Holly's Reviews > Flaubert's Parrot

Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
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Aug 05, 2012

really liked it
Read in August, 2012

Flaubert's defence/revenge told from the perspective of an avid fictional friend, Geoffrey Braithwaite.

Having not (yet) read "Madame Bovary," I was a little worried that reading this would be premature - a "here's what to think" before I had a chance to form opinions of my own. But Geoffrey allayed my fears - Flaubert was more than just "Madame Bovary!" A widower, Geoffrey takes trips to France to visit Flaubert haunts, two of which have what both claim to be the inspiration for the parrot in "A Simple Heart."

Does a writer intend all the symbolism the critics and scholars find w/in his or her books? Does the writer's private life add to or detract from his or her novels, stories, poems, achievements? Does it matter to the stature of Flaubert's body of work whether he was a recluse or whether he had many loves? Can his body of work stand alone? Or, can we the readers stand to let the person, the character, that is the novelist disappear? A primary character in the school of Realism, Flaubert believed that all personal letters, etc should be destroyed at his death, that no one should be interested in where he lived and wrote. Geoffrey knew this and well but disregarded it. He needed to know the man, to defend the man as a friend.

This was a great way to learn biography of a great man - more biography should be written in this way!
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