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Flaubert's Parrot

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  10,303 Ratings  ·  771 Reviews
Which of two stuffed parrots was the inspiration for one of Flaubert's greatest stories? Why did the master keep changing the colour of Emma Bovary's eyes? And why should it matter so much to Geoffrey Braithwaite, a retired doctor haunted by a private secret? In "Flaubert's Parrot", Julian Barnes spins out a multiple mystery of obsession and betrayal (both scholarly and ro ...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published 1985 by Picador (first published 1984)
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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)

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Kalliope
Nov 03, 2012 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
...more
Dolors
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Fabian
Apr 06, 2015 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 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. Emma Bovary.

Barnes merges poeti
...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
·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
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  ·  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
Apr 17, 2016 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
...more
Sofia
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Ποια γνώση είναι χρήσιμη, ποια γνώση είναι αληθινή;" Για το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο δεν μπορώ να δώσω κάποια θετική απάντηση. Οι γνώσεις μου γύρω απο τον Φλωμπερ περιοριζονται στην Μανταμ Μποβαρυ που μου άφησε χλιαρές εντυπώσεις και στην Αισθητική Αγωγή που μετά τις 10 πρώτες σελίδες άφησα στην άκρη για όποτε. Έμαθα φυσικά κάποιες πληροφορίες για την ζωή του Φλωμπερ (αληθινές ή όχι δεν μπορώ να πω) , αλλά θα μπορούσα να συνεχίσω την ζωή μου και χωρίς αυτές για να είμαι ειλικρινής.
Το βιβλίο έχει μεγ
...more
Edward
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Nora Barnacle
Nije Barns loš pisac.

Odličnu je temu izabrao i sjajno poentirao.

Za naratora je odredio lekara, zaljubljenika u Flobera, koji se razračunava sa književnim kritičarima i svima ostalima koji brutalno seciraju život pisca da bi pronašli nekakve skrivene smislove i značenja u njegovom delu, a još brutalnije njegova dela da bi pronašli makar kakvu tabloidnu bizarnost koja bi dokazala gnusnost piščeve ličnosti.

I sve ih je inteligentno porazio, da. Uključujući i Sartra.

Rekla bih da je bio na vrlo dobro
...more
Mala
May 06, 2012 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
...more
Trevor
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
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.
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 12, 2014 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
Bruce
Jan 17, 2014 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
...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.
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
Steve
Aug 15, 2007 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.
Nicole
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flaubert’s Parrot is the fictional literary theory of protagonist Geoffrey Braithwaite, retired doctor and self-proclaimed amateur Flaubert scholar. At times, the novel reads like a biography or a piece of literary criticism, filled with maxims and philosophical interludes about life, love, and art. The writing is often fragmentary; topics jump from Flaubert’s life to the struggles of the Flaubert scholar. Filled with a bit of humor and mystery, Braithwaite tries to identify the real parrot that ...more
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
Deea
Feb 19, 2015 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
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
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.
Israel Montoya Baquero
Sencillamente espectacular el libro que Barnes se saca de la manga: Flaubert, los loros, todo aquello que nunca se atrevio a preguntar sobre la figura del genio frances (y que no encontrara en este libro)...
Y ademas, te ries cosa mala leyendolo
Silvery
3 estrellas

¿Por qué la escritura hace que sigamos la pista del escritor? ¿Por qué no podemos dejarle en paz? ¿Por qué no basta con los libros?

Flaubert: El padre del realismo. El puente que une a Balzac con Joice. Precursor de Proust.

Dificil tarea calificar este libro. Por una parte me gusto bastante lo que se descubre de Flaubert, su vida y época; Aunque a la larga aburre. Por otro lado se me hizo un suplicio la historia del médico aficionado al escritor, un completo pedante...
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Around the Year i...: Flaubert's Parrot, by Julian Barnes 1 16 Jan 14, 2017 06:47AM  
The Bowie Book Club: Reading discussion 19 18 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  
Play Book Tag: Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes - 5 stars 5 14 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
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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.” 3634 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.” 504 likes
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