Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Flaubert's Parrot” as Want to Read:
Flaubert's Parrot
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Flaubert's Parrot

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  11,162 ratings  ·  866 reviews
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 slowly revealed.

A compelling weave of fiction and imag
...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published November 27th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1984)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Flaubert's Parrot, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Moonshine Noire Quite a few actually. The most mentioned ones are Un Coeur Simple and Madame Bovary as you might expect.
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…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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,162 ratings  ·  866 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Kalliope
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
...more
Dolors
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
...more
Fionnuala
This book has been perched on my to-read shelf for quite a few years, so that recently, fresh from reading Madame Bovary and L'éducation sentimentale (as well as Bouvard Et Pécuchet), I thought it the perfect moment 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 her ...more
Jaline - (on partial hiatus)
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
...more
Fabian
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 arrestingly brilliant; this may be one of the best literary dissertations 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. E. Bovary.

Barnes merges poetics
...more
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
...more
·Karen·
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
Ailsa
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I attract mad people and animals."

Loved.
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
...more
Bianca
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' br
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Edward
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
Mala
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
...more
Trevor
Oct 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, biography
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
Shovelmonkey1
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
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.

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
...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
Manny
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.
Deea
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
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
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Teresa
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.
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Steve
Aug 15, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Chrissie
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a recent fan of Julian Barnes. I adored The Sense of an Ending, this was also beautifully written, but a must for anyone who wants to learn about Gustave Flaubert!
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
Mattia Ravasi
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Video review

"It would then seem reasonable to conclude that HP Lovecraft owned no gerbils, never encountered any gerbil, and did not spend any significant amoung of time pondering the topic of gerbils" (Ravasi, Lovecraft's Gerbil 978)
El
Jun 07, 2008 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
Hadrian
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading 1001: Flaubert's Parrot - Julian Barnes. 3 15 Oct 30, 2018 11:39AM  
Around the Year i...: Flaubert's Parrot, by Julian Barnes 1 20 Jan 14, 2017 06:47AM  
The Bowie Book Club: Reading discussion 19 20 Oct 10, 2016 11:09AM  
The Bowie Book Club: Book review 5 10 Oct 05, 2016 03:30AM  
The Bowie Book Club: The influence on Bowie and others 7 12 Sep 20, 2016 09:36PM  
The Bowie Book Club: Which edition are you reading? 3 5 Sep 12, 2016 12:25PM  
The Bowie Book Club: General comments, background and resources 9 8 Sep 04, 2016 11:20AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Augustus Carp, Esq. by Himself, Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man
  • David Bomberg
  • Octobriana and the Russian Underground
  • Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective
  • The Harpole Report
  • Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, First Series
  • A Grave for a Dolphin
  • The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll
  • In Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture
  • The Bottle Factory Outing
  • Slouching Towards Kalamazoo
  • Strange People
  • Tales of Beatnik Glory
  • The Life And Times Of Little Richard
  • Ennui
  • Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music
  • Illywhacker
  • Puckoon
See similar books…
4,221 followers
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
“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.” 3682 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.” 509 likes
More quotes…