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I think the best biographies of Flaubert are the well-annotated editions of his letters - but I enjoyed Brown’s book. I found its summaries of 1830, ‘48, and ‘71 accessible, illuminating, and spurs to further reading.
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 t...
Whew, this one took a while. The first hundred pages or so were a most effective soporific since they dealt with Flaubert's familial antecedents and the educational system of early nineteenth century France. However, once Gustave himself shows up the pace quickens and it becomes a much more interesting read. I particularly appreciated the mix of social, cultural, and political history that occurred throughout Flaubert's life. The fact that he was put on trial for obscenity after the publication
the master realist who fled from reality Gustave Flaubert has never occupied a central place in my thoughts, nor in my reading experience. However, he is known as the teacher or inspiration for a legion of famous writers---Zola, de Maupassant, Turgenev, Daudet, Kafka, Vargas Llosa and many a 20th century French philosopher. "Madame Bovary" is on everyone's list of great novels of world literature. So, I decided to read Brown's FLAUBERT to find out more about this author because I knew very littl...
This review originally ran in the Houston Chronicle: Gustave Flaubert claimed to have read 1,500 books while doing the research for his novel Bouvard et Pécuchet, Frederick Brown tells us. While working on La Tentation de Saint Antoine, Flaubert "immersed himself in scholasticism, the lives of the saints, and whatever he could find on early Christian heresies." Even his short story "Hérodias" "was distilled from hundreds of pages of notes on Roman administration, biblical toponymy, numismatics,
A thoroughly research, beautifully biography of the man, but unfortunately Brown seems to forget that Flaubert was also a writer. I can identify Flaubert's dinner partners and the salons he frequented, etc., but Brown doesn't explain the writer. Why, for example, did the story of Salambo resonate with F? What circumstances in his life prompted him to invest years of labor in his novel about St. Anthony? And so on. I have developed my own guesses from the material Brown presented, but my capacity...
Frederick Brown knows his context, sure, but even after this many pages I am seriously in doubt whether he knows his Flaubert beyond the facts. But then again, it reminds me how bloody difficult it must be to write even a mediocre biography of an author, and let's assume that Brown admires Flaubert enough to aim slightly higher than towards a mediocre of a biography about the man, but to render it in monotone, passionless prose?
Brilliant and well written-- this is a very entertaining biography of a fascinating writer. Brown is incredibly knowledgeable not only about Flaubert but also about France-- it's culture and politics-- during Flaubert's life.
Geoffrey Wall's 2002 biography, Flaubert: A Life, sought to unwrap the inscrutable author through Freudian analysis, but critics seem to prefer Brown's more straightforward approach. The literary biographer__see Brown's Zola: A Life (1995)__delivers the earthier elements of Flaubert's story with panache and marshals an impressive array of research on French history to provide rich context for his story. If Brown has a tendency toward an overwhelmingly detailed exegesis of Flaubert's works, it's
It took forever to finish this. A lot about the history of the period and lives of those around the author, so much that one often wonders why it is necessary. Flaubert seems to have been something of a ladies man although he never married. His joy in women is made clear in his letters and relationships. For a man who led such a frolicing early life, this particular biography is kind of lethargic.
Loved it for the subject matter. The form I was less enamored with. Could have used more in-depth view of the people who remained important presences in Flaubert's life, and shorter digressions on political/social context and celebrities who briefly pop into and out of the narrative. But it is hard to find fault with a fellow Flaubert-lover.
Very comprehensive and includes more quotes from his letters than the Geoffrey Wall biography, which is more direct and refreshing. Brown's writing style can be convoluted and cumbersome but the material itself is extremely satisfying.
Good reads rating 76.4
I have not finished reading it. I have a lot of post-its to return to and start my review which should be by the end of the week. First draft due on or about February 15, 2010.
This was a fascinating read.
The best part is reading how middle-class, well-educated young adults in the mid-1800s mulled over the same things we do-- what should I do with my life, should I go to law school, etc?
Flaubert! Very interesting individual. Brown brings the man to life.