Gustave Flaubert Biography


Type: Novelist

Born: 12 December 1821

Died: 8 May 1880 (aged 58)

The publication of Madame Bovary in 1856 was followed by more scandal than admiration; it was not understood at first that this novel was the beginning of something new: the scrupulously truthful portraiture of life. Gradually, this aspect of his genius was accepted, and it began to crowd out all others. At the time of his death he was widely regarded as the most influential French Realist. Under this aspect Flaubert exercised an extraordinary influence over Guy de Maupassant, Edmond de Goncourt, Alphonse Daudet, and Zola. Even after the decline of the Realist school, Flaubert did not lose prestige in the literary community; he continues to appeal to other writers because of his deep commitment to aesthetic principles, his devotion to style, and his indefatigable pursuit of the perfect expression.

He has been admired or written about by almost every major literary personality of the 20th century, including philosophers and sociologists such as Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Paul Sartre whose partially psychoanalytic portrait of Flaubert in The Family Idiot was published in 1971. Georges Perec named Sentimental Education as one of his favourite novels. The Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa is another great admirer of Flaubert.

Major works:

  • Rêve d'enfer (1837)
  • Memoirs of a Madman (1838)
  • Madame Bovary (1857)
  • Salammbô (1862)
  • Sentimental Education (1869)
  • Le Candidat (1874)
  • The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1874)
  • -
  • Three Tales (1877)
  • Le Château des cœurs (1880)
  • Bouvard et Pécuchet (1881)
  • Dictionary of Received Ideas (1911)
  • Souvenirs, notes et pensées intimes (1965)

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