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Bouvard Et Pecuchet

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,571 ratings  ·  176 reviews
Although unfinished during his lifetime, Bouvard and Pécuchet is now considered to be one of Flaubert's greatest masterpieces. In his own words, the novel is "a kind of encyclopedia made into farce . . . A book in which I shall spit out my bile." At the center of this book are Bouvard and Pécuchet, two retired clerks who set out in a search for truth and knowledge with per ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Larousse Kingfisher Chambers (first published 1881)
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Review in diary form.

My favourite books are those that cause me to think so much while I’m reading that I start having animated conversations with myself and need to begin the review even before I’m a third of the way through as a means of continuing the dialogue in my head about the book, wishing I had an alter-ego, someone who is as enthusiastic as I am about the matter in hand, a double, as it were, like Bouvard and Pécuchet who bounce their thoughts off one another continuously and are often
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like philosophy and slapstick
Recommended to Manny by: Inna and Don
As I watched the heroes of Flaubert's last, unfinished novel meander aimlessly from one disaster to the next, they began to seem strangely familiar. And after a while, I couldn't help wondering

What Might Have Happened If Bouvard And Pécuchet Had Been Able To Join Goodreads

That year, Paris talked of nothing but the internet, and, even in Normandy, people began to experiment with the new invention. The two friends found an internet café in Caen; but the connection was slow, and the other habitués
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Bouvard and Pécuchet could be read as Flaubert playing the role of prankster God, watching his protagonists build castles made of sand and then sending forth all the tides of failure, ruin, and ill-luck to topple them. No doubt, that element is there; Flaubert conceived of what was to be his last (never finished) novel as an “encyclopedia made into a farce”, a vent for all his anger (“I shall rid myself of what is stifling me. I shall vomit back onto my contemporaries the disgust they inspire in ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
One of the world's most unreadable books, Boulevard and Pecuchet was Flaubert's last work and was intended to be a sort of summary of all kinds of knowledge he had acquired using a comical tone with his two protagonists. However, unlike Madame Bovary or Education Sentimental, I found no affinity with either character and found the lack of a plot and the cluelessness of Bouvard and Pecuchet annoying and a put off. Perhaps others had more success than me with this one? I guess I should still read ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
If you’re one of those people who have always wanted to dip into the tradition of the encyclopedic novel but have always been intimidated by the page count or just can’t find the time to swallow so damn much at one time then let me recommend as a great little gateway book this slim (280 pages!) little volume as what just might be the treat you’ve been waiting for. But how?! you might ask. Well see Flaubert in his research for this little unfinished novel (that’s a point in it’s favor now isn’t i ...more
Jay Green
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another of my absolute favourites. Includes the Dictionary of Received Ideas, which was shamelessly and profitably plagiarized by William Donaldson for his World According to Henry Root. Super stuff.

I'm going to have to write a longer review to explain why it is that this book means so much to me. It's a wonderful satire on "book learning" that many of us nerds might feel slighted by, but in fact the message I take away from it is about individuality and the fact that every book of instruction i
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, oulipo-mo
I just had a very Bouvard-Pécuchetian moment. After writing most of what I thought was a rather good review of Flaubert's Bouvard and Pécuchet, I clumsily exed out the tab holding my unpublished review. All that hard work and no fruit to bear! Flaubert is a keen master of small human foibles taken to extremes. In Madame Bovary, his very funny, though perhaps severely misunderstood novel about a woman's mawkish sentimentality whose vitality exceeds her own, Flaubert plays with the elements of com ...more
MJ Nicholls
Although Flaubert intended to make chumps of his protagonists, B&P are actually lovable eccentrics, whose inquiring minds put our dull unquestioning conformist lumps to shame. A tour through the humanities, sciences, and theologies woven around a tale of two civil servants free to pursue a life of the mind outside the drudgery of work, Flaubert’s last book is far from becoming the final masterpiece he intended, but still dazzles, tickles and titillates with erudition and high-class humour. Manny ...more
The peasant and the working-class world is no better treated by a Flaubert who, although born in Rouen, was no illusion as to the natural greed of his compatriots. The events of 1848, the great and small cowardice of the notables sifted. With a rare purity and the absolute opposite of the Hugo of the "Misérables", Flaubert finally camps irretrievable children of the convict that Bouvard & Pécuchet, as are philanthropists as moved as naive, try in vain to raise out of the mud where they were born ...more
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What does it mean to want to write, as Flaubert famously did, a book about nothing? If Bouvard and Pecuchet is any answer, it might be the attempt to move what we think of as fiction out of the province of princesses and Wutherings and so on, and move it into the drawing room of a pair of incidental little clerks - much the same way that Larry David/Jerry Seinfeld made us realize that spending a day trapped in a parking garage was as suitable a subject for a sitcom as, for example, having an ali ...more
The quiet transfiguration of wisdom

Some books are simply unique in the way they transform us, leaving an indelible mark as if a magic spell were cast on the reader. The transformation may not be immediate and evident at first sight and we may not acknowledge it the moment it appears, but when its indisputable presence manifests in its entirety, we realize how much of that change we’ve experienced.

Apparently, as it is revealed in his many letters, Gustave Flaubert had the idea of writing a new n
Quinn Slobodian
Aug 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best bros/worst bros, Flaubert split the pharmacist Homais from Bovary into two--Bouvard and Pécuchet--to have more surface area over which to pour his hatred of the educated middle class and all their pastimes and passions. Flaubert claimed to have read over 1,500 books in preparation for writing this one and it shows. B+P, two aging bachelors from Paris, move to the countryside on a financial windfall and indulge their desire to know and do, a desire that careens riduculously from electrocutin ...more
G.R. Reader
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why didn't someone tell me that Flaubert died before finishing this book? I mean, I could easily have found out by reading the preface or looking it up on Wikipedia, but I wanted to avoid spoilers. I'm guessing he had a twist planned. In the last chapter, I bet good old B&P would have tried another hare-brained scheme and it would actually have worked. Or has their insane optimism somehow infected me?

Anyway, I'm docking a star. Considering that you can lose a game outright by dying in the World
Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, french
Hilarious --especially because I imagined the whole book with Frog and Toad.


This unfinished work by Flaubert was both enjoyable and a slog to read. I liked the whole idea but it just kind of wears on and on. Two men become friends and one receives and inheritance, they both retire and move to the country where they try various things to find something to fill their days, end at never doing anything well, losing most of everything they had, including friends, contemplate suicide and the book ends with Christmas Eve. What a perfect timing to read this book. For that reaso ...more
Adam Floridia
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initial Complaints: I was ready to give up on this book, but I’m glad I didn’t. The nature of the book itself didn’t really change; rather, my expectations of it adjusted. Pleased that it was only 185 pages, I was originally eager to plough through it. It quickly became evident that a book containing all forms of knowledge would not be a light read. The fact that the protagonists’ first few academic pursuits were gardening, architecture, and archaeology did not help illicit an immediate interest ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second approach to a “full” (?) if it can be called that way, work of Gustave Flaubert, of whom I had read a few chapters of Madame Bovary and the Dictionary of Received Ideas previously, so with that and the critique, I thought I was ready to sink my nose in this book.

And it couldn’t have been more precise. Much like Don Quixote, when you think they have done badly enough to feel furstrated abnd quit, they just don’t.

It’s a bit difficult not to enjoy this and wonder what would have b
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this is an unusual book: meandering, pointless, infuriating and farcical. While reading it, I imagined Voltaire writing Last of the Summer Wine after reading too much Rabelais. The book opens with two strangers meeting by chance, finding that they have so much in common decide to buy a farm in the countryside as part of a mid-life crisis after Bouvard inherits a fortune from his uncle. The book then unfolds with a series of episodes in which Bouvard and Pecuchet take up hobbies and enthusi ...more
Jan 06, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: G.R. Reader
Shelves: published-1881

Opening: As there were thirty-three degrees of heat the Boulevard Bourdon was absolutely deserted.

Farther down, the Canal St. Martin, confined by two locks, showed in a straight line its water black as ink. In the middle of it was a boat, filled with timber, and on the bank were two rows of casks.

Beyond the canal, between the houses which separated the timber-yards, the great pure sky was cut up into plates of ultramarine; and under the reverberating light of
Justin Evans
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Too bad he never got to finish it- sounds like the complete two volumes would have been hilarious. What we have is still pretty funny, but I think the most impressive thing is that the usual progress of Flaubert's novels is inverted. Usually I'm filled with indignation at the way society treats an individual, but come to despise the idiotic protagonists. Here, the protagonists are complete and utter morons who don't seem to deserve any pity whatsoever. It slowly becomes clear, though, that their ...more
2½ stars - I found this more amusing in concept than in execution. Flaubert's satire just didn't strike a chord with me, although I found some sections highly entertaining. I think that for me, the main problem was that Bouvard and Pécuchet were just foils for the author to voice his opinions about the different subjects and so never became sympathetic - their ineptitude eventually grew to be irritating.

I did particularly like the section about educating Victor and Victorine, which I almost mis
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They set forth to find out how many A-presses it took to beat Super Mario 64. Pecuchet studied the science of cloning and Bouvard tried his best to understand parallel universes. In no time at all they cleared Watch For Rolling Rocks with just half an A-press. Soon they matched the 70 star run world record by clearing it with a single A-press. They put in weeks of work to deal with the remaining A-press, but the Z-buffer wouldn't budge. Cloning coins to gain sideways momentum took considerable e ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing unfinished novel by flaubert--he spent the last 8 years of his life working on it and claimed to have read 1,500 books in researching it. B. & P. are unhappy copy clerks who acquire an inheritance and retire together, spending the bulk of the novel reading books together. flaubert calls it an "encyclopedia made into farce" and ezra pound calls it "the inauguration of a new form which has no precedents." ...more
Kai Weber
This novel was probably more fun writing than reading. It is clear that Flaubert has read a lot, and that his readings found a condensate in this book. Yet for the reader it soon begins to smell like a predictable list. From the third chapter on one has understood that Bouvard and Pécuchet are going to try all kinds of crafts and sciences, and that they are going to fail with all of them. So while the structure and the outcome of the proceedings is clear from the beginning, we cannot look for sa ...more
Jackson Cyril
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A weird and "laugh-out-loud" funny book; but I'll have to mull over what it actually means. One doesn't read 1500 books to piss out a funny novel
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think
Recommended to Shelley by: Guardian Top Ten
You know that feeling when you meet someone special and exclaim, "Where have you been all my life?"--that feeling that draws Bouvard and Pecuchet together?--the feeling that overcame me as I read this book???

It starts off as a modern fairytale for nerds. Two soulmates meet in the most mundane of circumstances--not a whit of the dry humour is lost in this lovely translation by Mark Polizzotti--and are gifted with--alas!--a small inheritance. I have to admit that the idea of such an occurrence in
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two Parisian bachelors in their late 40s, copy-clerks by trade (having nice handwriting seems to be the principal job skill) meet and become fast friends. One gets a sufficient inheritance to move them both to a farm in a provincial town.
They then try their hands at every imaginable intellectual and practical pursuit, which becomes increasingly farcical as they go along.

Of limited education, they have great respect for authorities but start out thinking that there is not much to any area of know
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A clever critique of human activity, this becomes a litany of intellectual and physical labor of all that we do. The gems of insight into the inane behaviors of modern life and our limited understanding of the workings of the world are moving and thought-provoking.

There are other reviews that do more to describe the plot, but to simply put it: two friends (who became friends when they realized that they both wrote their names in the hats for fear that someone might steal them) gain an inheritan
Richard Thompson
Two fools come into money and conceive a passion for study, failing at one thing after another in an endless succession of obsessions. From gardening, to medicine, to archaelogy, to literature, to religion, to education, with many others sprinkled in between, they pick their subjects, gather books, read everything that they can find, then move to practice, wreaking havoc until their neighbors hate them, finally hitting a wall and then moving relentlessly to their next obsession. The process cont ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
not actually fun to read and definitely missing the polish of his other, main-run works. but proves he had a sense of humor, and that madame bovary is actually as funny as i think it is, cf. the botched surgery on poor dude's clubfoot. and the shit with the hat at the beginning. charbovari!!!!!! the dictionary of received ideas, which is included at the back of the dalkey archive version of this book, is unfuckwithable at points. at other points it is like the shadow star map of priggish liberal ...more
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Reading 1001: Bouvard and Pécuchet 5 24 Sep 30, 2020 08:04PM  
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Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He was born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, in the Haute-Normandie Region of France.

Flaubert's curious modes of composition favored and were emphasized by these peculiarities. He worked in sullen solitude, sometimes occupying a week in the completion of one page, never satisfied with what he had composed,

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