I could not help but think of Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov as I read this book. If you are not interested in the work and the life of Gustav Flaubert I do not think you will enjoy this book. It is about a fictional doctor's obsessive interest in Gustav Flaubert, especially in a stuffed parrot he once owned. We go along as the retired doctor, a widower, visits France and goes to a number of places associated with Flaubert. The fun of the book is in the reflections of the doctor about Flaubert and his associates. The book just jumps right in and assumes you know who a lot of people in Flaubert's life are. There is a lot of preoccupation with the sex life of Flaubert in the book, including his life long fondness for brothels and prostitutes of both sexes. The doctor tells us several times of the Egyptian catamites Flaubert encountered , as if he wants to see if he can shock or offend us.
This novel is in part literary biography, even if a bit of an offbeat one, in part a reflection on France, modernism, and the role of writer in society. Most of what I know of the life of Gustav Flaubert comes from Flaubert: A Biography by Frederick Brown, a superb book. Nothing in Flaubert's Parrot jumped out at me as wrong.
During Irish Short Story Week Two, March 11 to July 1, I am still reading longer works of fiction, though less than normal and I will post on them as I finish and when I can I will try to relate the works to Irish Short Stories.
The relationship of Flaubert to the Irish Short Story is very clear and strong. Flaubert was the role model for countless writers and his influence is beyond measure.
This was my first Barnes book & bought solely on the title, loved the book.
While I can appreciate Flaubert's writing talents, I don't really have that much of an interest in his life. I do, however, really enjoyed Julian Barnes as an author and have been meaning to pick up "Sense of an Ending" for quite some time.
Well, I had absolutely no interest in Flaubert when I read this novel (since then I have read Madame Bovary but he's still not a writer who particularly interests me, only in a general way) but I absolutely loved it. I think what so appealed to me were the observations that were made about constructing a fiction, about the writing life, and about the strange relationship between creative work and reality. Reading your thoughts on this one has made me want to dash to the shelf for a re-read!
I read this a few years ago (I'm desperate to get around to re-reading it!) and loved it, too. I knew nothing about Flaubert (still don't know too much) and still enjoyed its uniqueness. Glad to hear you felt the same.
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