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Flaubert's Parrot

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  8,699 Ratings  ·  617 Reviews
Geoffrey Braithwaite is a retired doctor haunted by an obsession with the great French literary genius, Gustave Flaubert. As Geoffrey investigates the mystery of the stuffed parrot Flaubert borrowed from the Museum of Rouen to help research one of his novels, we learn an enormous amount about the writer's work, family, lovers, thought processes, health and obsessions. But ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 2nd 2009 by Vintage Classics (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 11, 2014 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
Dec 05, 2015 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing
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  ·  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
May 31, 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
Feb 20, 2016 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 b
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
Oct 24, 2016 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 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 j
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
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 20, 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
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
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
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
Apr 11, 2016 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
Aug 21, 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Karlo Mikhail
Sep 14, 2013 Karlo Mikhail rated it it was ok
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
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
Russell George
Feb 02, 2014 Russell George rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Aug 25, 2016 Dymbula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barnese jsem si užíval plnými doušky. A o čem to je? O Flaubertově papouškovi... a dalších zajímavostech.
Kate Forsyth
Oct 17, 2016 Kate Forsyth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw Julian Barnes at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and he was such a fascinating speaker I was most curious to read some of his work. I bought the last copy of Flaubert’s Parrot in the bookshop, and found it a really interesting and unusual read.

In some ways, it is a metafictive biography of Gustave Flaubert, the author of Madame Bovary, told through lists, letters and diaries real and imagined, as well as more conventional biographical techniques. It is, however, also a work of fiction, tell
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The first paragraph of the GR description of this edition is absolutely perfect, for you might describe this in a number of ways! I have seen it at WorldCat described as a literary biography > fiction. In some places it is purported to be a novel, but it's construction is unlike any novel I've ever encountered. Most of the chapters are written in the first person by one George Braithwaite, an aging Flaubert scholar. The "novel" opens with Braithwaite trying to see the actual parrot Flaubert u ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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The Bowie Book Club: Reading discussion 19 16 Oct 10, 2016 11:09AM  
The Bowie Book Club: Book review 5 9 Oct 05, 2016 03:30AM  
The Bowie Book Club: The influence on Bowie and others 7 10 Sep 20, 2016 09:36PM  
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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 about Julian Barnes...

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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.” 3534 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.” 468 likes
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