A great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Gustave Flaubert and the critical discussions surrounding his work.
Considered a prolific pioneer of literary realism and one of the founders of modern fiction, French author Gustave Flaubert is known for his strong sense of style and obsession with le mot juste (the right word). This volume examines Flaubert's quest for literary perfection, his extensive correspondence with such contemporaries as Ivan Turgenev and Guy de Maupassant, and his most famous work, Madame Bovary.
However, Flaubert was not a one-book author, and he continued to innovate and astonish—not that his upsetting of expectations, often bizarrely, would necessarily go down well with his contemporaries. Indeed, in the wake of modernism—of which Flaubert was acknowledged to be a major precursor—it is twentieth century readers, rather than their nineteenth-century counterparts, who have enabled him to come into his own. That said, Flaubert was not without his admirers (and even disciples) in his later years: to them he was the “cher Maître.”
Gustave Flaubert became widely known throughout the twentieth century, having many admirers and even disciples. Today, Flaubert's works-in particular Madame Bovary and the Trois contes (1877)-are studied in schools and universities and not always in the French and Modern Languages departments. As a major figure in Western literature and culture, he is also studied, in translation, as a part of survey courses in literature and humanities.
The main chapters of the present volume consist of four studies of Flaubert in context, followed by a series of more detailed critical and often close readings. Our contributors include both well-known figures in Flaubert studies, as well as younger scholars who have begun to make their mark.
Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:
- A chronology of the author's life
- A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
- A general bibliography
- A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
- Notes on the individual chapter authors
- A subject index