10 - Flaubert
Lost Hopes and Empty Words
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 March 2021
After an introductory discussion of Flaubert’s development as a writer and his direct experience (with Maxime Du Camp) of the February Revolution, this chapter focuses on his great novel, Sentimental Education. This novel is both the story of an unconsummated love affair and an account of the experience and imaginative life of the generation of young people who came to maturity around 1840 and whose lives were either broken or redirected by the revolution of 1848. Our analysis emphasizes the care taken by Flaubert to establish a counterpoint between the collapse of political ideals in 1848 and the collapse of the dreams of the individual characters. The novel is considered as a work of history and compared to the work of historians like Georges Duveau and Maurice Agulhon. A number of specific scenes and vignettes are discussed in an attempt to show how Flaubert brings the past to life. We conclude with a discussion of Bouvard and Pecuchet, which includes a chapter on the revolution of 1848 as it affected a village in Normandy. Though written in an overtly comic vein, this chapter reinforces the picture offered by Sentimental Education of history as ruled by elemental forces that overwhelm the plans of individuals.
- Writers and RevolutionIntellectuals and the French Revolution of 1848, pp. 365 - 404Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2021