Where to start reading Gustave Flaubert?

Where to start reading Gustave Flaubert?

Updated: November 19, 2023 by Mylene in Start reading

Gustave Flaubert, a French writer of the 19th century, played an important role in the realism movement and influenced naturalists. The term bovarysm is used to describe a behavior that involves fleeing in a dream from the dissatisfaction of life. Madame Bovary, a story by Flaubert, made this behavior famous. For Gustave Flaubert, writing is the result of meticulous investigation and hard work.

Are you curious about reading Gustave Flaubert’s books, but you’re hesitant to dive into his 500-page novels? You may be better served by familiarizing yourself with the author’s shorter works, such as Sentimental Education and Salammbô.

Memoirs of a madman (1901)

When he was seventeen, Flaubert described landscapes, his college years, his vacations in Normandy, and women. His gaze, infused with youthful illusions and disillusionment, is characterized by a gloomy quality. Memoirs of a madman, written in 1838 and published posthumously in 1901, served as a source of inspiration for his later sentimental education, which would be published a few years later. The narration begins with the gaze of the 17-year-old young man, who appears to express a surprising disillusionment. He becomes tired of this attitude and returns to a time when everything was new and pure, like love. No, it is not about love, but about a woman. The chapters follow one another without having any relationship between them. However, this does not appear to be the work of a madman, but rather of a young man who wonders about life and the place of man in 19th century society.

A simple heart (1877)

The facts take place in the Normandy countryside shortly after 1810. After a disappointment in love, Félicité, 18, joins the service of Mrs. Aubain, a young widow with two children. She is completely committed to her mistress. Félicité will shift her focus and affectation in accordance with the current events. The story is deeply moving and touching. A Simple Heart, also known as Un Cœur Simple in French, is part of Flaubert’s collection of three short stories, collectively titled Three Tales (Trois contes).

The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller (1877)

In Flaubert’s story, between the marvelous tale and the medieval novel, the cruel and fabulous destiny of the legendary Saint Julien l’Hospitalier is portrayed. Flaubert was inspired by the stained-glass windows at Rouen Cathedral. Julien, who was born of noble parents, is a vigorous, ardent, and very cruel young person. When he had just killed several stags, he saw the approaching big male. He speaks to him: “Cursed! One day, fierce heart, you will murder your father and your mother!”. Julien, frightened by this prophecy, gives up the hunt. He escaped from the castle to lead an adventurous life. The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller, also known as La Légende de Saint Julien l’Hospitalier in French, is the second short story included in the collection Three Tales, published in 1877.

The beauty of the French language and its literature

For French language learners, let us conclude by recognizing the significance of embracing captivating literature to strengthen your language skills. Just as it is vitally important to read books that inspire, transform, and challenge, joining a book club offers you a pathway to linguistic growth. Through the timeless short stories “A Simple Heart” and “The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller” by Gustave Flaubert, you’ll delve into the depths of human emotions and moral dilemmas.

Participating in live call discussions with other learners is a sure way to enhance your language skills and celebrate the richness of French literature. Embrace these remarkable stories and make your language journey both fulfilling and intellectually rewarding by joining our online French book club.

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