Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert (güstäv´ flōbĕr´), 1821–80, French novelist, regarded as one of the supreme masters of the realistic novel. He was a scrupulous, slow writer, intent on the exact word (le mot juste) and complete objectivity. The son of a surgeon, he studied law unsuccessfully in Paris and returned home to devote himself to writing. Because of a severe nervous malady, probably epilepsy, he spent much of his life at Croisset, near Rouen, with his mother and niece. Nonetheless, he also became an established figure in the Parisian social and literary world. In 1856, after five years of work, Flaubert published his masterpiece, Madame Bovary, in a Paris journal. Portraying the frustrations and love affairs of a romantic young woman married to a dull provincial doctor, the novel is written in a superbly controlled style. The book resulted in his being prosecuted on moral grounds, but he won the case. It was followed by Salammbô (1863), a meticulously documented novel of ancient Carthage; a revision of an earlier novel, L'Éducation sentimentale (1870); The Temptation of St. Anthony (1874); and Three Tales (1877), which contained the great short story "A Simple Heart." After his death his unfinished satire Bouvard and Pécuchet was published (1881). His correspondence, including that with George Sand and the letters to his niece Caroline, appeared in nine volumes (1926–33).

See The Selected Letters of Flaubert (ed. and tr. by F. Steegmuller, 1954); biographies by E. Starkie (Vol. I, 1967; Vol. II, 1971), G. Wall (2002), and F. Brown (2006); study by V. H. Brombert (1966); H. James, Notes on Novelists (1914), and F. Steegmuller, Flaubert and Madame Bovary (rev. ed. 1968).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Gustave Flaubert
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1989
Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town
Gustave Flaubert; Gerard Hopkins.
Oxford University Press, 1998
FREE! Salammbo: A Romance of Ancient Carthage
Gustave Flaubert; M. French Sheldon.
Saxon, 1885
Three Tales
Gustave Flaubert; A. J. Krailsheimer.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Includes "A Simple Heart," "The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller," and "Herodias"
A Sentimental Education: The Story of a Young Man
Gustave Flaubert; Douglas Parmee.
Oxford University Press, 2000
A Gustave Flaubert Encyclopedia
Laurence M. Porter.
Greenwood Press, 2001
Breaking the Chain: Women, Theory, and French Realist Fiction
Naomi Schor.
Columbia University Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "For a Restricted Thematics: Writing, Speech, and Difference in Madame Bovary" and Chap. 6 "Salammbo Bound"
Literature and Material Culture from Balzac to Proust: The Collection and Consumption of Curiosities
Janell Watson.
Cambridge University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Flaubert's 'Musees Recus': Bouvard and Pecuchet's Consumerist Epistemology"
Fiction Rivals Science: The French Novel from Balzac to Proust
Allen Thiher.
University of Missouri Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Three "Flaubert and the Ambiguous Victory of Positivism"
The End of the Line: Essays on Psychoanalysis and the Sublime
Neil Hertz.
Columbia University Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Flaubert's Conversion"
The Writer's Responsibility in France: From Flaubert to Sartre (1)
Sapiro, Gisele.
French Politics, Culture and Society, Vol. 25, No. 1, Spring 2007
Pricking the Male Ego: Pins and Needles in Flaubert, Maupassant, and Zola.(Critical Essay)
Donaldson-Evans, Mary.
Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Spring-Summer 2002
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