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10 - Flaubert

Lost Hopes and Empty Words

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2021

Jonathan Beecher
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Cruz
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Summary

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.

Type
Chapter
Information
Writers and Revolution
Intellectuals and the French Revolution of 1848
, pp. 365 - 404
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Flaubert
  • Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Book: Writers and Revolution
  • Online publication: 11 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108909792.012
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  • Flaubert
  • Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Book: Writers and Revolution
  • Online publication: 11 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108909792.012
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Flaubert
  • Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Book: Writers and Revolution
  • Online publication: 11 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108909792.012
Available formats
×