The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857, Volume 1

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1980 - Literary Criticism - 270 pages
2 Reviews

Flaubert wrote to his mistress, Louise Colet: "An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere." In his books, Flaubert sought to observe that principle; but in his many impassioned letters he allowed his feelings to overflow, revealing himself in all of his human complexity. Sensuous, witty, exalted, ironic, grave, analytical, the letters illustrate the artist's life--and they trumpet his artistic opinions--in an outpouring of uninhibited eloquence.

An acknowledged master of translation, Francis Steegmuller has given us by far the most generous and varied selection of Flaubert's letters in English. He presents these with an engrossing narrative that places them in the context of the writer's life and times. We follow Flaubert through his unhappy years at law school, through his tumultuous affair with Louise Colet; we share his days and nights amid the temples and brothels of Egypt, then on to Palestine, Turkey, Greece, and Rome. And the letters chronicle one of the central events in literary history--the conception and composition of what has been called the first modern novel, Madame Bovary. Steegmuller's selection concludes with Flaubert's standing trial for immoral writing, Madame Bovary's immediate popular success, and Baudelaire's celebration of its psychological and literary power.

Throughout this exposition in Flaubert's own words of his views on life, literature, and the passions, readers of his novels will be powerfully reminded of the fertility of his genius, and delighted by his poetic enthusiasm. "Let us sing to Apollo as in ancient days," he wrote to Louise Colet, "and breathe deeply of the fresh cold air of Parnassus; let us strum our guitars and clash our cymbals and whirl like dervishes in the eternal hubbub of forms and ideas!"

Flaubert's letters are documents of life and art; lovers of literature and of the literary adventure can rejoice in this edition.

  

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Review: The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857

User Review  - Max Frick - Goodreads

Enlightening and truly inspirational. Some of the greatest and most famous quotes in all literature come from this volume of letters. Re-read it whenever you feel your writerly spirit waning. Read full review

Review: The Letters, 1830-1880

User Review  - Laurent - Goodreads

Since Flaubert tried to separate his literary work from his private life this makes for a very enlightening read, showing the (witty and somewhat flawed) man behind Madame Bovary, Bouvard & Pécuchet ... Read full review

Contents

THE BILLIARD TABLE THE COLLEGE
1
THE
13
BREAKDOWN TRAVEL MOURNING
21
LOUISE COLET I
43
VOYAGE EN ORIENT
99
MADAME BOVARY
141
PUBLICATION TRIAL TRIUMPH
217
Appendix I
237
Works of Related Interest
246
Copyright

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About the author (1980)

Born in the town of Rouen, in northern France, in 1821, Gustave Flaubert was sent to study law in Paris at the age of 18. After only three years, his career was interrupted and he retired to live with his widowed mother in their family home at Croisset, on the banks of the Seine River. Supported by a private income, he devoted himself to his writing. Flaubert traveled with writer Maxime du Camp from November 1849 to April 1851 to North Africa, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. When he returned he began Madame Bovary, which appeared first in the Revue in 1856 and in book form the next year. The realistic depiction of adultery was condemned as immoral and Flaubert was prosecuted, but escaped conviction. Other major works include Salammbo (1862), Sentimental Education (1869), and The Temptation of Saint Antony (1874). His long novel Bouvard et Pecuchet was unfinished at his death in 1880. After his death, Flaubert's fame and reputation grew steadily, strengthened by the publication of his unfinished novel in 1881 and the many volumes of his correspondence.

Francis Steegmuller is the author of more than twenty books and a recipient of numerous awards and honors. His translation of Madame Bovary is an acknowledged classic. In 1982 the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded him its Gold Medal for Biography.

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