Flaubert by Frederick Brown
A Biography

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Synopsis

From the highly acclaimed author of Zola: A Life comes the definitive biography of Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary.Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), whose Madame Bovary outraged the right-thinking bourgeoisie, is now brought to life as the singular person and artist he was. As Frederick Brown reveals, Flaubert was fraught with contradiction--a sedentary man who took epic voyages through Egypt and the Middle East; a man of genius who could be flamboyantly uncouth, but was fanatically devoted to beautifully cadenced prose. While making much of his camaraderie with male friends, Flaubert depended upon the emotional nurture of maternal women, notably George Sand, with whom he engaged in a justly celebrated correspondence. His assorted mistresses--French, Egyptian, and English--fed both his richly erotic imagination and his fictional characters, and his letters provide a record of them.Flaubert's time and place literally put him on trial for portraying lewd behavior in Madame Bovary. His milieu also made him a celebrity and, indirectly, brought about his financial ruin. Flaubert died suddenly at the age of fifty-nine, and soon afterward, his beloved retreat near Rouen was torn down and converted into a distillery to cover his niece's debts. He privately dreamed of popular success, which he in fact achieved with Madame Bovary, but never sacrificed to it his ideal of artistic integrity. Frederick Brown's magisterial biography honors his subject's life, times, and legacy.
 

About Frederick Brown

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Frederick Brown is Professor Emeritus at the Department of European Languages and Literatures, the State University of New York at Stonybrook. He is the author of the classic biography of Zola.
 
Published April 6, 2006 by Little, Brown and Company. 640 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Brown does a particularly effective job of presenting the government’s prosecution of Madame Bovary, after its serialization in La Revue de Paris, as “harmful to public morals” and of analyzing Flaubert’s complex reaction to his acquittal.

Apr 04 2006 | Read Full Review of Flaubert: A Biography

The New York Times

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"Happy are they who don't doubt themselves and whose pens fly across the page," Gustave Flaubert wrote in 1847, when he was 25.

Apr 12 2006 | Read Full Review of Flaubert: A Biography

The New York Times

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Novelists should thank Gustave Flaubert the way poets thank spring: it begins again with him.

Apr 16 2006 | Read Full Review of Flaubert: A Biography

The Guardian

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Flaubert: A Life by Frederick Brown 630pp, Heinemann, £25 Gustave Flaubert called himself "l'homme-plume", the pen-man, and could quote reams of prose and poetry by heart.

Jul 29 2006 | Read Full Review of Flaubert: A Biography

London Review of Books

Of the three books that Gustave Flaubert was able to write only after a lengthy cohabitation with his sources, Bouvard et Pécuchet is by some way the most approachable.

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Bookmarks Magazine

James Wood Houston Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars "Refreshingly, after so many post-Freudian biographies, Brown is content to present Flaubert’s life to us uninterpreted rather than shrivel down complexities of character with psychological ‘explanations.’" Charles Matthews Wall Street Journal 4 of ...

Aug 29 2007 | Read Full Review of Flaubert: A Biography

The New York Review of Books

The fact that his Flaubert is the fourth substantial biography in the last eighteen years (after Henri Troyat, 1988, Herbert Lottman, 1989, and Geoffrey Wall, 2001) is more a tribute to the novelist’s resurgent reputation—a resurgence inspired, as much as anything, by Sartre’s attempt to kill Fla...

May 25 2006 | Read Full Review of Flaubert: A Biography

Fiction Writers Review

“Novelists,” writes the critic James Wood, “should thank Flaubert the way poets thank spring: it all begins again with him.” But in 1857, few were thanking Flaubert, least of all Ernest Pinard, the imperial prosecutor who sought to have Madame Bovary banned: “Who in this book can condemn this wo...

Dec 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Flaubert: A Biography

Project MUSE

Drawing on his years of genetic research using Flaubert's notes and manuscripts, Biasi's book roughly follows a chronological approach to Flaubert's life, but is enlivened by essays and interviews.

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Project MUSE

In Flaubert: A Biography, Frederick Brown describes Flaubert's novel L'Éducation sentimentale as "a story unfolding scene by scene and within a historical context.

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Project MUSE

Designed to instruire et plaire rather than serve as a scholarly reference work (all quotations, including many from Flaubert's Correspondance, are in English, no sources are given, there is no index and only the sketchiest of bibliographies), Brief Lives: Gustave Flaubert provides a wonderful in...

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