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Flaubert's Parrot

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  13,330 ratings  ·  1,136 reviews
Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011

Flaubert's Parrot deals with Flaubert, parrots, bears and railways; with our sense of the past and our sense of abroad; with France and England, life and art, sex and death, George Sand and Louise Colet, aesthetics and redcurrant jam; and with its enigmatic narrator, a retired English doctor, whose life and secrets are slo
Paperback, 190 pages
Published November 27th 1990 by Vintage (first published October 1st 1984)
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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 it…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)
Saul Stokar Also Sentimental Education (L'Éducation sentimentale) …moreAlso Sentimental Education (L'Éducation sentimentale) (less)

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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Vit Babenco
Sep 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How can we know the past? Old articles are silent witnesses of the days gone… The old object in question is a green stuffed parrot…
How do we seize the past? Can we ever do so? When I was a medical student some pranksters at an end-of-term dance released into the hall a piglet which had been smeared with grease. It squirmed between legs, evaded capture, squealed a lot. People fell over trying to grasp it, and were made to look ridiculous in the process. The past often seems to behave like that pi
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
This book has been perched on my to-read shelf for quite a few years, and recently, fresh from reading Madame Bovary and L'éducation sentimentale (as well as Bouvard Et Pécuchet), I thought the perfect moment had arrived to take Flaubert's Parrot down from the shelf and dust him off. On page sixteen however, Julien Barnes mentions Flaubert's Un coeur simple, saying, perhaps you know the story. I didn't, so I put Flaubert's Parrot back on the shelf and read the perfect little tale of Félicité and ...more
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 arresting and brilliant; this may be one of the best literary dissertations of all time. & 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. E. Bovary.

Barnes merges poetics
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
Geoffrey Braithwaite, a doctor with three children, takes a vacation to Rouen in France to pay homage to his literary hero, Gustave Flaubert, most famously known for his novel Madame Bovary. On this pilgrimage, Dr. Braithwaite is stimulated to think of the many arguments and critiques of his hero and we are drawn along with him. An example of his arguments is in his response to critics who claimed Flaubert was not patriotic:

“The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dis
Aug 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lori by: Numidica
This is now among my Favorite novels.
And you don't need to admire or even have read Flaubert to appreciate it.
It's ingenious: composed of crisp and clear prose, clever, intelligent, literary.
With parrots, crab lice and a five-legged sheep.
Intriguing and at times hilarious -- a light-hearted novel with intellectual heft that's a party between the pages.
Julian Barnes, I bow to what you've done here.
More detailed review to come sometime -- or maybe this is It.

Thanks, Numidica!
Jim Fonseca
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I attract mad people and animals."

A novelised biography of Gustave Flaubert. But better than that sounds.
I get the feeling that while Julian Barnes was stalking his favourite author, he found so many oddities and pleasing coincidences (les perroquets !) that he kept a journal entitled “Cool shit I know about Flaubert and other musings” which became this book.
The obsession rubs off. You’re lying if you enjoyed this and didn’t contemplate ordering “A Simple Soul”.

This quote cut too close
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, bookers
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
May 25, 2015 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
Through the first books I read of Barnes, I met a Barnes consumed by love in its purest and most devastating sense. I would not have thought, however, that he could be also a victim of another kind of love, one of deification, and the force of deepening his own feelings to be as strong as in the case of love for his wife, after her dissapearance, a chapter that marked him overwhelmingly.

Barnes dedicates an unusual novel to Flaubert - " Flaubert's Parrot" - a book marked by orality, ( almost ) a
Is it splendid, or stupid, to take life seriously?

When I began listening to this audiobook, I wasn't in the right state of mind, as I was distracted and couldn't concentrate, so I was about to give up on it. I'm glad that I stuck it out, because, it turned out to be brilliant, delightful, surprising, and altogether original. I shouldn't be surprised, after all, the previous six Barnes books I listened to this year were of the highest quality - always extremely eloquent.

I am awed by Barnes'
SPOILER ALERT! It takes a while to realize what this little book is about: at first you have the impression Barnes lets us share his passion for the 19th Century French author Flaubert, master of the realistic school. We seem to follow Barnes in a visit to Rouen and other places, and learn to know the mystery of the two stuffed parrots, of which at least one (well, perhaps...) stood on the desk of Flaubert and which was his model for a short story. But then, gradually, it becomes clear that not ...more
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Why does the writing make us chase the writer? Why can’t we leave well alone? Why aren’t books enough?”(p. 12)

I have so many questions about Julian Barnes’ 'Flaubert’s Parrot':

Does this book deal with Flaubert’s life? Yes – to some extent. It has an odd structure – somewhere between fiction and nonfiction. The book is confusing and enlightening at the same time, and I’m asking myself, where do we draw the line between fiction and nonfiction, and is this even possible?

Who is the unreliable nar
Oct 23, 2016 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
Trevor (I sometimes get notified of comments)
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
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 books: A
Dec 06, 2011 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
Dec 20, 2008 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.
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
Feb 07, 2009 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. ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-lit, re-read
Recently, I had the chance of visiting a bookstore with a friend, after our vaccinations and easing of restrictions, that produced a wonderful experience, namely finding this book. Not the Julian Barnes book but Gustave Flaubert’s “Trois Contes.” It featured a parrot on the cover. The story was “A Simple Heart.”

To be honest, I didn’t remember a thing about this tale. It was a little underwhelming, I had to look up a lot of the rural French words, found it rather depressing (review to come later)
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

I'm very happy I read Julian Barnes' novelistic homage to Flaubert for a number of reasons, not least because I now realize how badly I misunderstood Madame Bovary in my first reading. Barnes brings Flaubert (his hero) to life in a way that a conventional biography would likely struggle to do. And Barnes knows his subject so well that one can trust him completely in his revivification of the great author. The plot, of an elderly doctor obsessively researching Flaubert, is interesting,
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Aug 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating novel/miscellany about understanding achieved through indirect approach, and about the entanglement of life and art. The narrator Geoffrey Braithwaite’s story comes to us only indirectly, through his scattershot ramble through the story of Flaubert. And he handles that the same way; there are chronologies and other bits of straightforward narrativizing, but otherwise he mostly gets at Flaubert indirectly through surveys and magpie collections of biographical minutiae: anecdotes, vi ...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
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Reading 1001: Flaubert's Parrot - Julian Barnes. 3 20 Oct 30, 2018 11:39AM  
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The Bowie Book Club: The influence on Bowie and others 7 16 Sep 20, 2016 09:36PM  
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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 and

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