James Murphy's Reviews > Flaubert: A Biography

Flaubert by Frederick Brown
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Jun 18, 2009

really liked it

I love biography like this. Brown has written Flaubert's life so rich it becomes in part social portrait. Such events in the life of France as the great 1848 Revolution and the Franco-Prussian War are events affecting Flaubert, too, and so their detailed discussion adds to our understanding of the man. In telling Flaubert's story he has to tell France's, a double portrait. The same is true for the lives he touched. Ivan Turgenev, Louise Colet, George Sand, the Goncourts are given full, rounded treatments, their importance to 19th century letters covered as well as their importance to Flaubert. I'm not sure I learned that much about these relationships, though George Sand was more important to him and Louise Colet less so than I'd imagined. This is critical biography, too. The individual works are rigorously discussed from inception to reception by the public and those of the academy. In Brown's hands Salammbo and L'Education sentimentale are given the same weight as Madame Bovary. And the events of Flaubert's life germinating the works, such as the famous journey through Egypt, are described in depth. Flaubert's life is made a story unfolded as richly as that of a character of a novel.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by ·Karen· (new) - added it

·Karen· Love the cover artwork!

James Murphy Pretty, isn't it? I had to go look to see it's a reproduction of a painting by Camille Pissarro called Quai Napoleon, Rouen, from 1883. I love it when publishers go to some trouble to give us an attractive package. The dustjacket is on especially heavy paper, too, and the book itself printed on dense, glossy paper so that it sits heavy and satisfyingly in the lap.

message 3: by ·Karen· (new) - added it

·Karen· Ah well. I've had nice Xmas presents from all my courses, I think that makes 5 book vouchers, so it's going on the list.

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