Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Gustave Flaubert (author of Madame Bovary)
Since I am about to embark on a Madame Bovary read-along hosted by Nonsuch Book I decided to look briefly at the life of its author Gustave Flaubert. This is something I quite often do when reading classic novels as I find that having an understanding of the author's life and when they wrote it helps put the novel into context.
Flaubert was born in 1821 in France and began writing from a very early age. In 1840 he went to Paris to study Law but decided he didn't like it and dropped out. His first finished work was completed in 1842 and was a novella entitled November which was about a young boy and his relationship with a courtesan
He completed Madame Bovary in 1850 It took him 5 years to write. The government immediately tried to charge Flaubert and the publisher for immortality but was acquitted. Madame Bovary has stood out from among his works due to the realist and more truthful view of life which inspired future writers. The book is set at a time when there was a great rise of power among the bourgeois middle class which Flaubert detested. According to Wikipedia, the reader should therefore view the passages of the book where the country French customs are detailed as social criticism.
Flaubert never married instead seeking long-lasting friendship and travel companions. He certainty didn't have this attitude when it came to his sex life however and enjoyed both male and female prostitutes which he was very open about in some of his travel writings. These exploits resulted in him contracting syphilis in Beirut and for most of his life he suffered from various vernerial diseases. Nice. It's just as well he didn't marry really as a case of the clap does not make a good wedding gift.
Flaubert died in 1880 at the age of 58 from a cerebral haemorrhage.
Well it'll be interesting to read a book which has a style which inspired future writers such as Kafka but it seems that Flaubert could certainly give Madame Bovary a run for her money in the naughty behaviour category.
Posted by Jess