.

I'm sure a lot of us bookish types have at least one author we could obsess over and defend against all critics, learning every little detail of their lives, collecting their works, and every 'dripping' from their pen.
Stephen
Jan 10, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
The book told me a lot about Flaubert, as it makes full use of his diaries and letters. The conceit of the eponymous stuffed parrot is hard to get at first but comes together at the end. This short book is more a series of essays than a linear narrative, a sort of epistolary novel. The actual writer, Barnes, inhabits the mind of the narrator, a retired, widowed English physician who might have walked out of a Saki story. Dr. Braithwaite is very familiar with chez Flaubert. The MS is poignant, so ...more
Willy Schuyesmans
Jun 14, 2015 Willy Schuyesmans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ik ben intussen zowat verslaafd aan Barnes en heb nu eindelijk zijn boek gelezen waarmee hij in 1984 is doorgebroken en dat wereldwijd bekroond werd: 'Flauberts papegaai'. In dat boek gaat de oudere arts Geoffrey Braithwaite na de dood van zijn echtgenote naar Frankrijk, waar hij op zoek gaat naar sporen van zijn idool, de schrijver van 'Madame Bovary'. Hij bezoekt Rouen in Frankrijk waar Flaubert geleefd en gewerkt heeft en hangt zijn hele verhaal vast aan een pittig detail: de papegaai die in ...more
Helle
I have so many thoughts after having read this book. As a friend of mine said recently about another book: “It makes me think about my own raison-d’être”. I’m ambivalent about some of the aspects Barnes explores here but have come to understand that that is his trademark. Having read four of his books now, I am in no doubt that, like Flaubert, Barnes is a master when it comes to style.

I feel it’s a stretch calling this book a novel. It’s not entirely, or only, a memoir either, however. Maybe the
...more
Karlo Mikhail
Many have judged Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot a “delightful” reading experience. However, my own encounter with the book do not tally with such praise. The impression Flaubert’s Parrot’s protagonist made on me was that of a narrator purposefully avoiding his own traumatic experiences by displacing his energy towards an endless narration of Flaubert trivia – from a chronology of Flaubert’s life from various points of views, an exposition of Flaubert’s relation with animals in his life and wor ...more
Derek
Let me put it this way, Julian Barnes is my favourite writer at the moment. Who would have thunk it that I'd pick up a pseudo-autobiography on Gustave Flaubert and actually enjoy it? Chances are if this book was written by anyone else, I wouldn't have gone past the first Act. But JB has a way with words and images that you get out of every novel feeling like you're smarter, more aware. I mean, here he talks about Flaubert, a writer I've never really cared about, and in Levels of life he talks ab ...more
Russell George
Feb 02, 2014 Russell George rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
Bloody hell. No sooner have you started liking an author, imagining that you'll dip into their stuff quite regularly, than you discover this sort of thing. Perhaps if I had read Madame Bovary, or anything else by Flaubert, it would have made a difference. But I had to stop reading this because it just seemed like self-indulgent crap. I’m sure a story would have, somewhere, emerged from behind Barnes’ meanderings of Flaubert’s life and works, but just over a third of the way through and there was ...more
Jeanette
Jun 14, 2015 Jeanette rated it liked it
One of my favorite authors, this is one of his earliest works. It reads like a Flaubert dissertation paper. Possibly? It is classified as non-fiction because it does hold biography of Flaubert to degree of intense minutia. But it holds as much about the author Barnes himself, as well. It's a work of intelligentsia displaying itself. Most people of erudite backgrounds relish this analysis and manipulation of juxtapositions interlaced with savvy wit. Stuff to ponder, but such is never my most favo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes - 5 stars 5 12 Mar 26, 2016 03:51AM  
  • No Bed for Bacon
  • Ennui
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man
  • All The Emperor's Horses
  • Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, First Series
  • The Polyglots
  • Octobriana and the Russian Underground
  • Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music
  • Before Lunch
  • The Mighty Walzer
  • The Harpole Report
  • Brewster's Millions
  • Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock
  • The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorised Biography
  • Tales of Beatnik Glory
  • David Bomberg
  • According to Queeney
  • Mister Johnson
1462
Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize--- Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School
...more
More about Julian Barnes...

Share This Book



“Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books.” 3526 likes
“Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own.” 462 likes
More quotes…