"Madame Bovary, c'est moi!"
(1821-1880) is known today by many labels that he would despise today, namely he's famous for his realism, a term he was always skeptical and ambiguous about, for his harshness to his characters, despite the fact that he famously stated that he identified with his characters to a painful degree and for his dry realist setting, despite his obsessive, fevered imaginings of the Ancient World in his historical fiction.
Flaubert's writing style is famous for its economy and its precision, there is very few words wasted on scene setting, character description and plot, its eye for sociological and psychological detail and for the very distinct tone of narration which, while striving to erase sentiment towards characters, often carried with it a highly ironic and witty personality, far from the scientific and sociological approach of his disciples and imitators. He was also one of the first writers who put a high weight on style, correct discipline of writing and famed for obsessing over "le mot juste". He was noted for his obsessive research into background and history, in a way becoming a precursor to James Joyce
who always cited Flaubert as one of his favorites.Madame Bovary
of course is his most famous, widely read and influential work. When it was published in serial form, the suspected lurid nature of the story, a fairly non-judgmental story of a wife committing adultery, provoked controversy and Flaubert was called to trial where he defended his work. After being cleared, the book was subsequently published and became a success partly out of scandal and partly out of literary merit. Largely due to Small Reference Pools
, Madame Bovary
is Flaubert's most famous book with his follow-up works Salammb˘
and Sentimental Education
not being as famous today, though the former was a classic for the 19th Century.
Because of his obsessive research, extended writing time, Flaubert only completed three novels in his lifetime. In addition to this, he wrote a collection of short stories Three Tales
and a Verse Drama The Temptation of Saint Anthony
that was a fevered work on religion and philosophy on the line of Goethe's Faust
. He was a regular letter-writer throughout his life and collected editions of his letters are highly prized by writers. After his death, his posthumous works Bouvard et Pecuchet
and The Dictionary of Recieved Ideas
have also gotten their due.
- Madame Bovary (1857)
- Salammb˘ (1862)
- Sentimental Education (1869)
- The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1874)
- Three Tales (1877) - A Simple Heart, The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller, Herodias
- Bouvard et PÚcuchet (1881)
- Dictionary of Received Ideas (1911)