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Flaubert's Parrot

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  9,299 Ratings  ·  675 Reviews
Just what sort of book is Flaubert's Parrot, anyway? A literary biography of 19th-century French novelist, radical, and intellectual impresario Gustave Flaubert? A meditation on the uses and misuses of language? A novel of obsession, denial, irritation, and underhanded connivery? A thriller complete with disguises, sleuthing, mysterious meetings, and unknowing targets? An ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published January 1st 1986 by McGraw-Hill Companies (first published 1984)
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Moonshine Noire Quite a few actually. The most mentioned ones are Un Coeur Simple and Madame Bovary as you might expect.
Larry Yes. You don't need to read all of Flaubert, but if you haven't at least read Madame Bovary and A Simple Heart, you won't get nearly as much out of…moreYes. You don't need to read all of Flaubert, but if you haven't at least read Madame Bovary and A Simple Heart, you won't get nearly as much out of it.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Kalliope
Nov 03, 2012 Kalliope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dolors
Dec 22, 2016 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The voyeur in you
Recommended to Dolors by: Deea
Shelves: read-in-2016
That I knew very little of Flaubert’s life was an advantage for me to get a full immersion into this literary extravaganza. One can tell that Barnes had fun writing this alternative biography of the famous French writer, using his stuffed parrot to concoct a colorful tapestry of interspersed anecdotes with metaliterary intention, ironic finesse and the savoir faire of a virtuous ventriloquist.

The fictitious narrator Doctor Geoffrey Braithwaite scrutinizes the correspondence between Flaubert and
...more
Fabian
Apr 06, 2015 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 one of the best literary dissertations 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 poeti
...more
·Karen·
May 25, 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
Sep 30, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim Fonseca
Apr 17, 2016 Jim Fonseca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nora Barnacle
Nije Barns loš pisac.

Odličnu je temu izabrao i sjajno poentirao.

Za naratora je odredio lekara, zaljubljenika u Flobera, koji se razračunava sa književnim kritičarima i svima ostalima koji brutalno seciraju život pisca da bi pronašli nekakve skrivene smislove i značenja u njegovom delu, a još brutalnije njegova dela da bi pronašli makar kakvu tabloidnu bizarnost koja bi dokazala gnusnost piščeve ličnosti.

I sve ih je inteligentno porazio, da. Uključujući i Sartra.

Rekla bih da je bio na vrlo dobro
...more
Edward
Oct 23, 2016 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's something about Barnes's prose that just feels so flawless. Rarely do I trip on an ill-suited word or poorly formed sentence. Flaubert's Parrot was a pleasure to read for its use of language, for its playful tone, and for its exhaustively researched expedition through literary history. The central conceit regarding obsession (though the thread was expertly woven into the fabric of the novel) was not entirely successful: one is left impressed with the effort, but not particularly moved by ...more
Mala
May 06, 2012 Mala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Trevor
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
Shovelmonkey1
Dec 06, 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
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
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 12, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Manny
Dec 20, 2008 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.
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
Bruce
Jan 17, 2014 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard
A very funny book which combines fiction and literary criticism in an ingenious manner. However, in one sense it is all one big in-joke about Flaubert, so the more one knows about "l'oncle Gustave," the better one will understand the humour.

A second reading has changed my impression of the novel somewhat. Although the previous statement still holds true, and it sparkles with wit and irony, it also has a darker underbelly, so to speak. This book seems to be about the different perspectives one ca
...more
Teresa
Feb 07, 2009 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.
Roula
Oct 04, 2016 Roula rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
ακολουθει κριτικη ανθρωπου που αφελεστατα διαβαχωντας τιτλο "ο παπαγαλος του φλωμπερ" δεν του περασε καν απο το μυαλο οτι μπορει να ειναι πραγματικα βιβλιο για τον...φλωμπερ(για φαντασου)!!!το εχω ξαναπει οτι τις περισσοτερες φορες δε διαβαζω υποθεσεις κ οπθσθοφυλλα, ειδικα αν προκειται για συγγραφεα που μου αρεσει.ετσι λοιπον πιστευα οτι αυτο θα ειναι αλλο ενα alternative βιβλιο με εναν ακυρο τιτλο πιυ δε θα συνδεεται καν με το περιεχομενο...ναι, ξεκαθαρα δεν ειμαι ξεχωριστο μελος της mensa..δυ ...more
Deea
Feb 19, 2015 Deea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Steve
Aug 15, 2007 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lada Fleur
Mar 30, 2017 Lada Fleur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read this marvellous and witty little piece of writing , a real hommage to the memory of Flaubert, his life, connections, relations, family, travels by one erudite nglish doctor Julian Barnes, educated and literary who has taken lifa of Flaubert as a mirror of his own life, as a sport of combat. At first I did not want to writea review especially after seeing and reading intensely interesting and original review. but on second thoughts I want to leave my mark here. Parrots, parrots, parro ...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
El
Jun 07, 2008 El rated it it was amazing
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
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
Cris
Apr 10, 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
Hadrian
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.
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
Willy Schuyesmans
Jul 12, 2014 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
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Around the Year i...: Flaubert's Parrot, by Julian Barnes 1 12 Jan 14, 2017 06:47AM  
The Bowie Book Club: Reading discussion 19 16 Oct 10, 2016 11:09AM  
The Bowie Book Club: Book review 5 10 Oct 05, 2016 03:30AM  
The Bowie Book Club: The influence on Bowie and others 7 11 Sep 20, 2016 09:36PM  
The Bowie Book Club: Which edition are you reading? 3 5 Sep 12, 2016 12:25PM  
The Bowie Book Club: General comments, background and resources 9 8 Sep 04, 2016 11:20AM  
Play Book Tag: Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes - 5 stars 5 13 Mar 26, 2016 03:51AM  
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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
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“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.” 3581 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.” 482 likes
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