Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)


Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen on December 12, 1821. I’ve read several of his books including the one which is probably the best known, Madame Bovary. A number of years ago the French Literature group held an informal poll in which we listed our twenty favorite works by French authors. Madame Bovary was the only book which was included on everyone’s list. The English translation by Eleanor Marx-Aveling is available free in a choice of formats at Project Gutenberg or in audio from LibriVox.


13 comments on “Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

  1. Mike says:

    Flaubert is such an exacting writer it’s worth sharpening your French language skills just to read him in the original.

    Although I concede that Madame Bovary is almost a perfect novel, my vote goes to Bouvard et Pécuchet for Flaubert’s best novel. If only it had been finished before the author’s death.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan says:

      ‘Bouvard and Pécuchet’ will probably be my next Flaubert book. It looks as if it’s very modern and probably ahead of its time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dagny says:

      Ah, Mike, I only took one, maybe two semesters of French fifty years ago. It would take some sharpening! If wishes were horses, as they say. I did have three years of Spanish.


      • Mike says:

        I had five years of Spanish and with a little practice, probably read in Spanish much better than I do in French. I actually only had one semester of French at the university in (1965) but the Kid is fluent and has forced me on many occasions to read French literature or proofread theme-papers in French, etc.

        I do contend that a great way to engorge your little gray cells with French is to read, read, read. I once imagined that after reading all of Proust in French, by the time I got to the last page, I would be a native.

        One of my minor treasures is a small book the Kid picked up in Florence. It is a French translation of the Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez originally written in Spanish and published in Mexico. If it had contained an old German bookmark it would have been perfect.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dagny says:

          Impressive, Mike, and kudos to the Kid. Your one semester is almost as far back as mine – close enough to say it was. Mine was in either 62 or 63.


        • Emma says:

          Reafing Proust in the original, impressive. It’s difficult even for a native. (I’m French, btw) I think the English equivalent is Henry James.


        • Mike says:

          But I only made it through the first volume. However, I recently bought a new French Edition so I’m contemplating starting all over again.

          Yes, Henry James is often a difficult read and I, not being well founded in my own country’s literature, have many of his books yet to read. But there is a difference which I cannot describe: I love to read Proust but James is a chore … go figure!


  2. FictionFan says:

    Madame Bovary is the only one of his I’ve read, and that was long, long ago. I did try to read it in French but quickly realised that my French just wasn’t up to getting nuance, so switched to a translation. Still enjoyed it very much, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Emma says:

    Flaubert is marvellous in Madame Bovary. It’s so well written and so offensive for the time. There’s the adultery of course but the attacks of religion and politics are equally bold.

    Liked by 1 person

Your thoughts or comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s