Flaubert's Parrot
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Flaubert's Parrot

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  6,082 ratings  ·  444 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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Kalliope
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
Paul
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
Mar 27, 2014 Mala rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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 shortlisted:
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 books:...more
Shovelmonkey1
Dec 16, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
steve ross
Aug 21, 2007 steve ross rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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
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.
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
El
Jun 08, 2008 El rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Manny
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.
Rohan Maitzen
It's really a 2. 5 star book for me, because I really enjoyed some parts and found other parts (and to some extent the whole concept) tedious. I think I would have preferred just to get Julian Barnes straight up on Flaubert: if you aren't really going to write a novel but rather a pastiche, a parody, an appreciation, a medley of parts and ideas and venting and quoting -- which package it as a novel, with a narrator and the thread of a plot? Why not just throw off the pretense and do your thing?...more
Willy Schuyesmans
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
Teresa
An entertaining, interesting book. Not only is Barnes clever, he's chuckle-out loud funny (see the section on the types of books the narrator thinks should not be written) in some places; and the chapter called "Pure Story" is both beautifully written and heartbreaking.
Russell George
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
F.R.
This is an odd book. It’s not really a biography, but there’s so much biography in it I’m not sure it could really be counted as a fictional novel either. So what is it then? An Appreciation? A Musing? Yes, I’m going to go with that last one. This is that somewhat rare literary breed – “a Musing’ on a theme or subject.

A doctor wanders in and around Flambeau’s life and work, and how they intersect with his own life gradually becomes apparent.

It’s a book which manages to be interesting, whilst ne...more
Laura
The author asks really good questions about why we pursue the writer of books instead of being content with their writing and he questions the way we look at history as well. Really made me stop and think about things. In this way, it reminds me of The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields, another book that delves into the inherent flaws of autobiographies.

In addition, I LOVED the organization of the book. The author will pick some random thing: A critic's accusation that Flaubert didn't bother to se...more
David Berry
Barnes’ narrator of Flaubert’s Parrot, an English doctor named Geoffrey Brathwaite, is terribly funny. He impersonates Flaubert’s lover Louise du Colet to describe Gustave’s rapacious sexual appetites. He skewers literary critics for trying to find factual errors in fiction while having no feeling for writing. (Among the books censured for inconsistency is Barnes’ own Metroland). Brathwaite lists books that should never be written, which unfortunately look a lot like a bestseller's list. And he...more
Núria
Me leí este libro porque tocaba en el Club de lectura de mi biblioteca y sin muchas esperanzas de que me gustara, porque al fin y al cabo es de un autor que está vivo y más fresco que una rosa, y tan joven es el libro que lo es incluso más que yo. Además, prometía ser metaliteratura de la peor clase, la metaliteratura para las masas, una reflexión sobre las relaciones entre vida y literatura de lo más obvia y facilona, un simple juego frío y sin vida. Pero sorprendentemente no es así. Aún no ent...more
Anna Savage
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
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.
Jan
Julian Barnes has occupied himself seriously with his idol Gustave Flaubert, with this remarkable result. It is not a biography in the classical sense, but it is, extraordinary as it is! It mad eeh made me think a tiny bit of ‘Exercises de style’ by Raymond Queneau by the number of different approaches the author explores to go to the heart of his goal: understand Flaubert in depth, in his different roles, in his way of life, his literary output, his moral and social behaviour. One of the perspe...more
Sve
С всяка прочетена книга се влюбвам все повече в Джулиан Барнс. Чувството му за хумор и самоирония е очарователно.
Нетрадиционната биография на Флобер повдига много въпроси за личността на писателя, за литературата и писането изобщо, а също за любовта и връзките, които маркират живота ни.
Накратко: чудесна книга от изключителен автор. Трябат повече такива :)
masha
Jun 05, 2007 masha rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves novels and wants a perfect pleasant story
it's like a pleasant conversation with an interesting person. The book can be very literary (as in analyzed as a post modern novel with a literary mystery bla bla) but it is also just a really great read. It's not necessary but it can make the story better if you have read Flaubert.
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.
Hoda
This book is not for every reader, it is for those who love literary criticism, and who are interested in learning about Gustave Flaubert. It felt like one long fun book discussion. I would reread it over and over again. This is my second Barnes book, it is quite different from 'the sense of an ending', yet equally amazing and clever. At times, I laughed aloud at the irony and subtle sarcasm. It was quite an enjoyable journey.
Barnes has made me want to go to the bookstore and buy every single bo...more
Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)
I think I read this book at the perfect time. I'd just read Madame Bovary for the first time, and become interested in Flaubert (about whom I knew nothing til about 6 weeks ago), and gone on to read A Simple Heart. Flaubert's Parrot is a very odd book. A most unusual form. Each chapter uses a quite distinct format. One a chronology. One exam essay questions. One a bestiary. Calling it a novel, is almost difficult. I guess it's fiction, although large swathes of it seem to be fact (I think, I hop...more
Rosina
I didn't realise that it was a semi- biography until I started reading it and I haven't actually as of yet read anything by Gustave Flaubert, but it was still interesting, I think Julian Barnes is a great writer and some of the stuff he says is amazing

'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...more
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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
More about Julian Barnes...
The Sense of an Ending Arthur & George A History of the World in 10½  Chapters Talking It Over England, England

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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.” 3233 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.” 384 likes
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