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Sentimental Education

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Based on Flaubert’s own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Education was described by its author as “the moral history of the men of my generation.” It follows the amorous adventures of Frederic Moreau, a law student who, returning home to Normandy from Paris, notices Mme Arnoux, a slender, dark woman several years older than himself. It is the beginning of an infatuation that will last a lifetime. He befriends her husband, an influential businessman, and as their paths cross and re-cross over the years, Mme Arnoux remains the constant, unattainable love of Moreau’s life. Blending love story, historical authenticity, and satire, Sentimental Education is one of the great French novels of the nineteenth century.

460 pages, Paperback

First published April 15, 1869

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About the author

Gustave Flaubert

1,354 books3,411 followers
Gustave Flaubert is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He was born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, in the Haute-Normandie Region of France.

Flaubert's curious modes of composition favored and were emphasized by these peculiarities. He worked in sullen solitude, sometimes occupying a week in the completion of one page, never satisfied with what he had composed, violently tormenting his brain for the best turn of a phrase, the most absolutely final adjective. It cannot be said that his incessant labors were not rewarded. His private letters show that he was not one of those to whom easy and correct language is naturally given; he gained his extraordinary perfection with the unceasing sweat of his brow. One of the most severe of academic critics admits that in all his works, and in every page of his works, Flaubert may be considered a model of style.

That he was one of the greatest writers who ever lived in France is now commonly admitted, and his greatness principally depends upon the extraordinary vigour and exactitude of his style. Less perhaps than any other writer, not of France, but of modern Europe, Flaubert yields admission to the inexact, the abstract, the vaguely inapt expression which is the bane of ordinary methods of composition. He never allowed a cliché to pass him, never indulgently or wearily went on, leaving behind him a phrase which almost expressed his meaning. Being, as he is, a mixture in almost equal parts of the romanticist and the realist, the marvellous propriety of his style has been helpful to later writers of both schools, of every school. The absolute exactitude with which he adapts his expression to his purpose is seen in all parts of his work, but particularly in the portraits he draws of the figures in his principal romances. The degree and manner in which, since his death, the fame of Flaubert has extended, form an interesting chapter of literary history.

The publication of Madame Bovary in 1857 had been followed by more scandal than admiration; it was not understood at first that this novel was the beginning of something new, the scrupulously truthful portraiture of life. Gradually this aspect of his genius was accepted, and began to crowd out all others. At the time of his death he was famous as a realist, pure and simple. Under this aspect Flaubert exercised an extraordinary influence over Émile de Goncourt, Alphonse Daudet and Zola. But even after the decline of the realistic school Flaubert did not lose prestige; other facets of his genius caught the light. It has been perceived that he was not merely realistic, but real; that his clairvoyance was almost boundless; that he saw certain phenomena more clearly than the best of observers had done. Flaubert is a writer who must always appeal more to other authors than to the world at large, because the art of writing, the indefatigable pursuit of perfect expression, were always before him, and because he hated the lax felicities of improvisation as a disloyalty to the most sacred procedures of the literary artist.

He can be said to have made cynicism into an art-form, as evinced by this observation from 1846:

To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.

His Oeuvres Complètes (8 vols., 1885) were printed from the original manuscripts, and included, besides the works mentioned already, the two plays, Le Candidat and Le Château des avurs. Another edition (10 vols.) appeared in 1873–1885. Flaubert's correspondence with George Sand was published in 1884 with an introduction by Guy de Maupassant.

He has been admired or written about by almost every major literary personality of the 20th century, including philosophers such as Pierre Bourdieu. Georges Perec named Sentimental Education as one of his favou

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Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,215 reviews9,892 followers
January 16, 2016
This one is often described as “the novel to end all novels” and I understand why – when you are reading it you say to yourself very frequently “if this is what novels are like I am never going to read another one in my entire life”.

From about page 50 until when I stopped, I was having these strong bibliocidal fantasies. I thought – maybe I will leave this accidentally on the bus to work. But I forgot to forget it, like that country song. Then I thought – maybe a column of army ants will chomp it up so that not a shred remains. But army ants are never seen in Nottingham, only the friendly variety who bid you good day as they pass by. I tried to donate my copy to Oxfam but the shop assistant, having turned very pale when she saw the title, summoned up a courage I had not thought her to possess and said they could not accept that particular title. When I asked why she referred me to the Oxfam standard operating procedures, something about health and safety, which includes of course mental health. They had accepted copies of Sentimental Education in previous years but there had been some incidents and now all shops had been explicitly warned not to.

I see that many of my most respected GR friends hand out the big four and five stars to this novel and describe it as brilliantly comic. I was trembling in my boots until I found that none other than Henry James was on my side. Here is his considered opinion:

Here the form and method are the same as in "Madame Bovary"; the studied skill, the science, the accumulation of material, are even more striking; but the book is in a single word a dead one. "Madame Bovary" was spontaneous and sincere; but to read its successor is, to the finer sense, like masticating ashes and sawdust. L'Education Sentimentale is elaborately and massively dreary. That a novel should have a certain charm seems to us the most rudimentary of principles, and there is no more charm in this laborious monument to a treacherous ideal than there is interest in a heap of gravel.

However I did notice something what Henry James did not notice, and felt quite smug about that. It is this – that the main part of the plot of Sentimental Education is almost the same as the plot of Shampoo, the Warren Beattie movie from 1975, which I saw only last week so it was fresh in my memory. In Shampoo, hairdresser George’s former girlfriend Jackie now has a rich sugar daddy boyfriend Lester, whose wife Felicia is one of George’s best customers. Naturally George is shagging Felicia as it would seem unkind not to, and, because he keeps bumping into Jackie as they move in the same social circles, he realises he never wanted to break up with her so he starts shagging Jackie as well. Then comes the really shocking scene – Lester’s daughter who I guess is supposed to be around 16 or so comes on to George when he’s visiting Felicia. And she is played by none other than 19 year old Carrie Fisher, two years before Princess Leia. What a shock that was. So in Sentimental Education Frederic, the world’s most dreary young bachelor, wants to shag the wife of Monsieur Arnoux, a publisher. And eventually this guy introduces Frederic to his mistress Roseanne who he’s got fed up with, the idea being that Frederic will take her over, I suppose they used to do this in those days as they did not have Tinder. So Frederic is nearly shagging the guy’s wife and nearly shagging the guy’s mistress at the same time. Just like in Shampoo, except that George the hairdresser was a lot less dreary. Also in Shampoo and Sentimental Education there are these long long long boring party scenes where I think the effect is supposed to be scintillatingly socially satirical.

I did not notice any specific Star Wars connections in Sentimental Education, but neither did Henry James.

If I am ever taken hostage and this is the only reading material available in my rat infested dungeon then I will definitely finish this.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews46 followers
October 6, 2021
(Book 858 from 1001 books) - L'Éducation sentimentale = Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert

Sentimental Education is a novel by Gustave Flaubert.

Considered one of the most influential novels of the 19th century, it was praised by contemporaries such as George Sand and Emile Zola, but criticized by Henry James.

The story focuses on the romantic life of a young man at the time of the French Revolution of 1848.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پانزدهم ماه آوریل سال 2009میلادی

عنوان: تربیت احساسات؛ نویسنده: گوستاو فلوبر؛ مترجم: مهدی سحابی؛ تهران، نشر مرکز، 1380؛ در632ص؛ شابک9643056465؛ چاپ دوم سال1385؛ سوم و چهارم 1388؛ شابک9789643056469؛ پنجم 1389؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسه - سده 19م

عنوان: تربیت احساسات (مکتب عشق، یا سرگذشت یک جوان)؛ نویسنده: گوستاو فلوبر؛ مترجم: فروغ شهاب؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر، 1349؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1395، در بیست و241ص؛ شابک9786004360555؛

بر خلاف «مادام بوواری» که در زمان انتشار، بسیار دل انگیز و نامدار بود، بسیاری از هم‌دوره های «فلوبر»، «تربیت احساسات» را، شکستی ادبی دانستند، و اثر را از «دیدگاه اخلاقی» زننده؛ و از «دیدگاه سیاسی» کژاندیشانه، دانستند؛ این اثر سال‌ها در سایه ی درخشندگی «مادام بوواری» چشم به راه میماند، تا اینکه ناقدان آثار این دوران، ارزش ادبی «تربیت احساسات» را، دوباره پیدا میکنند؛ اثری احساسی و شخصی است، که در آن احساسات با شرح رویدادهای تاریخی، در هم می‌آمیزند، بازگشایی دلسردی‌هایی فردی، و نیز در واگویی یاس، و پژمردگی اجتماعی، در پی زوال توهم‌هایی که انگیزه ی تکانه های انقلاب بودند، نوشتارهای خیال بسیار درخشان هستند

شخصیت اصلی داستان، جوانی به نام «فردریک مورو» است، که در سفر خویش، با بانویی شوهردار به نام «ماری آنجل» آشنا، و دلباخته ی او میگردد؛ «فردریک» که ساکن شهری کوچک است؛ عمویی ثروتمند در «پاریس» دارد، و امیدوار هست تا از عمو به او ارث برسد؛ «فردریک» وارث ثروت عموی خویش شده، به «پاریس» میرود، و با خانواده ی «ماری آنجل» رفت و آمد میکند، و وارد زندگی «آنجل» میشود، اما از آنجایی که «ماری آنجل» زنی نجیب است؛ «فردریک» برای رسیدن به ایشان، شانسی ندارد، پس سرخورده از آن پیشامد، به سوی زنی بی بند و بار به نام «رزانت» کشیده میشود؛ «رزانت» زیباست و «فردریک» را دوست میدارد، و خواهان زندگی با اوست، اما «فردریک» نمیتواند «ماری آنجل» را فراموش کند، همچنین او کوشش دارد برای بدست آوردن ثروت، با بیوه ای «انگلیسی» پیمان ببندد، اما به یکباره، زمانی که متوجه میشود «ماری» پنهانی از آن شهر فرار کرده، و برای همیشه رفته است، او نیز هم «رزانت» و هم بیوه ی ثروتمند «انگلیسی» را رها میکند؛ سرانجام زمانی که «فردریک» به میانسالی میرسد؛ «ماری» به دیدن او میآید، و بگذشته ها را با هم مرور میکنند، و از او خداحافظی میکند؛ نویسنده در این کتاب در کنار عاشقانه ها، به رویدادهای تاریخی کشور فرانسه ی آن دوران و پژمردگیهای اجتماعی نیز میپردازند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 13/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
791 reviews
March 16, 2020
As the French President announces major Covid 19 restriction measures today, I was reminded of this book from a time when restrictions and curfews were the norm but for very different reasons...

L'éducation sentimentale is set in the 1840s, and the political upheavals of those years are referenced constantly—though they don't impinge as much as they might on the main character, Frédéric Moreau. Frédéric is a law student who'd like to be a writer, but he doesn't find it easy to study or write, so he leads the typical student life, sleeping, eating and drinking—and enjoying the cartoons in the Charivari newspaper: Frédéric avala un verre de rhum, puis un verre de kirsch, puis un verre de curaçao, puis différents grogs, tant froids que chauds. Il lut tout le journal, et le relut; il examina, jusque dans les grains du papier, la caricature du Charivari; à la fin, il savait par coeur les annonces.

But while Frédéric spends time examining every detail of the cartoons and the advertisments in the Charivari, his friends are variously involved in preparing the revolt which will eventually depose King Louis Philippe in 1848. Frédéric is not a revolutionary himself, in fact he's not sure what he is yet. His male friends don't know either and they constantly pull him in different directions in an effort to find out.

Fréderic has women friends too, and one of them sounds a lot like Madame Bovary, from the top of her dark tresses which 'lovingly framed her ovale face’ to the toe of her little boot. This Madame Bovary look-alike is called Madame Arnoux, and she gradually becomes the key love interest in Fréderic’s life, though she keeps herself in the background of the story. And although she's a very faithful spouse to M. Arnoux, she reminded me of Emma Bovary every time she swayed into a scene, especially when it was a question of her 'bottines'; Flaubert and Frédéric seem to have a thing about slim leather-clad feet peeping out from underneath the vastness of a crinoline. And since Frédéric had been studying the caricatures in the Charivari so closely, I began studying them too, especially the ones by Honoré Daumier, and stumbled on many parallels between Flaubert’s scenarios and Daumier's sketches.

When Frédéric accompanies Madame Arnoux on her shopping trips, it’s hard not to imagine the scene like this, especially since Frédéric is such a very flexible character:

(The text underneath Daumier's sketch says that since women now wear skirts made of steel, men would need to be made of rubber to give them their arm in the street!)

Daumier intends to be funny of course, and you might argue that Flaubert is being serious much of the time. But even when Flaubert is describing something potentially sedate or serious, he makes me laugh. So when I came on this description of the kind of elaborate curtsies people make in polite society, I couldn't help matching the passage with another Daumier cartoon: Les invités arrivaient; en manière de salut, ils jetaient leur torse de côté, ou se courbaient en deux, ou baissaient la figure seulement

Sometimes, I was convinced that Flaubert himself had been studying Daumier's cartoons before writing certain scenes because they just match together so well. One of Frédéric's least bright friends tries his hand at a witty remark about a French writer called La Bruyère, known for his book 'Les Caractères', while passing a plate of grouse (coq de bruyère) to his friends at table: il tenta même un calembour, car il dit, comme on passait un coq de bruyère, "Voilà le meilleur des caractères de bruyère"!
And of course, Daumier just happens to have a witty cartoon about a grouse too:

At the same dinner, the Wit insults one of Frédéric's women friends, and next thing he knows, Frédéric is involved in a duel—one of the funniest scenes in the book. As the duel is about to begin, someone runs up to shout stop, and the Wit, thinking it’s the police, faints in fear and scratches his thumb whereupon the duel is abandoned because blood has been spilled.
Has Daumier such a scene? But of course!

The more I looked for correspondences between Flaubert's and Daumier's scenes, the more I found. Take this one for example, where Fréderic spots a crowd in front of a painting of a young woman he has become slightly involved with and discovers that the painting has his own name under it, F Moreau—as the owner, of both the painting and the lady, it is implied! And he's not even Rosanette's lover as yet! Complications seem to follow him about!
Daumier just happens to have a drawing of some people in front of a painting of a young woman too - and the name ‘Moreau’ is associated with it:

But it's Gustave Moreau’s Sphinx,
about which the pair in the cartoon are having a conversation: "Un chat décolleté avec une tête de femme, ça s'appelle donc un Sphinx?" "Certainement…en grec!" ("So a bare-breasted cat with a woman's head is called a Sphinx?" asks the man with the catalogue. "Certainly," says the woman, "- in Greek!" (clearly she doesn't want to think such creatures can exist in French))

Meantime, in spite of his complicated love life, Frédéric continues to sit over the dinner table discussing the state of the nation with some smug characters: Cependant, objecta M, la misère existe, avouons-le! Mais le remède ne dépend ni de la Science ni du Pouvoir. C'est une question purement individuelle. Quand les basses classes voudront se débarrasser de leurs vices, elles s'affranchiront de leurs besoins. Que le peuple soit plus moral, et il sera moins pauvre!
Daumier was obviously at the same dinner!

The summer of 1848 arrives, and Frédéric hasn't passed his bar exams, he hasn't written the book he planned to write, and he hasn't got involved in the Reform movement. One of his friends turns up with the news that the time has finally come to remove King Louis Philippe from power, and he strongly urges Frédéric to join the fight to topple the 'poire': Mon vieux, La poire est mûre. Selon ta promesse, nous comptons sur toi. On se réunit demain au petit jour, place du Panthéon. Entre au café Soufflot. Il faut que je te parle avant la manifestation.
Daumier has some great caricatures of Louis Philippe as the 'poire', ripe for harvesting:

So Paris is in uproar and people are on the barricades:

But where is Frédéric? Did he answer the call?
Hmm, he has his own way of addressing Reform. He decides to stop shilly-shallying and to finally sleep with Rosanette (his passion for Mme Arnoux being still unconsummated): Mille pardons ! » dit Frédéric, en lui saisissant la taille dans les deux mains. -« Comment ? que fais-tu ?» balbutia Rosanette. Il répondit : -« Je suis la mode, je me réforme. » Elle se laissa renverser sur le divan, et continuait à rire sous ses baisers.

Later Frédéric's conscience wakes up and he becomes concerned for his comrades. He searches for them in the Palace which the People have invaded, and comes on a crazy scene in which a group of people try out the throne for size:
ils arrivèrent dans la salle des Maréchaux. Les portraits de ces illustres, sauf celui de Bugeaud percé au ventre, étaient tous intacts..Sur le trône était assis un prolétaire à barbe noire, la chemise entrouverte, l'air hilare et stupide comme un magot. D'autres gravissaient l'estrade pour s'asseoir à sa place.

Then for twenty pages, while Paris rumbles explosively, Flaubert sends Fréderic and Rosanette on a sightseeing holiday to Fontainebleau, visiting the Chateau which was the country residence of many former kings—like the most carefree of tourists (allowing Flaubert to offer us fine descriptive passages), while back in Paris, the world as they knew it is balancing on the tip of a bayonet.

But of course Flaubert isn’t ignoring the troubles in Paris at all, just showing us how good he is at metaphor : des chênes rugueux, énormes, qui se convulsaient..s'étreignaient les uns les autres, et fermes sur leurs troncs, pareils à des torses, se lançaient avec leurs bras nus des appels de désespoir, des menaces furibondes..immobilisés dans leur colère
While reading that description of an oak wood near the Chateau, in which the enormous trees surge and sway like a seething mass of angry beings, we can’t but think immediately of the confrontations between the people and the monarchy during the uprisings, as in this sketch by Daumier of the Peasant’s Revolt:

A little further on, Flaubert describes a granite quarry in terms that make it resemble a long-forgotten ruined city, a Sodom and Gomorrah:
Un bruit de fer, des coups drus et nombreux sonnaient: c'était, au flanc d'une colline, une compagnie de carriers battant les roches. Elles se multipliaient de plus en plus, et finissaient par emplir tout le paysage, cubiques comme des maisons, plates comme des dalles, s'étayant, se surplombant, se confondant, telles que les ruines méconnaissables et monstrueuses de quelque cité disparue
Daumier has just such a scene, which he calls Paris in Revolt or Sodom and Gomorrah:

Frédéric eventually returns to the city, and the city eventually returns to a semblance of order, though no political group gets quite what they sought, and crazy compromises are made, with bankers getting into bed with socialists. Frédéric’s life is equally complicated. He's involved with four different women so he has to make constant compromises. One compromise he's faced with is marrying a rich widow: Frédéric baissait la voix, en se penchant vers son visage..Mme D ferma les yeux, et il fut surpris par la facilité de sa victoire. Les grands arbres du jardin qui frissonnaient mollement s'arrêtèrent...et il y eut comme une suspension universelle des choses.

But similarly to the political scene where temporary allies were constantly breaking their promises and betraying one another, and betraying the spirit of Liberty at the same time, Fredéric finds himself breaking his promises and betraying all the women in his life: Bientôt ces mensonges le divertirent; il répétait à l'une le serment qu'il venait de faire à l'autre, leur envoyait deux bouquets semblables, leur écrivait en même temps, puis établissait entre elles des comparaisons; - il y en avait une troisième toujours présente à sa pensée…

And just as you might be tempted to wonder what had become of the spirit of Liberty in the Paris of the day, you might also wonder what had become of Frédéric’s first love, Mme Arnoux. Well, like Liberty, she does turn up—when least expected:

The Reform movements may not welcome the ghost of Liberty, but Frédéric is glad to see Mme Arnoux, though she's a bit of a ghost of her former self. Still, their meeting towards the end of the book provides a sweet scene in which the two finally admit their deep love for each other:
elle lui dit «Quelquefois, vos paroles me reviennent comme un écho lointain, comme le son d'une cloche apporté par le vent; et il me semble que vous êtes là, quand je lis des passages d'amour dans les livres.»
«Tout ce qu'on y blâme d'exagéré, vous me l'avez fait ressentir», dit Frédéric. «Je comprends Werther, que ne dégoûtent pas les tartines de Charlotte».

In a scene which starts out very movingly, Frédéric somehow ends up drawing a parallel between his love for Mme Arnoux and the ridiculous quantities of bread and jam that Werther’s great love Charlotte was constantly preparing for her little brothers and sisters, which convinces me that Flaubert was always ready to see the ridiculous side of life, and that he shared Daumier’s view, as demonstrated in this cartoon, that life, love and lunacy might be more closely linked than we admit:

According to Flaubert's account, it did seem as if a lot of time was spent howling at the moon during those decades!

I’m hoping that Flaubert’s sense of fun would have prevented him from objecting to me using illustrations in this review—though he never allowed any of his books to be illustrated in his lifetime...
Profile Image for Luís.
1,943 reviews608 followers
August 18, 2023
Flaubert said of "L'Education Sentimentale": "I want to write the moral history of the men of my generation; "sentimental" would be more accurate. It is a book of love, of passion; but of desire such as 'it can exist, i.e. inactive ". I find that this paragraph perfectly illustrates the book's idea, namely that Flaubert offers us a book of Passions through this story, and who says Passions also says Suffering.

Indeed, the author sets up a wide range of characters, each more passionate than the other, and this by their actions or their ambitions: whether it is the fiery and sublime Passion between Frédéric Moreau and Mme Arnoux - but also carnal love with Rosanette, or interested with Mme Dambreuse, which nonetheless both remain passionate loves -, or that of Deslauriers for his career and glory, that of Arnoux for Money and Beauty, that of Pilgrim for Art.
But, like the silent and impossible love between the hero and Madame Arnoux, we see that each individual's search for the ideal and happiness is in vain. Moreover, in the novel's last pages, Frédéric and Deslauriers dwell on their past and note their failure: "And they summed up their life. They both missed it, the one who had dreamed of love [ Frédéric], the one who dreamed of power [Deslauriers]."

Not having heard, a priori, that novel's praise by Flaubert, I opened this book with many apprehensions and the fear of being bored during this reading. But it does not. Is nothing in the end! Of course, there are many lengths, but I enjoyed this read despite that. Fans of Flaubert's style will certainly not be disappointed by "L 'Éducation Sentimentale."
Profile Image for Alex.
1,419 reviews4,486 followers
October 6, 2021
A "sentimental education" means your first love, and if Frédéric’s not careful he isn’t going to learn shit from it. He’s an aimless, pointless little man, slowly failing to do anything whatsoever with his life. He’s in love with his friend’s wife, and you sortof wish they'd bang just so we'd all have something to watch.

“The story or the plot of a novel is quite indifferent to me,” though, Flaubert said. He wanted real life! He’s the champion of realism, the late 1800s movement away from moral lessons and towards the real world. It’s brilliant in Madame Bovary, his first novel. By the time he finished Sentimental Education 12 years later in 1862 he seems to have remembered something crucial about the real world: its plot is a fucking mess.

Frédéric hems and haws about Madame Arnoux, while having affairs with a trio of other women: a courtesan, the girl next door, a different friend’s wife. They have varying levels of intensity and consummation, from one to….maybe six? Frédéric doesn’t go all the way to ten. Will he get anything going with Madame Arnoux? Certainly not if he’s the one who has to do it. He can’t even get a job.

You hear “merciless” about Flaubert a lot, and I appreciate the mercilessness of this picture. There are a lot of dudes like Frédéric in the world, these Cabbage Patch AirPod holders, and Flaubert’s not going to let any of them get away with it.

But this is a book Henry James thought was boring. Called it “a curiosity for a literary museum.” Let that sink in for a minute, right? Henry James! If you're boring Henry James, you have a real problem. I couldn’t keep any of the male characters straight. The character arc is more like dropped spaghetti. And when Flaubert decided to write about the real world, he meant the real world, like not just what actually happens but what actually happened, and that means you’re getting the intricate details of the Insurrection of June 1848, which isn’t even France’s best revolution.

This isn’t France’s best novel about idle rich idiots fucking each other’s spouses, either. That’s Dangerous Liaisons by a mile. This one has its moments, but mostly it feels as aimless as Frédéric. As aimless as real life, even, and if I wanted that I wouldn’t be reading a book, would I?
Profile Image for William2.
758 reviews3,078 followers
June 26, 2022

1. A beautiful book. Highly readable and gratifying. Too much description, but that was a convention of Flaubert’s day. The book is full of history, the abortive Revolution of 1848, the rise and fall of the French Second Republic and so on. The story of Frederic Moreau himself is the faux-biographical thread that ties it all together.

2. The Alhambra sequence here is reminiscent in the phantasmagoric “Nighttown” chapter in Ulysses. James Joyce knew Sentimental Education well. A later costume ball echoes the Alhambra scene, and it’s just as wild, just as frenetic. In other ways, in how it deals with the tribulations of Frederic’s desire, the book reminds me of Knut Hamsun’s Pan. At one point he’s running between three women — not unlike the protagonist of Isaac Bashevis Singer‘s Enemies: A Love Story. Love is mad.

3. Frederic Moreau has been pining away for years for Madame Arnoux, the wife of a wealthy gallerist. He earns his law license but after five years gives up. He admits that Madame Arnoux is unattainable. Much disappointment arises from his low income. He cannot remain on the same playing field as the Arnouxs if he is poor. He moves back to his mother’s house in the provinces. He takes walks with a four-year-old girl. His hygiene starts to go. He loses touch with his Paris friends, especially Deslauriers, with whom he had shared boyhood dreams. But then, when all hope is lost, he receives an enormous inheritance from his sourpuss uncle. Everything changes, so he feels.

Yet Madame Arnoux is out of his reach. She’s a good woman. He’ll never have her. He presses on making strange plans to further ingratiate himself and make him look even more pathetic. M. Arnoux starts borrowing money from Frederic. Strangely, our hero traipses about with the husband, the man he’s trying to cuckold, and is a witness to some of his extramarital affairs. Meanwhile Frederic remains a virgin. They’re being nothing to indicate he’s ever had a woman. Interestingly other characters can claim relationships with available women.

4. This novel uses Paris in the same way Woody Allen uses New York in his films. Here’s one colorful passage. It occurs when Frederic, flush with his legacy, is returning to Paris impatient to see Madame Arnoux.

“They stopped a good while at the city gate, for it was blocked by poultry-farmers, carriers, and a flock of sheep. The sentry, his hood thrown back, walked up and down in front of his box to keep warm. The toll-clerk clambered on to the top of the coach, and a fanfare on a coronet rang out. They went down the boulevard at a brisk trot with swingle-bars rattling and traces flying. The thong of the long whip crackled in the damp air. The guard gave his ringing shout: ‘Look sharp there! Hullo!’ And crossing-sweepers stood aside, passersby jumped out of the way, and mud splashed against the windows. They passed wagons, carriages, and omnibuses, and finally reached the iron gate of the Jardin des Plantes.” (p. 115)

When Frederic returns to Paris he finds the Arnouxs in reduced circumstances. All the luxury and grandeur have gone. The husband‘s gallery has failed and he now lives with his family above his pottery shop; this as opposed to his former gallery “just beyond the rue Monmartre,” the family home in rue de Choiseul, and the country place in Saint-Cloud. Madame Arnoux is dressed with a simplicity Frederic has never seen before.

5. At times Flaubert’s description becomes cloying in its excess; a writer today could suffice with ten percent of it, if that. These descriptive flights are the only bits where one feels oneself slogging through.

6. This novel was published in 1869 and one thing is clear, capitalism has not changed, except perhaps in the variety of its cons. Frederic’s position in uneasy; he is at heart not social, and yet he is condemned to negotiate so-called high society. He’s such a timid little man. Everyone’s robbing him blind. When failed bomber Sénécal is released from Sainte-Pélagie for lack of evidence, Dusardiers gives a party in his flat to celebrate; it’s here that Flaubert eviscerates the socialist, ostensibly pro-Republic, mindset. The monarchists don’t come out much better; everyone gets it in the neck.

So eventually, at a restaurant, Madame Armoux’s honor is besmirched; Frederick throws a plate at Viscount Cisy, the besmircher, and a particularly hilarious duel ensues in the Bois de Boulogne. The duel is called with off when Cisy faints under pressure and accidentally cuts himself with the knife with which he was to have fought Frederic. Too funny. When Madame Arnoux learns about the duel she realizes she loves Frederic. They then enter upon a difficult platonic friendship; difficult because of their physical lust for each other. And who hasn’t at some time in life been in such a fix, forswearing sex for friendship? It’s utter torture.

7. It’s impressive how adroitly Flaubert incorporates the 1848 Revolution — also known as the February Revolution it ended the July Monarchy and led to the brief French Second Republic — into the narrative. It corroborates for the most part what I had recently read in Pages from the Goncourt Journals. The revolution begins, however, on the very day Frederic was to have taken Madame Arnoux to a love nest he had designed presumptuously without her consent. She never shows. Frederic is humiliated and angry. In something like retaliation he picks up the Marshall, a prostitute, and takes her to the love nest prepared for Madam Arnoux. This is Frederic’s first sexual experience; he is 28 or 29.

8. We watch Frederic enter the Imperial palace as it’s vandalized by the “common people.” Frederic is encouraged to stand for office by M. Dambreuse, an arch monarchist who hopes to control him in that role. Frederic prepares a speech and goes to deliver it at a ribald meeting. He steps up to speak and is called an aristocrat by his erstwhile friend, Sénécal, a sociopathic “revolutionary” who has him booed into the street. It’s hard to know what the gathering’s true purpose is since it’s such a zoo. For example, before Frederic is sent away, “A man in a cassock, with crinkly hair and a peevish expression, had already put up his hand. He mumbled that his name was Ducretot, and that he was a priest and an agronomist, the author of a work entitled Manure. He was advised to join a horticultural society.” (p. 329)

9. The street names and place names and palace names of Flaubert‘s day have for the most part not changed and can be easily looked up, but then many nineteeth century books are “illustrated” for us in this way.

10. The coda is lovely.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book935 followers
December 18, 2022
Si Emma Bovary était une version féminine et romantique de Don Quichotte, Frédéric Moreau est peut-être une version juvénile, idéaliste et velléitaire de Don Juan. En tout cas, c’est l’un des personnages les plus fascinants de la littérature française ; à la fois portrait semi-autobiographique du jeune Flaubert, amoureux d’Élisa Schlésinger, et dans la lignée d’autres personnages fascinés par l’amour et l’ambition (signes extérieurs de la réussite) : avant lui, Julien Sorel, Rastignac ; après lui, le jeune Marcel de la Recherche.

Voilà donc un provincial qui « monte » à la capitale pour y faire carrière ; et sur le bateau entre Nogent et Paris, il a le typique coup de foudre romantique pour une inconnue, dont la pensée quasi-fétichiste ne le quittera plus par la suite : Marie Arnoux. Dès ce moment, la vie de Frédéric gravite autour d’elle, au travers d’innombrables noces, revers et vicissitudes, en ce mouvement de chute libre tourbillonnante qui ne parvient jamais au but ; et malgré ou à cause de cela, Frédéric deviendra aussi un coureur de jupons invétéré et sans scrupules (Mme Dambreuse, Louise Roque, la Maréchale, la Vatnaz…). Mais qu’importe ces badineries passagères, si cela lui permet d’avancer sa carrière ou gagner de l’argent, puisque c’est l’inaccessible Madame Arnoux qu’il aime et aimera toujours… Le lecteur d’appréciera.

En effet, comme Flaubert le désirait, L’Éducation sentimentale est un faux Bildungsroman, « un livre sur rien », un récit sans climax, ou les entreprises échouent, les paroles tombent à plat, les amours avortent, les duels ne tuent pas, les rendez-vous n’aboutissent pas, les révolutions ratent, les projets s’enlisent, les aventures font fiasco. Et pourtant, dans ce roman, que d’événements, que de personnages, que de rencontres, que d’angoisses, que d’espoirs et que de contrariétés, quelle foultitude de détails anodins de toute sorte ! C’est sans doute l’un des livres les plus ambitieux et les plus denses du post-romantisme français.

Car il s’agit avant tout, pour Flaubert, de peindre une époque, établir « l’histoire morale des hommes de ma génération », c’est-à-dire des hommes qui ont cru aussi bien à l’amour romantique qu’à l’idéal socialiste. La monarchie de Juillet et les soulèvements populaires de 1848, summum des turpitudes bourgeoises et de la stupidité populaire, briseront tous ces idéaux. Et lorsque Flaubert écrit L’Éducation, l’ironie acerbe de sa plume, ses assauts contre la médiocrité et la langue de bois, expriment le désenchantement de l’après coup. Au fond, cette éducation sentimentale de Frédéric Moreau, tout comme l’intoxication romantique d’Emma Bovary, n’est qu’un apprentissage semi-livresque et languissant qui n’aboutit à rien ; et ce « livre sur rien » est en fait un livre ou tout, le romantisme amoureux comme les turbulences de l’histoire, sont tournés en dérision.

Ce qui reste de tout cela, le cœur du roman, c’est sans aucun doute la langue de Flaubert, ses peintures, ses mélodies et ses tempos, les détails qui tuent, les juxtapositions de scènes sans solution de continuité, les ellipses qui sautent par-dessus les époques, les arrêts sur image où se déploient le chatoiement d’une fête, la succulence d’un banquet, la frénésie d’une émeute, la contemplation d’un paysage de campagne, l’éblouissement d’un regard, Paris. Et puis cette fin pathétique, à la fois risible et déchirante... Bref, L’Éducation sentimentale est avant toute autre chose une extase esthétique, l’idéal transmuté ; et Flaubert se trahit à nouveau comme le vieux romantique « encrouté » et sublime qu’il n’a jamais cessé d’être.

Comme souvent, lu en binôme avec Michelle. Qu’elle en soit remerciée.
Profile Image for ZaRi.
2,321 reviews771 followers
September 16, 2015
فلوبر در یک نامه در 1852 به لوییز کوله می نویسد:

"دوست دارم کتابي بنويسم درباره هيچ، کتابي که بر هيچ چيز بيروني که خارج از خود باشد دلالت نکند، کتابي که بتواند به نيروي دروني سبکش، روي پاي خودش بايستد، درست بدان گونه که کره زمين بي هيچ تکيه گاهي خود را در فضا نگاه دارد... کتابی بی‌هیچ وابستگی به دنیای بیرون، کتابی که به یمن نیروی درونی سبکش، قائم به ذات باشد، همچنان که زمین خود را در خلاء فضا نگه می‌دارد و از هر پایه‌ای بی‌نیاز است، کتابی که کم‌وبیش هیچ موضوعی ندارد، یا دست‌کم موضوع آن نادیدنی است، البته اگر چنین چیزی ممکن باشد...هم از اين رو است که مي گوييم نه موضوع خوب وجود دارد و نه موضوع بد.» «ديگري» يا همان «تکيه گاه» مساله اخلاق است. «اخلاقي» زندگي کردن يعني زندگي مطابق معياري که «ديگري» تعيين مي کند. اين «ديگري» مي تواند ايده ها، اسطوره ها، باورها، جامعه يا حتي منافع معين يک طبقه و... باشد. علاوه بر آن در اخلاق «خوب» يا «بد» يا به عبارت دقيق تر خير و شر وجود دارد و نه برحسب آنچه فرد را خوش آيد يا خوش نيايد. ولي من مي خواهم کتابي بنويسم درباره هيچ که بدون هيچ گونه تکيه گاهي خود را در فضا نگاه دارد، يعني به خود و باورهاي خود و نيروي دروني اش(و نه ديگري) متکي باشد. بنابراين من پيشاپيش قصد نوشتن کتابي را کرده ام که مطابق تعريف گفته شده نمي تواند اخلاقي باشد زيرا به «خود» متکي است و هم از اين رو است که خود نيز بر اين مساله صحه مي گذارم که نه موضوع خوبي وجود دارد و نه موضوع بدي. کل ادبياتي که حاوي درس اخلاقي است، ذاتاً و اساساً کاذب است، از همان لحظه يي که اثبات مي کني، دروغ مي گويي. اول و آخر را خدا مي داند، انسان از وسط خبر دارد هنر مثل خدا بايد در بيکران معلق باشد، در خود کامل باشد، مستقل از خالقش باشد."
هر چند هنگام نوشتن این نامه،فلوبر سرگرم نگارش مادام بوواری بوده ، اما به نظر می‌رسد که در نهایت در "تربیت احساسات" است که تا اندازه به این خواسته‌ خود می رسد و یک رمان مینویسد که می توان گفت موضوع ندارد، یا البته درست تر است که بگویم یک رمان نوشته که موضوع آن نادیدنیست. در مادام بوواری آنچنان که یوسا در عیش مدام می نویسد موضوع کتاب بسیار روشناست. اما فلوبر در تربیت احساسات موفق می‌شود تا در نهایت یک موضوع را بهانه‌ چیزی بکند که در واقع می‌خواهد درباره‌ آن حرف بزند. در مادام بوواری، "اما بوواری" کاراکتر اصلی داستان است و تمام اتفاقها و حادثه ها و حتا تفسیرها ، ارتباط با او می‌شود و به او باز می گردد، اما در تربیت احساسات اینچنین نیست، چرا که "فردریک مورو" هراندازه هم که کاراکتر اصلی داستان باشد، به هیچ وجه آن جایگاه را ندارد که "اما " در مادام بوواری دارد. درواقع "فردریک مورو" بیشتر یک بهانه‌ است برای مشاهده‌ اتفاقها و جریانهایی که در حاشیه‌ زندگی فردریک در جریان هست در حالی که در مادام بوواری هر آنچه که اتفاق می‌افتد پیرامون کاراکتر اصلی هست و به او باز می‌گردد. بنابراین می توان گفت در تربیت احساسات هست که فلوبر موفق می‌شود برای اولین دفعه موضوع اصلی خود را به شیوه جدید روایت کند، آن را در میان کاراکتر فردریک مورو پنهان کند و در نهایت آنچنان که خود می گوید،یک رمان بنویسد که "قائم به ذات" باشد.
"تربیت احساساتی" یا آنچنان که "مهدی سحابی" آنرا "تربیت احساسات" به فارسی برگردان کرده ، داستان "تربیت سانتی‌مانتال" یا "تربیت احساساتی" نسل و جامعه‌ از فرانسه را نشان می‌دهد که خواسته‌ها و ا��داف راستین خود را فراموش کرده و درگیر احساسات خود شده و چشمان خود را بر واقعیت کشور خود بسته است.
تربیت احساسات داستان زندگی "فردریک مورو" یک جوان احساساتی ‌هست که به طور اتفاق با خانواده‌ آقای "ژاک آرنو" آشنا می‌شود و دلباخته خانم آرنو می شود. "فردریک" که در ابتدای رمان یک جوان بامصمم، با اراده و با آرزوهای بزرگ تصویر شده است، کم‌کم از خواسته‌های خود دست می‌کشد و درگیر ماجراها و احساست که با خانم آرنو دارد، تمام آن‌ها را فراموش می‌کند. در نهایت،‌ فردریک که پیش از این به تحصیلات دانشگاهی‌ خود در رشته‌ حقوق و همچنین نویسندگی علاقه‌ی زیادی داشته است و حتا همیشه می‌خواسته و��یر بشود، به هیچ‌کدام از آرزوها و خواسته‌های گذشته‌ خود نمی‌رسد و زندگی‌ او تمام در راه احساسات می رود. در همان حال، یعنی در همان‌ سال‌هایی که فردریک درگیر احساسات با ا خانم آرنو است، فرانسه تحولات و تغییرات سیاسی و اجتماعی مهمی را پشت سر می‌گذارد اما فردریک که به‌ دلیل درگیری احساسی‌ خود از تمام این جریانها به‌دور است، تنها مشاهده کننده آن‌ها هست و هیچ دخالت در سونوشت سیاسی و اجتماعی کشور خود ندارد. فرانسه در سال‌هایی که بخش بیشتری از تربیت احساسات در آن سال‌ها روایت می‌شود، در گیر جنبش‌ها و شورش‌های انقلابی هست. انقلاب ۱۸۴۸ فرانسه در همین موقع اتفاق می شود و در این میان شورش‌های زیاد در پاریس در جریان است و در نهایت پادشاهی لویی فیلیپ پایان می‌شود و "جمهوری دوم" فرانسه برقرار می‌شود.

"امیل زولا" در باره این رمان گفته است :" تمامی آثار قبل و بعد از این رمان دربرابر واقعیت گرایی آن ، بیش از یک اپرای تراژیک نیست !"
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
January 16, 2016
L'Education Sentimentale is well known to be one of Woody Allen's favourite books, and it explores one of Allen's favourite themes. Whether life is a tragedy or a comedy depends on hair-fine nuances. Melinda and Melinda is probably the clearest example: the perspective constantly, and rather confusingly, shifts back and forward between comedy and tragedy. A bit later, he redid the idea in a more convincing way, as the linked pair Match Point (the tragedy) and Scoop (the comedy).

In the same spirit, here's a linked pair of reviews. I wrote the tragic one first, but then felt that I really needed to balance it with a comic version.


Tragic review

O Hamlet, speak no more:
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.
I'm afraid it's not exactly a fun beach read. If L'Education Sentimentale doesn't make you feel uneasy, you're either a remarkably secure person or you decided to quit before reaching the end. And Flaubert does a good job of sneaking up on you: for the first hundred pages or so, I felt it was one of those books where nothing was going to happen, and it wasn't until I was about halfway through that I really began to feel disquieted. He's good.

On the surface, it's unremarkable, except for the lovely prose. Frédéric is a stupid and shallow young man in 1840s France. After a chance meeting on a boat, he conceives a passion for Mme. Arnoux, a beautiful married woman. He manages to insinuate himself into her husband's social circle, and becomes friendly with him. After a while, M. Arnoux trusts young Frédéric enough that he introduces him to his mistress, the charming and scatterbrained Roseanette. Frédéric falls for her too, and then his romantic life becomes even more complicated. I'll try to avoid dropping any more spoilers, but I thought I should convince you that it's definitely not a book where nothing happens: as in Madame Bovary and Salammbô, there's ample sex and violence.

So, why's it so disquieting? One way to explain is to compare with two other novels, which were written not long after and certainly, at least in part, were inspired by it. In Proust's Le Côté de Guermantes, Marcel becomes as obsessed with the Duchesse de Guermantes as Frédéric does with Mme. Arnoux, but by the end of the novel he's got over her; we get a detailed account of how her charm gradually fades away, so that he can finally see her objectively. It's disappointing, but extremely rational. And in Maupassant's Bel-Ami, Georges Duroy cleverly exploits his series of mistresses to become rich and successful; this time, you're shocked at how cold-blooded he is, but it's also rational.

I thought at several points that Frédéric was going to take one of these paths; he doesn't. The novel's extraordinary strength is to get inside his mind as he dithers between the various women he's involved with, and demonstrate how he simply isn't capable of any kind of rational thought whatsoever. He's with X, and Flaubert shows with his usual exactitude how blissfully in love he is with her. Then, a few pages later, he's with Y, and his protestations of eternal devotion don't come across as hypocritical: much worse, they're sincere! And, in the next chapter, with Z... well, you get the picture. It's horrifyingly well done.

In the middle of all this, the Revolution of 1848 breaks out. (By the way: if you're as ignorant about French history as I am, I strongly recommend getting an annotated edition. Flaubert assumes you know the story already, and keeps referring to people and events I'd never heard of - I was flipping to the endnotes like I was reading Infinite Jest). I did wonder for a moment what the politics had to do with the main story; alas, that rapidly becomes clear too. Like the eponymous hero of the Rabbit series, Frédéric is constitutionally incapable of seeing past the end of his own dick. The fact that France has been given a once-in-a-century chance to establish a fairer and more democratic government completely escapes him. There is a magnificent sequence where a major event has occurred, and people are shooting at each other in the streets; all Frédéric can think about is the fact that he's missed an important date with one of his loved ones. I was strongly reminded of the scene near the beginning of Shaun of the Dead, where Shaun, who's just been dumped by his girlfriend, stumbles home in a daze while somehow managing not to notice that London is being invaded by flesh-eating zombies.

You will gather that L'Education Sentimentale does not present a positive and uplifting view of human nature. If only it were ugly or hastily written, one could dismiss it. But no: as always with Flaubert, it's meticulously crafted and a delight to read. A lot of the time, it's even funny. You may occasionally want to fling it across the room; more often, you're going to react with a wry smile. He's witty and entertaining.

I started with a quote from Hamlet, arguably one of the book's ancestors, and I'll conclude with one from Cat's Cradle, probably a great-grandson, and also a very funny book. Here's Kurt Vonnegut on the same subject.
And I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled 'What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experiences of the Past Million Years?'

It doesn't take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.

This is it:



Comic review

["Sex and the City" theme tune. CARRIE is lying across her bed typing industriously on her laptop]

CARRIE: [voiceover] I read that over 60% of all American men cheat on their partners. That's a lot of cheating. It's happened to me. It's happened to my best friends. It may have happened to you. And, the other day, I started wondering [the title comes up as she speaks the words] When Men Cheat On Their Partners, What Are They Really Thinking?

[Dissolve to a trendy Manhattan restaurant. CARRIE is sitting alone at a table set for four people, reading a paperback novel. Camera zooms in to show the title, "Sentimental Education"]

CARRIE: [turns a page, and shakes her head reflectively] Jeez!

[CARRIE is so engrossed that she doesn't notice that CHARLOTTE, SAMANTHA and MIRANDA have arrived, and are looking at her curiously.]

CHARLOTTE: Good, isn't it?

CARRIE: [starts violently] Uh... yes! So you've read it too? Don't tell me how it ends...

SAMANTHA: [checking to see how far CARRIE has got] Oh, you're nearly finished. You know, this reminds me of something that happened to Charlotte and me a few years ago. [She gives CHARLOTTE a teasing look] You don't mind?


CARRIE: [voiceover] Charlotte did mind, but Samantha steamrollered her.

SAMANTHA: [steamrollering her] Come on, babe, all ancient history now! But we need some cocktails first. [To waiter] Four Cosmopolitans!

CARRIE: [voiceover] This was during Charlotte's first marriage, a period she doesn't like to talk about. Her husband Jack was a lot older than her.

[Montage. CHARLOTTE'S FIRST HUSBAND evidently doesn't take her seriously.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Samantha hadn't yet discovered she had a talent for PR. She was wondering if she would make it as an actress.

[Montage. SAMANTHA's movie roles don't require her to wear much.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Samantha was also a close friend of Jack.

[Montage. JACK and SAMANTHA are having noisy sex. Dissolve back to restaurant.]

SAMANTHA: [smiles and pats CHARLOTTE on the arm] Of course, Charlotte and I didn't know each other yet.

CARRIE: [voiceover] Now Jack ran this publishing company. He had a cute intern called Fred. One day, Fred met Charlotte.

[Dissolve back to the past. Montage. FRED, very young and innocent, meets CHARLOTTE. He's obviously smitten.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred had never seen anyone so beautiful in his life. He immediately knew he could never love another woman. But how could he meet her again?

[FRED looks sad and pensive, then suddenly brightens up.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred needed to get friendly with Jack.

[Montage. JACK is talking, FRED is hanging on his every word.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Jack liked the attention. He started inviting Fred to his dinner parties.

[Montage. Dinner party at JACK and CHARLOTTE's. FRED gazes raptly at CHARLOTTE, while she ignores him.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Jack had really got to trust Fred. He started taking him to parties at Samantha's place too.

[Montage. A much wilder party. FRED looks embarrassed, but is clearly eyeing up SAMANTHA]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Pretty soon, Fred had fallen for Samantha as well. Oh, and somewhere around here he went back to Wisconsin for a couple of months and managed to get engaged to the girl next door.

[Montage. FRED is with the adoring GIRL-NEXT-DOOR, who's even younger and more innocent-looking than he is. Dissolve back to restaurant. MIRANDA is struggling to keep up with the story.]

MIRANDA: So, uh, let me see, he can only love Charlotte but he's got the hots for Samantha and he's engaged to the girl next door?

[CHARLOTTE looks like she wants to sink through the floor. She takes a large sip of her cocktail. SAMANTHA is having fun.]

SAMANTHA: [to MIRANDA] Don't worry, babe, it hasn't got complicated yet.

CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred made progress with Charlotte. She let him hold her hand while she told him about her problems. But that's all that happened.

[Montage. FRED and CHARLOTTE gaze soulfully into each other's eyes, go for walks hand-in-hand, pick flowers, etc]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Obviously, Fred wanted more. He made a date with Charlotte at the New York apartment he'd just started renting. This was going to be it.

[Montage. FRED, in an agony of suspense, is waiting outside the apartment block. He keeps looking at his watch.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Unfortunately, the date was September 11, 2001.

[Montage. The Twin Towers erupt in flames. People screaming in the streets. FRED is still looking at his watch as they stream past.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred was so angry with Charlotte for not turning up. He went to see Samantha.

[Montage. FRED and SAMANTHA are having sex. Dissolve back to restaurant.]

SAMANTHA: [elaborate shrug] Well, I needed a fuck pretty bad.

CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred liked being with Samantha. But deep down, he never forgave her for making him betray his true love. He started seeing someone else, the wife of a rich banker.

[Montage. FRED is having sex with RICH BANKER WIFE. Back to restaurant.]

MIRANDA: [completely lost] So, he's sleeping with you and the banker's wife because he can't be with his true love? And what's with the fiancée?

SAMANTHA: [large sip of cocktail] That's it, babe. He thought it was my fault, and the banker's wife's fault. And maybe the fiancée's fault too, but I was never quite sure about that. Of course, it all ended in tears.

[Montage. SEVERAL WOMEN are yelling at FRED, throwing things, etc]

SAMANTHA: [back in restaurant] Your friend Stanford told Charlotte and me we should read Sentimental Education. He was right. It's just uncanny. Flaubert is a bit of an asshole, but he sure spills the beans on how men think when they cheat. It helped. [putting an arm around CHARLOTTE] And somehow, Charlotte and I ended up friends. Sorry babe. [She drains her glass. CHARLOTTE drains hers and hugs her back. There are tears in her eyes.]

CARRIE: [voiceover] I swear, I'd become a lesbian if I didn't like cock so much. And I wish I'd read Flaubert earlier.

[Theme music, credits]
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for StefanP.
163 reviews79 followers
September 15, 2021

Ništa tako ne unižava kao kad glupaci uspjevaju u poduhvatima u kojima pametan čovjek propada.

Od mladosti do starosti, od ljubavi do prezira, od mirisa cvijeća do mirisa baruta, od monarhije do republike; takvi su putevi Frederika Moroa.

Sentimentalno vaspitanje istorijski predstavlja jednu epohu koju oblikuju tadašnji naraštaji kroz ljubav i politiku. Priča romana živi i danas. Fobler svjedoči o jednom vremenu gdje je postojala jaka volja, nada i ambicija. Sve se to vuklo kroz njegove likove, u njima tinjalo, ali je onda polako počinjalo da se gasi. Istina je nadvladala iluzije. Slatkoća i gorčina i dalje su ujednačene. Svi likovi i događaji su opisivani kroz vizuru Frederika Moroa. Njegov mikrokosmos obasjavaju velelepne ulice Pariza, pompa određenih kutova, stravstveni ljubavni podvizi, dok je predstojeće varvarstvo negdje iznad gravitiralo i čekalo svoj trenutak. Danas bi ovaj roman možda bio okarakterisan kao jedna obična sapunica, možda čak i kao bledunjav, pa ipak on je kristalno jasan. Strogim koracima je koračao ka onome što je zbilja neminovno i uzvišeno u takvoj stvarnosti, i što estetski ironično upotpunjuje jednu tačku proživljenosti.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews490 followers
May 25, 2023
About A Sentimental Education Gustave Flaubert wrote, "I want to write the moral history of the men of my generation—or, more accurately, the history of their feelings. It's a book about love, about passion; but passion such as can exist nowadays—that is to say, inactive." And the feeling of love and inactive passion of Frederic Moreau is the resulting story.

Setting in the time of the 1848 French Revolution which resulted in the formation of the nation's Second Republic, Gustave Flaubert writes a grand love story of Frederic Moreau, borrowing heavily from his personal experiences. When young Frederic falls in love with an older married woman at the age of 18, his "sentimental education" begins. Being at the impressionable, idol-worshipping age, the lady becomes the center in everything Frederic does. He knows that it is a love that would be frustrated and a romantic passion that would never be fulfilled, yet he hopes against all odds and is steadfast in his love. He stands by her through all her troubles without expecting any reward in return. When however after a long separation they meet again under favourable circumstances, Frederic is dismayed to see his idol thrown from his pedestal, and his life's love withers away under the change, completing his "sentimental education".

The protagonist, Frederic Moreau, is a sort of anti-hero. He is not industrious and wastes away in idle pursuits living on his inheritance. His great love doesn't shield him from the power of seduction and he has his fair share of mistresses. He is a good-hearted man nevertheless and lets every Tom, Dick, and Harry take advantage of him. Nothing major happens in his life except for his great love and inactive passion, and he stays much the same throughout the story pinning all his failures on "being sentimental". Frederic exasperated me to no end, and I disliked him in the beginning. But when the story progressed, I could come to better terms with him. And I truly felt sorry for him at the end.

A Sentimental Education is not only a love story, but also a historical account. There is a true account of the political failures of the Monarchy and the growing frustration of the intellectual youth that led them to take arms. I'm unaware of Flaubert's political allegiance, but I perceived satire on both the Monarchy and the Republic that followed.

Flaubert's writing is truly masterful. But it is something I didn't understand at once. The tone was so matter of fact at the beginning that I felt the whole thing is emotionally barren. I had to stop a little quarter way to breathe and repose. When I resumed, I found some mysterious enticement in Flaubert's words as he slowly worked his way on the different passions and sentiments of the characters bringing more warmth and feelings into the story. I was very much surprised by his style initially, but when I pondered over it, I realized that it was because Flaubert didn't want to define the characters nor the situation. He leaves it entirely to the readers, himself being detached from them. When the readers have sufficiently acquainted themselves with the characters and the situation of the story, Flaubert digs deeply into the lives and circumstances of the characters bringing out their inner feelings and passions. Although Flaubert took me on a ride, I was very much impressed by the ultimate destination to which he brought me.

There is nothing further to say. I'm sure you who read this review now understand why I enjoyed this book very much.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,049 reviews4,117 followers
June 4, 2012
An exhausting thrill-ride through the zany world of womanising socialite Frédéric, or—for the first 300 pages, at least—wannabe womanising socialite Frédéric. Because Frédéric can’t make it happen with his mate Arnoux’s missus, nor his mate Arnoux’s mistress, this frustration is the bane of his existence as he falls in and out of money, society and love. Against the backdrop of the 1848 Paris uprising this novel heaves with ornate descriptive grandeur, political commentary and violence, a frenetic comic energy, and more love triangles than the HMS Hefner in Bermuda. A classic that delights, frustrates, amuses and teases in equal measure—what more could you ask for? Sex? Well, there’s no sex. You have sex on the brain, you do. Take a cold shower.
Profile Image for MihaElla .
227 reviews359 followers
August 31, 2019
Education is not a pleasant thing for the one who is subject to it. What does education mean?
Education means, simply speaking, taming, breaking, creating certain reflexes, correcting. However, to correct it is to break something and that is always painful at first. Of course after that it is fine, but at first it is not pleasant at all. If we go to school to be educated, it is because we have nowhere to go. Because our reflexes are crude, raw, virgin, because we can more easily change the nature of our passions.
But what about the grown-up man? A certain illusion is born in the mature man: I am as good as I am, I need nothing more. I'm coping with the way I am. This illusion is not at all unnatural and not at all condemnable. It is difficult to reconcile with the idea that you are unsuccessful, that you have stitches, that you are vicious, that you are tied to the senses, that your ideas are just prejudices and your feelings are confused and mediocre. It is difficult to accept because it is proper for man to believe in himself, without self-confidence he cannot have the feeling of fullness and freedom. For man to doubt himself, his own experience must restrain him. For example, he should believe himself in being unbearable to women and women, in dealing with him, to show him that he is unbearable, but not who knows what. He must believe himself intelligent, and in a determined circumstance to prove to him the opposite. It seems indisputable that in most cases things happen in this way, with the exceptions for which the educational precepts are not sufficient.

Literature is made for the vast majority of people and has an educational purpose. So, dear friend of my heart, I will want to reread your book someday..

<< ...I wanted to reread it (*ie, George Sand), my daughter-in-law has read it too, and some of my young people, all readers in earnest and of the first rank and not stupid at all (*thank you, George Sand!). We are all of the same opinion, that it is a beautiful book, equal in strength to the best ones of Balzac and truer, that is to say more faithful to the truth from one end to the other.
One needs the great art, the exquisite form and the severity of your work to do without flowers of fancy. However, you throw poetry with a full hand on your picture, whether your characters understand it or not. (Rosanette at Fontainebleau does not know on what grass she walks and nevertheless she is poetic.)
All that issues from a master's hand, and your place is well won for always. Live then as calmly as possible in order to last a long time and to produce a great deal. I have seen two short articles which did not seem to me to rebel against your success; but I hardly know what is going on, politics seems to me to absorb everything.
Keep me posted. If they did not do justice to you I should be angry and should say what I think. It is my right.>>


Dear good master,

Your old troubadour (ie, Gustave Flaubert) is vehemently slandered by the papers. Read the Constitutionnel of last Monday, the Gaulois of this morning, it is blunt and plain. They call me IDIOTC and COMMON.
Barbey d'Aurevilly's article (Constitutionnel) is a model of this character, and the good Sarcey's, although less violent, is in no way behind it. These gentlemen object in the name of MORALITY and the IDEAL! I have also been annihilated in le Figaro and in Paris, by Cesana and Duranty.
I most profoundly don't care a fig! but that does not make me any the less astonished by so much hatred and bad faith.
La Tribune, le Pays and l'Opinion nationale on the other hand have highly praised me... As for the friends, the persons who received a copy adorned by my hand, they have been afraid of compromising themselves and have talked me of other things. The BRAVE are FEW. The book is selling very well nevertheless, in spite of politics, and Levy appears satisfied.
I know that the bourgeois of Rouen are furious with me "because of pere Roque and the cancan at the Tuileries." They think that one ought to prevent the publication of books like that (textual), that I lend a hand to the Reds, that I am capable of inflaming revolutionary passions, etc., etc. In short, I have received very few laurels, up to now, and no rose leaf hurts me.
All the papers cite as a proof of my depravity, the episode of the Turkish woman, which they misrepresent, naturally; and Sarcey compares me to Marquis de Sade, whom he comfesses he has not read!
All that does not upset me at all. But I WONDER what use there is in printing my book? >>


As always, George Sand is the master of words and has the last of it:

<< I think that your school is not concerned with the substance, and that it dwells too much on the surface. By virtue of seeking the form, it makes the substance too cheap! it addresses itself to the men of letters. But there are no men of letters, properly speaking. Before everything, one is a man. One wants to find man at the basis of every story and every deed. That was the defect of l'Education sentimentale, about which I have so often reflected since, asking myself why there was so general a dislike of a work that was so well done and so solid. This defect was the absence of ACTION of the characters on themselves. They submitted to the event and never mastered it. Well, I think that the chief interest in a story is what you did not want to do. If I were you, I would try the opposite; you are feeding on Shakespeare just now, and you are doing well! He is the author who puts men at grips with events; observe that by them, whether for good or for ill, the event is always conquered. In his works, it is crushed underfoot.

L'Education sentimentale has been a misunderstood book, as I have told you repeatedly, but you have not listened to me. There should have been a short preface, or, at a good opportunity, an expression of blame, even if only a happy epithet to condemn the evil, to characterize the defect, to signalize the effort. All the characters in that book are feeble and come to nothing, except those with bad instincts; that is what you are reproached with, because people did not understand that you wanted precisely to depict a deplorable state of society that encourages these bad instincts and ruins noble efforts; when people do not understand us it is always our fault. What the reader wants, first of all, is to penetrate into our thought, and that is what you deny him, arrogantly. He thinks that you scorn him and that you want to ridicule him. For my part, I understood you, for I knew you. If anyone had brought me your book without its being signed, I should have thought it beautiful, but strange, and I should have asked myself if you were immoral, skeptical, indifferent or heart-broken. You say that it ought to be like that, and that M. Flaubert will violate the rules of good taste if he shows his thought and the aim of his literary enterprise. It is false in the highest degree. When M. Flaubert writes well and seriously, one attaches oneself to his personality. One wants to sink or swim with him. If he leaves you in doubt, you lose interest in his work, you neglect it, or you give it up.

I have already combated your favorite heresy, which is that one writes for twenty intelligent people and does not care a fig for the rest. It is not true, since the lack of success irritates you and troubles you. Besides, there have not been twenty critics favorable to this book which was so well written and so important. So one must not write for twenty persons any more than for three, or for a hundred thousand. One must write for all those who have a thirst to read and who can profit by good reading. Then one must go straight to the most elevated morality within oneself, and not make a mystery of the moral and profitable meaning of one's book. People found that with Madame Bovary. If one part of the public cried scandal, the healthiest and the broadest part saw in it a severe and striking lesson given to a woman without conscience and without faith, to vanity, to ambition, to irrationality. They pitied her; art required that, but the lesson was clear, and it would have been more so, it would have been so for everybody, if you had wished it, if you had shown more clearly the opinion that you had, and that the public ought to have had, about the heroine, her husband, and her lovers.

That desire to depict things as they are, the adventures of life as they present themselves to the eye, is not well thought out, in my opinion. Depict inert things as a realist, as a poet, it's all the same to me, but, when one touches on the emotions of the human heart, it is another thing. You cannot abstract yourself from this contemplation; for man, that is yourself, and men, that is the reader. Whatever you do, your tale is a conversation between you and the reader. If you show him the evil coldly, without ever showing him the good he is angry. He wonders if it is he that is bad, or if it is you. You work, however, to rouse him and to interest him; you will never succeed if you are not roused yourself, or if you hide it so well that he thinks you indifferent. He is right: supreme impartiality is an anti-human thing, and a novel ought to be human above everything. If it is not, the public is not pleased in its being well written, well composed and conscientious in every detail. The essential quality is not there: interest. The reader breaks away likewise from a book where all the characters are good without distinctions and without weaknesses; he sees clearly that that is not human either. I believe that art, this special art of narration, is only worth while through the opposition of characters; but, in their struggle, I prefer to see the right prevail. Let events overwhelm the honest men, I agree to that, but let him not be soiled or belittled by them, and let him go to the stake feeling that he is happier than his executioners.

You must have success after that bad luck which has troubled you deeply. I tell you wherein lie the certain conditions for your success. Keep your cult for form; but pay more attention to the substance. Do not take true virtue for a commonplace in literature. Give it its representative, make honest and strong men pass among the fools and the imbeciles that you love to ridicule. Show what is solid at the bottom of these intellectual abortions; in short, abandon the convention of the realist and return to the time reality, which is a mingling of the beautiful and the ugly, the dull and the brilliant, but in which the desire of good finds its place and its occupation all the same. >>
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,429 reviews694 followers
November 19, 2017
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، من این کتاب را با نامِ "آموزهٔ سه�� ها" یا "آموزش عاطفی" میشناسم.. ولی آنچه برجسته است این است که هدفِ اصلی <گوستاو فلوبر> از نوشتنِ این کتاب، بیانِ احساساتِ بسیار زیادِ فرانسوی ها و همچنین برآیند ها و پی آمدهایِ شکستِ عشقی میباشد.... فلوبر چیزی در حدودِ هفت سال از عمرِ خویش را پایِ نوشتنِ این رمان نهاد
‎شخصیتِ اصلی داستان، جوانی به نامِ <فردریک مُورو> میباشد.. فردریک در سالِ 1840 میلادی همراه با مادرِ خود به شهرِ "نوژان سور سن" سفر کرده و در آنجا با زنی زیبارو به نامِ <خانم آرنو> آشنا میشود.. در همان نگاه نخست، یک دل نه صد دل، عاشق و دلباختهٔ این زن میشود.. ولی مشکل آنجاست که او شوهر کرده است
‎فردریک با داغی که بر دل دارد به پاریس باز میگردد، ولی نمیتواند عشقِ به <خانمِ آرنو> را فراموش کند... ناامیدی و سبُک سری در زندگیِ او موج میزند... تمامِ وقتش را بر گشت و گذار و رفت و آمد با دانشجویان و بازاریان و هنرمندان میگذراند... او در زندگیِ خویش معشوقه هایی دارد که از نظر سنی از او بزرگتر هستند.. <خانم دامبروز> که زنی ثروتمند است و <خانم رزانت> که تمام وقتش را در آتلیه و نمایشگاه ها سپری میکند... جالب است بدانید که از برخی جهات شخصیتِ فردریک شبیه به شخصیتِ نویسندهٔ کتاب است... <گوستاو فلوبر> نیز در جوانی سه معشوقه داشت که همگی از نظر سنی از او بزرگتر بودند
‎فردریک با شوهرِ خانمِ آرنو آشنا میشود... او مردی خوش گذران و خیانتکار و هوس ران است و شغلش خرید و فروشِ تابلوهایِ نقاشی میباشد و با زنهای زیادی در نمایشگاه ها آشنا شده است... رزانت نیز معشوقهٔ او بوده است و سپس با فردریک آشنا میشود... فردریک افسوس میخورد که چرا مردی با خانم آرنو است که سپاسدارِ این زن نمیباشد و چرا نباید او به جایِ آن مردِ هوس باز، با خانمِ آرنو زندگی کند
‎فردریک پس از مدتی از همه چیز و همه کس دلزده میشود و رابطه اش را با زن ها نیز قطع کرده و حتی با <لوئیز> که او را میپرستد و با او قصدِ ازدواج دارد نیز قطع رابطه میکند
‎در سالِ 1848 میلادی، شورش و انقلاب سراسر فرانسه را زیر و رو کرده است.. دوستانِ فردریک همچون <سرنال> در این شورش ها شرکت میکنند. ولی فردریک هیچگونه علاقه ای به این کارها نشان نمیدهد و خود را از دوستانِ انقلابیِ خویش جدا میکند.... در همان روزها به طور اتفاقی با خانمِ آرنو، برخورد میکند... ولی هرکاری میکند نمیتواند به او بگوید که تا چه اندازه دیوانه وار دلباختهٔ او میباشد... او به جایی رسیده است که دیگر برایِ رسیدنِ به آرزوهایش هیچ تلاشی نمیکند
‎سرانجامِ آن انقلاب و شورش ها، پایانِ حکومتِ <لویی فلیپ> و آغازِ جمهوری دومِ فرانسه است... فردریک نسبت به سرنوشتِ سرزمینش و هیجاناتِ انقلاب بی تفاوت است
‎بیست و هفت سال از نخستین دیدارِ او با خانمِ آرنو میگذرد... فردریک به همان شهری که دلدادگی اش از آنجا آغاز شده، باز میگردد و داستانِ زندگی اش و آن عشقِ نافرجام و غم انگیز را برایِ دوستش <دلوریه> بازگو میکند
‎امیدوارم این ریویو در جهتِ شناختِ این کتاب، کافی و مفید بوده باشه
‎<پیروزباشید و ایرانی>
Profile Image for lorinbocol.
261 reviews321 followers
October 10, 2019
in una delle scene più youtoubate di manhattan, woody allen colloca l’educazione sentimentale di flaubert al sesto posto, in ordine di comparizione, nell’elenco delle cose per cui vale la pena vivere. per dovere d’inventario, subito dopo i film svedesi («naturalmente») e prima di marlon brando e frank sinatra.
ed è un curioso contrappasso per questo immenso romanzo (e pace se il plot preferisce le slabbrature ai colpi di scena, e se qui dentro non si trova un eroe che sia uno: flaubert aveva in uggia il romanzesco in sé, e ci ha messo 5 anni per creare quest’opera a modo suo. ma ne è uscito, appunto, un immenso romanzo) dicevo che è un curioso contrappasso, la lista in cui allen inserisce l’educazione. perché girata l’ultima pagina, la prima cosa che ragionevolmente ci si chiede è proprio per cosa davvero ha vissuto frédéric moreau. per cosa, se il grande amore della sua vita è rimasto nella categoria miraggio, e se il dialogo che chiude le quasi 500 pagine sancisce che, per la strabenedetta educazione sentimentale del titolo, niente è stato più istruttivo di qualcosa avvenuto prima che tutto iniziasse. qualcosa che sembrava niente, ma aveva in sé l’entusiasmo non ancora corroso dalla disillusione. perché pur essendo stato pensato nella francia di metà dell’800, il protagonista frédéric fa la fine della giovane promessa di arbasiniana definizione. e per tutto il libro noi perdiamo leggerezza e fiducia a palate, insieme a lui.
(detto ciò: più flaubert per tutti, sempre).
Profile Image for Nora Barnacle.
164 reviews103 followers
March 9, 2016
Floberovo "Sentimentalno vaspitanje" je knjiga koja počinje u ranoj mladosti, a završava se u ranoj starosti jednog pametnog, ali previše osećajnog Francuza sa umetničkim senzibilitetom, Frederika Moroa, na čijem primeru se pokazuje i kako ne tako surove životne okolnosti (izuzimajući Revoluciju koja je na nivou epizodnog lika u očima Frederika) vrlo lako mogu da ubuđave mladalačke snove i ambicije.

Istina, Frederik nije baš nevina žrtva: nije da se ne angažuje u cilju te propasti, sve i da je taj angažman nekakava samopovodljivost ni za čim, gotovo strastvena ambivalentnost (da, sve paradoksi), on lebdi iznad i izvan života, menjajući stvarnost za iluzije a iluzije za život. Na kraju nema lekcije, a mi nemamo osećaj kruženja po istoj putanji.

Frederik je od onih likova koji, naizgled, sve rade pogrešno, ali za čije postupke ne nalazite alternativu (u tom smislu, roman je hermetički zatvoren). Svakako među najzanimljivijim književnim likovima za koje znam.

Iako je glavni motiv (momenat iz Floberove biografije takođe) celoživotna ljubav prema jednoj ženi, u roman su uklopljene još 3, koje Ingrid Šafanek poredi sa 4 elementa koja bi mogla da čine nekakvu celinu Frederikovih potreba. Pogrešno bi bilo sklapati od njih idealnu jednu, to nije namera.

Ovo nije ljubavni roman, makar ne u mom shvatanju. Pre bih ga svrstala u grupu onih što postavljaju pitanje "šta bismo menjali kad bismo živeli u svetu najboljem od svih?".
Kažu da je Flober hteo da prikaže izgubljenost svoje generacije, ali se namestilo da su i potonje izgubljene u sličnoj meri i na sličan način, pa mu je vanvremenost došla gratis. Doduše, sa zakašnjenjem, budući da ni kritiku ni publiku Sentimentalno vaspitanje nije fasciniralo. Ali jeste Džojsa, Hamsuna, Prusta, Kafku (koji se nije odvajao od francuskog izdanja ove knjige).

Struktura romana, jezik i stil su nešto o čemu ne treba govoriti: sumnjam da išta može biti toliko sivo i gorko u toj količini sjaja i slatkoće.
Velika preporuka!
Profile Image for Axl Oswaldo.
332 reviews164 followers
December 29, 2021
Best book I read in April 2021

“Yo había creído, cuando llegó la Revolución, que seríamos felices. ¿Se acuerda usted qué hermoso era aquello? ¡Qué bien se respiraba! Pero estamos peor que nunca.”

Esta novela me ha sorprendido mucho. Por una parte, porque hallé en ella más de lo que pensaba encontrarme. Y es que en cada sinopsis que leo casi siempre dice lo mismo: el interés amoroso que persigue Frédéric Moreau, un estudiante de primer año de derecho, hacia la señora Arnoux, una mujer casada, a quien conoce en una embarcación y de quien se enamora instantáneamente; y es verdad, ese es el hilo principal de la novela, pero en parte.

Yo diría que alrededor de la mitad del libro se centra en mostrarnos la situación política, social, y en algunos casos económica y cultural, en la que se encontraba Francia en el periodo en que se desarrolla la obra (desde 1840 hasta la Revolución de 1848 y unos cuantos años posteriores).
Me atrevo a decir, bajo mi punto de vista, que la historia de amor de nuestro protagonista es una excusa para hilar una crítica social, siendo más específico, a la sociedad parisina de dicha época. Una excusa perfecta, en mi opinión, porque cumple con la función de hacer un símil con la realidad que se vivía en esos momentos.

También se tocan puntos que conciernen a la educación superior y la postura de los estudiantes, por ejemplo, la huelga estudiantil, que si me pongo a pensar, los motivos que la provocaban no varían mucho a los que se dan en la actualidad.

Además, Frédéric se encuentra conviviendo entre dos mundos: por un lado hacia ciertas personas que conoce a través del banquero Dambreuse, individuos de la clase privilegiada y con buenas oportunidades; por otro lado, su grupo de amigos y conocidos, en especial Deslauriers, Sénécal, y Hussonnet, quienes tienen un par de ideas que cuestionan la vida y costumbres de los grupos privilegiados y la burguesía.

No es una novela que se lea rápido, incluso en algunas partes me tomaba mi tiempo al leerlas porque tenía que buscar nombres, lugares o simplemente el contexto histórico en el que se estaba dando una situación específica.

Lo que vale totalmente la pena, y la razón por la que Flaubert está entre mis tres autores favoritos, es indudablemente la narrativa. Su manera de escribir, su vasto número de descripciones a través del libro, son en mi opinión, difíciles de superar y la mejor parte de toda la novela. Por ejemplo, en la edición que yo leí hay una página, la 127, en la que Frédéric describe su sentir hacia la señora Arnoux, y desde que leí eso presentí que muy probablemente se convertiría en una de mis mejores lecturas del año.

Asimismo, no puedo permitirme dejar de lado la tercera parte, la que para mí, es la mejor y por sí sola, es la que más nos sitúa en el contexto histórico que gira entorno a nuestros personajes; ahora, siendo más específico, el final del cuarto capítulo, y todo el capítulo cinco... me es imposible describir todo lo que me hicieron sentir, además del sabor agridulce y los ‘pelos de punta’ durante la lectura, pero desde Moby Dick que un par de capítulos no me impactaban tanto.

Por mencionar otro punto, el final me pareció totalmente redondo; no deja ningún hueco sin rellenar, ni siquiera la ‘cabeza de vaca’ (al leerlo sabrán a qué me refiero).

En general, creo que si amaste Madame Bovary, recomiendo leer esta novela (no se parece en nada en cuanto a trama, pero sí comparte similitudes en la escritura). Si no te gustó Madame Bovary —en especial por la manera de estar escrita—, o te fue indiferente, mejor pensarlo dos veces.

P.S. No cabe la menor duda de que tendré que reencontrarme con esta obra dentro de unos cuantos años.
Profile Image for Sandra.
923 reviews265 followers
December 19, 2021
Ho letto l’ultima riga, ho chiuso il libro e sono stata colta da un’improvvisa tristezza, profonda come poche altre volte. Al contempo, però, sono soddisfatta perch�� ho letto un libro che non può non essere letto, imperdibile. E da ora in poi ne consiglierò a tutti la lettura. E’ “IL ” romanzo, per me. Perfetto, stupendo in ogni sua pagina, in ogni riga. Un mondo racchiuso in poco più di 500 pagine.
C’è il mondo di Frédéric Moreau, uno studente diciottenne che, intorno al 1840, lascia Parigi per tornare nel suo paese nativo, Nogent sur Seine, e nel battello lungo la Senna incontra colei che diverrà in un attimo il "grande amore" della sua vita, Madame Arnoux, la donna che dalla prima pagina del romanzo fino all’ultima, occupa i pensieri del protagonista, il quale, alla fine del romanzo, divenuto adulto
Conobbe la malinconia dei piroscafi, i freddi risvegli sotto la tenda, la vertigine dei paesaggi e delle rovine, l’amarezza delle simpatie troncate.
Frequentò la società, ed ebbe altri amori ancora. Ma il ricordo incessante del primo glieli rendeva insulsi: e poi la veemenza del desiderio, la freschezza stessa delle sensazioni era perduta. Anche le sue ambizioni intellettuali erano appassite. Passarono anni; e lui sopportava l’inoperosità dell’intelligenza e l’inerzia del cuore.”
Con queste parole Flaubert sintetizza una vita: un’esistenza fatta di desideri, di speranze, che riempiono la giovinezza e che si perdono per strada, nel corso delle variegate esperienze che la vita sottopone, appassiscono e muoiono rivelandosi illusioni e alla fine il ricordo tutto sopisce e spegne. Così è Frédéric: un irresoluto, volubile ed inetto, con tante belle idee per la testa e tante belle parole che rimangono tali, senza tradursi in azioni nè in sentimenti.Così come i suoi amici, giovani della sua generazione, idealisti e irresoluti, che insieme con il protagonista attraversano gli anni dei moti rivoluzionari adeguandosi al vento che tira; così come i ricchi borghesi parigini, che si sono arricchiti con la monarchia ma che, al primo anelito di idee rivoluzionarie, si buttano a capofitto nella nuova repubblica da fondare, cambiando le loro idee e i loro pensieri come bandiere al vento; così come le giovani mantenute che vivono in eleganti case pagate dagli amanti, che ogni giorno dichiarano il loro “amore”a un uomo diverso, a seconda dell’ampiezza o meno del portafogli.
C’è il genere umano nel suo aspetto più meschino, mediocre e codardo destinato a fallire, esaminato da Flaubert con occhio critico mai esente da ironia, che non solo si alterna a momenti di grandi liricità ma addirittura si inserisce nei toni romantici, con effetti ridicolizzanti, per evidenziare ancora di più come il sentimento amoroso, cui tutti aneliamo, non sia altro che una mera illusione. E dunque, l’educazione sentimentale del protagonista non può che avere termine laddove è iniziata, in un bordello frequentato goliardicamente in età adolescenziale dal protagonista e dal suo amico Deslauriers: “è la cosa migliore che abbiamo avuto!”.
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,033 reviews1,186 followers
July 24, 2012

Finished. What an achievement. Writing it, not reading it.

I marvel that he has written a book with no character for which one could have a shred of sympathy and yet somehow we sit there caring what happens. I mean, really caring, reading through breakfast caring.

I kept thinking of The Great Gatsby when Nick says to Jay "They're a rotten crowd...You're worth the whole damn bunch put together." and isn't that what makes the book work, that there is somebody worthy of our caring. But here there isn't one character to redeem the story and yet, even so, even though they are rotten without exception, still Flaubert gets you to care. Amazing.

And then again, I marvel that the book is a complete shambles -

The rest is here.....

Profile Image for Geoff.
444 reviews1,233 followers
October 20, 2011
*this book deserves anywhere between 4.2 and 4.7 stars

“Funny, how the things you have the hardest time parting with are the things you need the least.” (Bob Dylan)

With every work I read or reread by Flaubert, I am all the more convinced that he was the master craftsman, that he was master of attention to the tiny stuff, the small details that are layered brick by brick (word by word), the master of attention to even the mortar between the bricks, and master of raising the whole damn superstructure. The buildings he makes out of words hold the world, and I want to call him King of the Paragraph, because his seem so measured, so precise, so carefully wrought. I’ve heard complaints that his detailing of minutiae can become tedious, but to me that is evidence of the eye fully open, the mind ticking at a heightened rate, the physicality of the world irresistibly impressing itself on his realism. His emotional sketches are just as profound and rich as his inventories of space; his sketches of those characters void of human emotion are equally as profound. Flaubert is almost that Joycean image of the author pairing his nails, detached, his handiwork submerged in refinement. Almost. Because above all Flaubert is a satirist. So his presence is felt, as a ripple on the surface of the water is evidence of a rampart crumbling on the ocean floor. I stole that from Frank O’Hara. But kind of like the experience of reading Nabokov, Flaubert the artist is what is on full display here, and in Sentimental Education, as I said when I was writing about Bouvard and Pecuchet, he is perched behind his curtain like Oz or comfortably atop Mount Olympus like the prankster gods of old. He animates his characters to illustrate human folly above all else- who are we to sympathize with in Madame Bovary? who do we not find ridiculous in B & P? who deserves our alliance in Sentimental Education? - but the almost indefinable thing about Flaubert is that amid his mockery he comes off as touching. Because you get the impression that this cranky god really loves his little pets, and wishes them the best- although he knows with all his prescience what the grim best is for us hopeless little mortals playing our dangerous games.

It’s a pretty grim book. Those two eternal opiates- sex and power- are pretty much the sole motivation behind everyone in Frédéric and Deslauriers’ circle. Allegiances and philosophies are as mutable as clothing or the shifting light in Paris- everything is exhausted in the pursuit of one of those two endless ends. Flaubert claimed his intent was to write “the moral history of the men of my generation” and if so it’s a bleak assessment. The great upheavals that define 19th century France take place as the background of this narrative (the Revolution of 1848 acting as a center point) but Frédéric is too busy trying to get a piece of ass to really notice. The offstage massacres and thunder of guns in far off arrondisements are purposefully distanced- the “moral history” Flaubert is trying to paint is apparently mass solipsism. The revolutionaries become oppressors when it suits them, the super-rich elite are suddenly populists and social advocates when the unrest in the streets threatens the order of things, the artists sell out, brave men are proven cowards, and all seem to worship some vague form of authority, whether it be social, political, or psychological. Frédéric’s obsessive, life-long pursuit of the phantom-like image of Madame Arnoux can be extrapolated into a rather ripe comment on all of those masses surging about in the streets of mid-19th century Paris- they too were chasing ghosts- the ghosts of the Revolution, Royalism, Socialism, Democracy- all those specters that never seem content to lie in their graves; all those straw men people are constantly trying to revive in the name of some sort of never-achieved utopia. See the Dylan quote above.

But the potential bad taste in the mouth that this kind of judgement on humanity could leave, the awfulness, duplicity, shallowness, stupidity, manipulation, and gold-digging of the people in Sentimental Education, is offset by Flaubert’s lovely, lovely prose, his impressionistic drawing of scenes, his adoration of Paris as an entity of indifferent light and beauty; his Paris, the place where history unfolds under the stoicism of stone arcades, where passions are conceived and destroyed, where markets are set up in the mornings and dismantled in the evenings and alluring smells emanate from restaurants, where gossip flows through the gutters like sewage, and alleys are sunk in aqueous light and the sky is always pale or a vaulted blue or gray and about to rain and the amber evening is refracted through clouds, making all of our selfish human endeavors all the more charming, all the more timeless and endearing; and the Seine is reflecting the gaslights in wavering strands as a tortured lover pines on the Pont Neuf at midnight, and hooves percuss and echo from the cobblestones, and Montmarte is filthy and eternal, and the cafes are greasy and alive with chatter and opaque with purple smoke and the men are in their cravats and top-hats and the women are rouged and bosomy and flush and comely. Flaubert cannot help but adore Paris, despite himself. That mythical stage, that constant setting for so much of the great art that the Western world has produced. Sentimental Education succeeds in coming off like an epic of place, of space and lifetimes, a panoptic portrait of interesting times told in often banal scenes and acts; and the technique, skill, or what have you, of the sardonic, darkly hilarious master Flaubert elevates the book beyond some severe excoriation of the human condition- it makes it a vital work of art, resonant now and probably for all time.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
April 26, 2018
I have read half. I am dumping this. I cannot bear another minute of it. A classic not worthy of its title nor its fame.

A book of historical fiction, it draws French society at the time of the 1848 French Revolution. Adulterous love affairs abound, yet they are drawn without a hint of passion! This is a book that does not even come close to fulfilling what the title implies.

The characters are flighty, self-important and totally uninteresting. They are cardboard figures drawn without depth.

The plot is no better. One mistress is exchanged for another. One friend is exchanged for another. A promise is given, but not kept. One employment is exchanged for another or preferably, if one can pull it off, one should not be employed at all. An inheritance is handy.

The writing is wordy, over descriptive, detailing only that not interesting. The fabric of clothing, the wallpaper, floor coverings and mantelpiece ornaments. The mundane objects in a room. Politics of the time is made boring. The physical attributes of a person may be described but their personalities are shallow and without substance.

Without comparing the French text to the English, it is impossible to determine if the translation is at fault. I can state that the prose does not flow properly; in many instances words are not used as they should be. It is at times unclear whom a pronoun refers to and prepositions are incorrectly chosen.

First, I listened to this narrated by Michael Maloney. The French names for places and people were mumbled. It was impossible to follow. The words were sung rather than spoken, as poetry to be recited rather than prose read. I switched to the narrator Jonathan Fried; he is definitely better. The names became decipherable. Fried’s narration I have given three stars.

It is classics such as this that make people dislike classics.

I have given Gustave Flaubert 's Madame Bovary three stars. I will not be reading more by this author.
Profile Image for Tessa Nadir.
Author 3 books273 followers
November 5, 2021
O carte ce nu te poate lasa indiferent - fie o adori, fie o detesti de la inceput. Eu m-am lasat cucerita de stilul autorului care seamana cu o bijuterie indelung si atent slefuita.
Desigur ca povestea de dragoste nu este iesita din comun - un barbat tanar se indragosteste de o femeie casatorita si imposibilitatea acestei iubiri ii acreste inima si il transforma intr-un cinic care apoi ajunge sa se joace cu sentimentele doamnelor. Insa, nu ai cum sa rezisti descrierilor bogate si adesea uimitoare, a metaforelor somptuoase cu care Flaubert isi desfata cititorul. Practic esti smuls din prezent si trimis in Parisul anului 1848, unde esti liber sa porti jupon sau redingota, poti sa-l adulezi sau sa-l ocaresti pe regele Louis Philippe, poti sa te plimbi prin Bois de Boulogne, sa te distrezi la Moulin Rouge sau esti liber sa alegi sa iei parte la Revolutie ori sa privesti de pe margine.
Nu as putea sa inchei fara sa mentionez un citat interesant despre femei: "Inimile femeilor sint ca acele mici scrinuri cu sertare secrete, incastrate unele in altele; te straduiesti, iti rupi unghiile, si gasesti in fund, o floare uscata, fire de praf - sau nimic!"
Profile Image for Shaghayegh.l3.
340 reviews50 followers
December 18, 2018
موضوع کلی داستان ساده و چیزی نبود که قبل‌تر توی کتابی نخونده باشیم؛ اما امان، امان از جزئیات پرپیچ‌و‌تاب و زیبای فلوبر. هروقت نیاز به جزئی‌نگری در داستانی داشتید و حوصله‌تون به‌قدر کافی فراخ بود، این کتاب شما رو به دنیای دیگه‌��ی می‌بره. و تنها ایرادی که می‌تونم بگیرم موضوعات سیاسی-اجتماعی‌ای بود که برای من خیلی جالب نبود و انگار با باقی کتاب حل نمی‌شد. به نوعی حس می‌کردم دارم کتابی از برادر داستایوسکی می‌خونم که اتفاق‌های داستانش حول عشقی در رفت‌وآمد پیش میره.
Profile Image for Tony.
919 reviews1,553 followers
December 13, 2018
Me: I don't like Flaubert.

The Chorus: What?!? What Else? Do you park in handicapped spaces? Do you not wash your hands after using the rest room? Do you chew with your mouth full? Snap your chewing gum? Do you refuse to do the Wave at sporting events? Do you ride in the passing lane even when you're not passing? Did you seriously not watch even a minute of the Kavanaugh Senate hearing? Do you laugh out loud at The Onion? Do you think it's possible the Second Amendment may be read too broadly by some? Do you stop watching Sports Center during the NBA season? Have you ever had more than 12 items in your basket in an express check-out line? DID YOU, SIR, VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP???

Me: I just don't like Flaubert.
Profile Image for FotisK.
367 reviews166 followers
July 13, 2021
1η δημοσίευση, Book Press: https://bit.ly/2U8bFCV

«Οι μεγάλοι γράφουν άσκημα μερικές φορές, και πολύ καλά κάνουν». Ετούτη η φράση αποδίδεται στον Φλομπέρ και περιγράφει ένα από τα πλέον δυσεπίλυτα προβλήματα της λογοτεχνίας. Κοντολογίς, του κατά πόσον ο περφεξιονισμός στο λογοτεχνικό ύφος, η τελειοθηρία που συναρτά το όλον οικοδόμημα από το επιμέρους (σε… μοριακό επίπεδο λέξης) αποτελεί το μέγιστο προσόν ενός συγγραφέα ή δρα περιοριστικά, αποκόπτοντάς τον από το ζωντανό ρεύμα της έμπνευσης, περιορίζοντας την τέχνη σε συνθήκες κλινικών λογοτεχνικών δοκιμών. Γνωρίζουμε ότι ο X. Tζέιμς υπήρξε απόλυτα σύμφωνος επί της αρχής της μορφικής τελειότητας, τουναντίον ο Μπαλζάκ ή ο Ντοστογιέφσκι σίγουρα όχι.

Το εν λόγω ρητό καθίσταται ακόμα πιο ειρωνικό για τον συγγραφέα που έκανε στόχο ζωής το «le mot juste», τη σωστή λέξη, καθότι αδιανόητο για τον ίδιο «να κάνει πολύ καλά, γράφοντας άσχημα», έστω κάποιες φορές. Ο άνθρωπος που αφιέρωνε ημέρες ή εβδομάδες για το χτίσιμο ενός κεφαλαίου, ο «βαρυποινίτης του μυθιστορήματος» είχε πάρει έγκαιρα θέση όσον αφορά ετούτο το ψευτοδίλημμα: το ύφος είναι το άπαν, το ύφος είναι το αίμα που τροφοδοτεί την πάλλουσα καρδιά της λογοτεχνίας, δίχως το οποίο το σώμα του έργου είναι απλά μια ψευδεπίγραφη κατασκευή, μια χυδαία μίμηση. Ο Φλομπέρ έκαψε το λογοτεχνικό του καντήλι αναζ��τώντας την τέλεια κατασκευή, το κατάλληλο εκφραστικό μέσο που θα εξέφραζε το στιγμιαίο καθιστώντας το αιώνιο. Μάταιος ο αγώνας ίσως, αλλά αν κάποιος από τους μεγάλους λογοτεχνικούς προγόνους μπόρεσε να παινευτεί ότι προσέγγισε το μορφικά εντελές, ήταν εκείνος.

Τούτου δοθέντος, ο σύγχρονος αναγνώστης, τον οποίο δεν απασχολούν ζητήματα θεωρίας, ίσως κρίνει τη συζήτηση αυτή ανούσια, καθότι δεν τον απασχολεί παρά το τελικό αποτέλεσμα. Κατ’ άλλους, βέβαια, ψυχαναγκαστικούς με τη λέξη και τη χρήση της, το αποτέλεσμα αυτό προσδιορίζεται εξάπαντος από τ�� modus. Πώς μπορεί επομένως να κριθεί ένα έργο σαν τη «Αισθηματική αγωγή»; Βάσει ποιων προσδοκιών και ποιας οπτικής; Στο κάτω-κάτω το έργο οφείλει να απομονωθεί από τις προθέσεις του δημιουργού και να τοποθετηθεί κάθε φορά στο μικροσκόπιο της εποχής που αναγιγνώσκεται, κρινόμενο από κάθε νέα γενιά αναγνωστών που αναζητά σε αυτό ένα raison d'être, εν μέσω μιας κανονικότητας που αρνείται οτιδήποτε δεν θρέφει το θηριώδες Εγώ της. Η ερώτηση, πιστή στο πνεύμα του δημιουργού, δεν μπορεί να είναι «Tι έχει να προσφέρει το βιβλίο αυτό στον σύγχρονο αναγνώστη;», μιας και η απάντηση σε αυτό είναι ένα ξεκάθαρο και υπερήφανο «Τίποτα!», αλλά πώς επιτυγχάνει τη διαχρονικότητά του, τι το καθιστά μοναδικό και ανεπανάληπτο και γιατί συνεχίζει να διαβάζεται.

Η Αισθηματική αγωγή διαδραματίζεται σε βάθος 28 ετών, διατρέχοντας κάποιες από τις πλέον ταραγμένες περιόδους της γαλλικής ιστορίας: από την Ιουλιανή Μοναρχία (το αρκτικό κεφάλαιο ξεκινά το έτος 1840), μέσω της επανάστασης του 1848, έως το πραξικόπημα του Βοναπάρτη το 1852, με την αυλαία να πέφτει περί το 1868. Αυτό είναι το ιστορικό πλαίσιο στο οποίο κινείται ο πρωταγωνιστής Φρεντερίκ Μορό, αλλά και ένας αριθμός προσώπων που τον πλαισιώνουν. Η εξαιρετικά κατατοπιστική εισαγωγή προσφέρει διεξοδική ανάλυση των ιστορικών γεγονότων και δεν έχει νόημα να επεκταθώ περαιτέρω επ’ αυτών. Ο βασικότερος λόγος είναι εκείνος που αναφέρει ο Ναμπόκοφ στις περίφημες διαλέξεις του και με λίγα λόγια συγκλίνει στο εξής: τρεις παράγοντες επηρεάζουν τη διαμόρφωση ενός ατόμου (κληρονομικότητα, περιβάλλον, άγνωστος παράγοντας Χ). Στην περίπτωση των χαρακτήρων που παίρνουν ζωή στο βιβλίο είναι βεβαίως ο συγγραφέας που ελέγχει, διευθύνει και εφαρμόζει αυτές τις 3 δυνάμεις. Επομένως, τόσο ο Φρεντερίκ, η κυρία Αρνού, ο σύζυγός της, ο φίλος του Ντελοριέ και όλοι εκείνοι που περιδιαβαίνουν στις σελίδες του βιβλίου όσο και το φλεγόμενο Παρίσι, οι επαναστάσεις και όλα τα γεγονότα που αποτυπώνονται, αποτελούν κατασκευές του Φλομπέρ. Το αποτέλεσμα είναι πως ό,τι συμβαίνει στις σελίδες του βιβλίου αυτού συμβαίνει αποκλειστικά στο μυαλό του Φλομπέρ, ανεξάρτητα από τις όποιες επιδράσεις της εποχής, τον αντίκτυπο των γεγονότων κ.ο.κ. Επομένως, όποιος αναγνώστης επιθυμεί αντικειμενικές εκτιμήσεις και ιστορικές αναλύσεις ας προτιμήσει κάποιο ιστορικό βιβλίο. Εδώ θα βρει αποκλειστικά έναν πρωταγωνιστή και ένα Παρίσι που είναι κυήματα της δημιουργικής φαντασίας του Φλομπέρ.

Η λογοτεχνία ως εικαστική τέχνη

Από την εναρκτήρια παράγραφο επάνω στο πλοίο, ο Φρεντερίκ καταφτάνει με το θεμιτό «American Dream» της εποχής εκείνης (να κατακτήσει το Παρίσι), ερχόμενος για πρώτη φορά σε επαφή με την κυρία Αρνού (το αντικείμενο του ανεκπλήρωτου έρωτά του που θα τον συνοδεύσει σε όλη του τη ζωή), εν συνεχεία μετακινούμενος σε σαλόνια, εστιατόρια, δωμάτια, κοινόχρηστους και ιδιωτικούς χώρους, όπου βρίσκεται σε διαρκή περιδίνηση – ο ίδιος όσο και η ιστορία που έχει την τάση να εμφανίζεται εμπρός του και να του βάζει τρικλοποδιές. Εξαρχής ο συγγραφέας υιοθετεί ύφος νωχελικό, αργό, απομονώνοντας τη δράση στο ελάχιστο δυνατό. Η δράση, όπως και οι χώροι στους οποίους εκτυλίσσεται το βιβλίο, είναι κυρίως εσωτερική και προκύπτει σταδιακά, έως ότου αποφασίζει να βγει στον δρόμο και να χτίσει οδοφράγματα, όπως θα δούμε στη συνέχεια.

Ο ίδιος ο Φλομπέρ στα γράμματά του στη δική του αγαπημένη Louise Colet δήλωνε ότι τον ανησυχούσε η απουσία του λεγόμενου ψυχαγωγικού στοιχείου στο έργο του, καθώς η δράση είναι ελάχιστη. Συνέχιζε όμως αποφαινόμενος -και ετούτη είναι η τεράστια παρακαταθήκη του- ότι οι εικόνες είναι η δράση. Σαφώς δυσκολότερο να κρατήσεις το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη με τον τρόπο αυτόν, αλλά αν αποτύχεις τότε η αποτυχία είναι του ύφους. Ο Φλομπέρ συναντά τον R. Barthe που υποστήριξε πολύ αργότερα ότι « Η λογοτεχνία σκηνοθετεί τη γλώσσα, αντί απλώς να τη χρησιμοποιεί». Εδώ ακριβώς κρύβεται επαναστατική φύση της τέχνης του συγγραφέα, μα και της τέχνης εν γένει. Επαναστατικό στην τέχνη είναι πρώτα και πάντα το ύφος καθότι αντλεί το υλικό του από τον αντικειμενικό κόσμο, αλλά ταυτόχρονα τον αρνείται διότι τον παρουσιάζει με μη συμβατικό τρόπο.

Η σκηνοθετική άποψη του Φλομπέρ, είναι η αλήθεια, δημιουργεί σημαντικά προσκόμματα στον λεγόμενο προ-καλλιτεχνικό αναγνώστη, ο οποίος έχει εθιστεί στην άμεση ταύτισή του με τους χαρακτήρες και την πλοκή. Η μεν πλοκή είναι, όπως προειπώθηκε, αργή, οι δε χαρακτήρες όχι άμεσα ταυτίσιμοι. Δεν πρόκειται επουδενί περί εγγενούς αδυναμίας του συγγραφέα, παρά για σκόπιμη ενέργεια, δεδομένου ότι δεν επιθυμεί διόλου αυτού του είδους την ταύτιση. Αυτό που επιχειρεί και επιτυγχάνει στον μέγιστο βαθμό είναι να δημιουργήσει εικόνες και μέσω αυτών να αποδώσει τις εναλλαγές στον χαρακτήρα του πρωταγωνιστή και την αλληλεπίδραση των προσώπων.

Στις Διαλέξεις του για τη «Μαντάμ Μποβαρύ» ο Ναμπόκοφ αναφέρει ότι για να επιτύχει το επιθυμητό αποτέλεσμα ο Φλομπέρ κάνει χρήση μιας ειδικής τεχνικής που μπορεί να ονομαστεί αντιστικτική μέθοδος, η οποία συνίσταται στην παράλληλη διασύνδεση ή στην εμπλοκή δύο ή περισσότερων διαλόγων ή σκέψεων. Ακριβώς το ίδιο, σε σαφώς μεγαλύτερη έκταση, επιχειρεί και στην «Αισθηματική αγωγή», ιδίως στα κεφάλαια εκείνα όπου τοποθετεί τους ήρωες σε συνεστιάσεις, σαλόνια, γεύματα σε ιδιωτικούς ή δημόσιους χώρους, τα οποία χρησιμοποιούνται με εικαστικό τρόπο. Η αίσθηση που αποκομίζουμε είναι ότι ο συγγραφέας φιλοτεχνεί έναν πίνακα (ή σκηνοθετεί μια ταινία), ζωγραφίζοντας με κάθε λεπτομέρεια τον διάκοσμο, τα κάθε λογής αντικείμενα του χώρου, απασχολούμενος με τη σκηνογραφία. Στη συνέχεια, αναλαμβάνει δράση ως διευθυντής φωτογραφίας, φωτίζοντας το καθετί από το γενικό στο ειδικό, εξομοιώνοντας το σημαντικό (το φως από το παράθυρο) με το ασήμαντο (η σκιά μιας φαγιάντσας), το προσωπικό (η επίδραση του νυχτερινού σκότους στους ήρωες) με το απρόσωπο (αντανακλάσεις σε εγκαταλελειμμένα δωμάτια). Και μόνο αφού έχει τοποθετήσει όλα ετούτα στο κάδρο του, εναποθέτει εκεί τους ήρωές του, σε ένα τρίτο επίπεδο, όχι σημαντικότερο μα εξίσου απαραίτητο με τα προηγούμενα. Σχεδόν σε κάθε κεφάλαιο όπου η αντιστικτική μέθοδος χρησιμοποιείται, η ίδια διαδικασία επαναλαμβάνεται: αντικείμενα, φωτισμός, πρόσωπα, αλληλεπίδραση – μ’ αυτή τη σειρά.

Αυτό που πετυχαίνει ο Φλομπέρ είναι να εισαγάγει τον αναγνώστη σε μια διεργασία που επιτελείται αποκλειστικά σε χώρους όπως τα μουσεία. Τουτέστιν, τον υποχρεώνει να απορροφήσει το σύνολο της εικόνας που έχει φιλοτεχνήσει και όχι μόνο εκείνα τα σημεία που προωθούν τη δράση. Ο διάκοσμος είναι η δράση, η φωτογραφία είναι η δράση, οι χαρακτήρες από μόνοι τους δεν υφίστανται. Αυτή είναι η σκηνοθετική-εικαστική άποψη του συγγραφέα κι αυτό επιχειρεί στο βιβλίο του. Καθίσταται πλέον σαφές ότι χωρίς τον Φλομπέρ δεν θα είχαμε τον Προυστ στη Γαλλία, τον Τζόυς στην Ιρλανδία, τον Φώκνερ στην Αμερική. Δεν θα είχαμε τίποτα που αποκαλείται σύγχρονο, αν υποθέσουμε ότι υπάρχει κάτι πιο σύγχρονο από αυτό το βιβλίο.

Την ίδια λειτουργία ακριβώς έχει και το κοινωνικό/ιστορικό/πολιτικό περιβάλλον στο οποίο κινούνται οι ήρωες του βιβλίου, με συνέπεια να λειτουργεί ως διάκοσμος, κάτι που συνάδει με το πνεύμα και την αισθητική του βιβλίου. Ως εκ τούτου -και είναι σημαντικό να γίνει κατανοητό για πληρέστερη αναγνωστική απόλαυση- το ιστορικό πλαίσιο συνυφαίνεται άμεσα με την αισθητική του υλοποίηση. Για παράδειγμα, η επανάσταση του 1848 λαμβάνει χώρα στο σχετικό κεφάλαιο του βιβλίου όχι για μάθουμε δια χειρός Φλομπέρ τι διεμήφθη εκείνη την εποχή και ποιες οι κοινωνικές τάξεις που συγκρούστηκαν, αλλά προκειμένου να δημιουργηθεί το κατάλληλο κλίμα που θα καταστήσει ατελέσφορο το ερωτικό σμίξιμο του ζευγαριού Φρεντερίκ/ κυρίας Αρνού. Το αυτό ισχύει και σε όλες τις άλλες στιγμές όπου ο συγγραφέας περιβάλλει το προσωπικό με το ιστορικό. Δεν πρόκειται προφανώς περί απουσίας θέσης, αλλά ακριβώς το αντίθετο: θέση ξεκάθαρα λογοτεχνική, η οποία αγκαλιάζει άπαντα τα ανθρώπινα πανοραμικά και πανοπτικά.

Αργότερα στο βιβλίο, όταν ο Φρεντερίκ έχει χωρίσει από την κ. Νταμπρεζ και μια σίγουρη περιουσία για χάρη της κ. Αρνου, ξεσπά το πραξικόπημα του 1851. Αλλά ο ήρωας μας "ήταν τόσο απορροφημένος από τα δικά του, τα κοινά τον άφηναν αδιάφορο". Πόσο ανεπιτήδευτα ανυπόκριτο. Πόσο ατελώς ανθρώπινο. Εκεί που ένας ήσσονος σημασίας συγγραφέας, όπως εκείνοι που ακολούθησαν, θα έβαζε τον πρωταγωνιστή να εγκαταλείπεται στη σαγήνη του αγώνα, υποτάσσοντας το ατομικό του πεπρωμένο στο συλλογικό όραμα, προσφέροντας στον αναγνώστη τη θαλπωρή της συμμετοχής σε κάτι που τον ξεπερνά, ο Φλομπέρ στέκεται στο καλλιτεχνικό του ύψος. Ο πρωταγωνιστής είναι ένας λειψός, ανθρώπινος χαρακτήρας, όχι αδιάφορος για όσα συμβαίνουν γύρω του, αλλά ταυτόχρονα έρμαιο των εσωτερικών του συγκρούσεων που τον απασχολούν και καθορίζουν τις πράξεις του. Ακόμα περισσότερο, ο συγγραφέας, εν τω μέσω της ιστορικής τρικυμίας δεν εκπίπτει ποτέ σε ρόλο ρεπόρτερ. Μαινόμενης της αιματοχυσίας νανουρίζει διαρκώς τον αναγνώστη στην ευπροσήγορη καλλιτεχνική του αγκάλη, με εικόνες ποιητικές, φιλοτεχνώντας εικαστικά την εσωτερική δράση. Όσοι αναζητούν επαναστατικές αγιογραφίες, δεν θα τις βρουν στον πλουραλιστικό, σύνθετο κόσμο του Φλομπέρ.

Ο συγγραφέας σε ένα ακόμα γράμμα του στη Louise Colet αναφέρει ότι η τεχνική του συνίσταται στο να «ζωγραφίζει ρίχνοντας χρώμα επάνω στο χρώμα χωρίς όμως ξεκάθαρους τόνους». Μεθερμηνευόμενο: ιστορία, πρόσωπα, εποχές, πόλεις και χωριά, εξωτερικοί και εσωτερικοί χώροι, χρώματα και φωτισμοί, όλα ετούτα είναι τα χρώματα που σωρεύει ο καλλιτέχνης, μη αφήνοντας κάποιο από αυτά να ξεχωρίσει εις βάρος του άλλου. Όσο κι αν αυτό απαιτεί από τον αναγ��ώστη πνευματική εγρήγορση, αποστασιοποίηση και αυτό το… ψυχρό πάθος που αποτελεί, θεωρώ, τον κολοφώνα της αναγνωστικής επάρκειας, η τεχνική αυτή δημιουργεί εσωτερικές εντάσεις που κορυφώνονται σταδιακά, καθώς το έργο οδηγείται στο τέλος του και ο αναγνώστης μένει μόνος του (όπως η γέννηση και ο θάνατος, η ανάγνωση είναι απόλυτα μοναχική διαδικασία) να στοχαστεί αυτό που μόλις διάβασε.

Η κωμωδία των αποτυχημένων

«Τα αιώνια ανθρωπάκια της κωμωδίας...» Πρόκειται για φράση που ο Φλομπέρ ξεστομίζει κάποια στιγμή μετά το μέσο του βιβλίου, λες και δεν είναι ξεκάθαρη η στάση του απέναντι στον πρωταγωνιστή του, αλλά και στα λοιπά πρόσωπα. Η «Ανθρώπινη κωμωδία», για να κάνουμε και την προβλεπόμενη σύνδεση με τον Μπαλζάκ, βρήκε στην «Αισθηματική αγωγή» την ιδανική συνέχεια, γεγονός που ούτε ο ίδιος ο Φλομπέρ αρνείται, βάζοντας τον ήρωά του να κάνει ρητή αναφορά στη μπαλζακική εποποιΐα ήδη από τις εναρκτήριες σκηνές. Οι ομοιότητες εξάλλου με τον «Μπαρμπά-Γκοριό» και τις «Χαμένες ψευδαισθήσεις» είναι τουλάχιστον προφανείς όσον αφορά την πλοκή. Πολλά έχουν ειπωθεί σχετικά με την -επιτυχή για ελαχίστους στην εποχή του, αποτυχημένη για τους περισσότερους- συνάφεια και συνέχεια του έργου των δύο τιτάνων του λεγόμενου ρεαλιστικού μυθιστορήματος του 19ου αιώνα, μα και τις σημαντικές διαφορές στις οποίες θα σταθώ εδώ εν τάχει.
Πρώτα και κύρια ο Μπαλζάκ δεν υπήρξε τελειομανής όσον αφορά το εκφραστικό του μέσο. Είδαμε πώς ο Φλομπέρ υπέταξε τα πάντα στη θήρα της ιδανικής λέξης στην κατάλληλη θέση, συχνά εις βάρος του ενδιαφέροντος του αναγνωστικού κοινού. Επιπλέον, στον Μπαλζάκ οι χαρακτήρες υπήρξαν συνήθως θετικά πρότυπα κομίζοντα ιδέες και οράματα τα οποία οι καταστάσεις, η μοίρα και οι συνθήκες δεν επέτρεπαν να ευοδωθούν ή να εξελιχθούν ως όφειλαν. Αυτό ακριβώς το στοιχείο επέτρεπε στο αναγνωστικό κοινό της εποχή εκείνης, μα και στο σύγχρονο, να ταυτιστεί με κάποιον/ κάποιους ήρωες, και με την ολοκλήρωση του έργου να βιώσει μια όποια κάθαρση.

Ο σύγχρονός του, και θεωρητικά επίγονός του, Φλομπέρ προσδένει δυσήνιους κέλητες στο μπαλζακικό άρμα, σπρώχνοντάς το στα όριά του – κατ’ άλλους στον γκρεμό. Αφού απομονώσει καλλιτεχνικά το εικαστικό του δρώμενο, απορρίπτοντας τις άμεσα ορατές προσπάθειες βεβιασμένου ρεσάλτου του ανεπίγνωστου κοινού, ανατινάζει πίσω του τις γέφυρες που οδηγούν στην κάθαρση. Ετούτη είναι η «Κωμωδία των Αποτυχημένων» και ο Φλομπέρ, ως πανούργος θεός, παίζει με τα όνειρα, τις προσδοκίες και τις διαψεύσεις των ηρώων του – κυρίως του πρωταγωνιστή του. Κανείς δεν νικά, δεν επικρατεί, δεν «αρπάζει την ημέρα» στο βιβλίο αυτό. Όλοι γνωρίζουν την ήττα, εκείνη των ονείρων τους, όπως και η ίδια η χώρα, η Γαλλία, που προσπέφτει στα πόδια της ιστορίας, συχνότερα ηττημένη παρά τροπαιούχος. Σχέδια ματαιώνονται, επιχειρήσεις καταποντίζονται, εφήμερες και μη σχέσεις χλευάζονται και διασύρονται, αισθήματα ποδοπατούνται.

Εν μέσω όλων, ο απροσπέλαστος, αλυσιτελής έρωτας του Φρεντερίκ για την κυρία Αρνού. Αν πίσω από κάθε όνειρο επιτυχίας κρύβεται η ανάγκη για αγάπη και αποδοχή, ο Φρεντερίκ αποτυγχάνει κατά κράτος σε όλα. Σε αγαστό πνεύμα, ο συγγραφέας φιλοτεχνεί τις αποχρώσεις της προσωπικότητας του ήρωά μας διαδοχικά στο πορτρέτο του κι αυτό που τελικά αναδύεται είναι λειψό. Ένας ημιμαθής, ημι-καλλιεργημένος νεαρός που ονειρεύτηκε ότι θα γίνει κύκνος, για να ανακαλύψει κοιτάζοντας στο θολό νερό της ζωής ότι παρέμεινε ασχημόπαπο σε μια τεράστια λίμνη γεμάτη όμοιούς του. Ότι του έδινε φτερά -ο έρωτάς του, το μόνο άδολο στοιχείο- δεν έγινε ποτέ πράξη. Ακόμα και στο τέλος, όταν οι ώριμοι πλέον οιονεί εραστές συναντιούνται για τελευταία φορά, κανείς δεν θα κάνει το τελικό βήμα. Ο έρως παραμένει πλατωνικός, μια δυνατότητα, αλλά και ένα σύμβολο αποτυχίας.
Πώς λοιπόν περίμενε το κοινό και η κριτική από έναν Τιτάνα να μετουσιώσει λογοτεχνικά ετούτη την αποτυχία, τον ξεπεσμό, τη μετριότητα, από το να επιχειρήσει να τα μεταφέρει στην τέλεια αρμονία του ύφους του, παραπλανώντας τους ώστε να πιστέψουν ότι ατελές και μικρό υπήρξε τελικά το βιβλίο κι όχι η ίδια η ζωή που προσπάθησε να αποτυπώσει εντός του; Μίμηση πράξεως ασημάντου και ατελούς, πλην όμως αισθητικά άρτιας και αριστουργηματικής.

Και αν στην «Μποβαρύ» η τελική αυτοκτονία της μοιχαλίδας προσέφερε στο κοινό την ευκταία λύτρωση, στην «Αισθηματική αγωγή» καμία ηθικής φύσεως λύση δεν προκύπτει. Η αγωγή του ήρωα παραμένει αποσπασματική και ανολοκλήρωτη, θαρρείς κοροϊδία απέναντι σε ό,τι φάνταζε ιερό την εποχή του Φλομπέρ μα και μετέπειτα. Και τι είδους αγωγή είναι ετούτη που οδηγεί στις καταληκτικές εκείνες σελίδες που άφησαν άναυδο το αναγνωστικό κοινό και τους κριτικούς με τον αμοραλισμό τους; Θυμίζω εν τάχει: έχοντας πλέον περάσει στην εποχή της ωριμότητας, ο Φρεντερίκ συναντιέται με τον αείποτε φίλο του Ντελοριέ και μη έχοντας να επιδείξουν κάποια ιδιαίτερη επιτυχία του τρέχοντος βίου τους, καταφεύγουν στο παραδοσιακή αναμόχλευση παρελθοντικών αναμνήσεων. Και ποια είναι εκείνη στην οποία στέκονται με δέος προσήκοντα σ’ άλλου είδους εμπειρίες; Τίποτε περισσότερο από την αποτυχημένη (ακόμα μία!) επίσκεψη σ’ έναν οίκο ανοχής κατά την τρυφερή εφηβική ηλικία τους. Η ανάμνηση τους οδηγεί σε γέλωτα και οι τελευταίες λέξεις του βιβλίου ηχούν κραταιές, αιώνιες και απόλυτα σύγχρονες -στιγματίζοντας έκτοτε εκείνους που θέλησαν να πρωτοπορήσουν κι απλά ξεδίψασαν στη σκιά του αιωνόβιου δέντρου του Φλομπέρ, για να αφεθούν μετά στη λήθη του χρόνου- «Αυτό ήταν το καλύτερό μας!».

Πόσο πρωτοποριακό, σύγχρονο, αισθητικά εξαίσιο κλείσιμο, απόλυτα συναφές με ό,τι προηγήθηκε, και για ετούτο διαβάστηκε εσφαλμένα, παρέμεινε ακατανόητο, επικρίθηκε σκαιά, για να αφεθεί στα δοξαστικά χέρια του χρόνου που απέδωσε τελικά δικαιοσύνη. Το ύψιστο επίτευγμα μια αποτυχημένης πορείας, άκαρπης, με την ηθική πυξίδα να δείχνει πάντα λάθος κατεύθυνση, είναι μια εξίσου εσφαλμένη εκκίνηση, μια ανάμνηση αποτυχίας, η οποία μάλιστα δεν περιέχεται καν στο χρονικό πλαίσιο του βιβλίου, αφού προηγήθηκε. Ο μεγάλος δημιουργός αφήνει μετέωρο των αναγνώστη του στον χρόνο, διακόπτοντας τη χρονική ροή η οποία έως τότε κινείτο γραμμικά, έστω με κενά, αποσπώντας από το παρελθόν ένα γεγονός και αναβιβάζοντάς το σε καταληκτική σεκάνς, που με τη σειρά της προσδιορίζει και ουσιαστικά καταδεικνύει καλλιτεχνικά το πώς και το γιατί της πορείας ενός ανθρώπου. Ας σκεφτούμε πόσες φορές έκτοτε έχουμε δει αυτή την τεχνική στο σινεμά, όπου πριν τους τίτλους τέλους, ο σκηνοθέτης επιλέγει μια σκηνή του παρελθόντος για να ολοκληρώσει το πορτρέτο του χαρακτήρα του.

Και η κατάληξη δεν μπορεί παρά να είναι ετούτη: Αν η λέξη «σύγχρονο» έχει κάποιο ουσιαστικό λόγο ύπαρξης, αυτός είναι για να περιγράψει ένα βιβλίο με τον παραπλανητικό και συνάμα ακριβέστατο τίτλο «Αισθηματική αγωγή». Ταυτόχρονα προσφέρει απάντηση στον αρχικό προβληματισμό του κειμένου μου (περί περφεξιονισμού στο ύφος), ανοίγοντας άλλους πολλαπλούς. Εις μάτην, μιας και ο Φλομπέρ δεν είναι εδώ και πολύ καιρό μαζί μας και ό,τι ακολούθησε δεν μπόρεσε ποτέ να πλησιάσει, πόσο μάλλον να ξεπεράσει τον εμμονικό τελειομανή της mot juste.
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews532 followers
March 12, 2017
While Crimes of Passion are All the Fashion, A Gentleman's Picturesque Ideations of Adulterous Procreation

Frederic Moreau comes of age in 1840s Paris. Given to flowery fancies of romance, he falls "in love" with Madame Arnoux, a lady at least a decade his senior, and becomes frustrated with the failed revolution of 1848, a Parisian fiasco. Flaubert said he set out to write a "moral history of the men of [his] generation...the history of their feelings... a book about love, about passion... inactive."

I enjoyed the book not so much for the love on verge of coital, a story line that lost its steam about halfway through the novel, but for its lampooning of a decadent, egocentric French society filled with superficial characters given to whimsy, such as the banker Dambreuse, "a man so habituated to corruption that he would happily pay for the pleasure of selling himself." C. Hitchens, “The Rat That Roared,” Wall Street Journal, 2/06/03.

I found Madame Bovary's abbreviated life much more compelling and revelatory than Monsieur Moreau's romantic adventures in pursuit of Madame Arnoux.
Profile Image for P.E..
776 reviews558 followers
September 19, 2021

'C'est un livre d'amour, de passion ; mais de passion telle qu'elle peut exister maintenant, c'est-à-dire inactive.'

- Gustave Flaubert, à propos de L'Éducation sentimentale, en octobre 1864.

— Ah ! merci ! tu viens me sauver ! c’est la seconde fois ! tu n’en demandes jamais le prix, toi !

— Mille pardons ! dit Frédéric, en lui saisissant la taille dans les deux mains.

— Comment ? que fais-tu ? balbutia la Maréchale, à la fois surprise et égayée par ces manières.

Il répondit :

— Je suis la mode, je me réforme.'

- L'Éducation sentimentale, Frédéric et la Maréchale, 2e partie, VI


My recommendation for a soundtrack to read this review:

Franz Schubert - Piano Trio in E flat, op. 100 (Second movement)


What is this novel about?

Frédéric Moreau is a 18 y.o. law student in Paris, not particularly driven by his studies or embracing a specific career. On his trip back from Paris to Nogent-sur-Seine after the exams, he meets Mme Arnoux, with whom he gets quickly and lastingly infatuated, without them exchanging more than a couple of words. They meet again months later and soon enough, this passion turns into the central motif around which Frédéric organizes his life, standing out against the cultural debates and violent political passions of his time.

My opinion on the matter:

Spannng from 1840 to 1867, this novel feels acutely at odds with its title, as Frédéric is everything but actually learning from his shortcomings, his extravagant expectations and unfocused style of life. In some regards, you could take it as a direct challenge to the reader's patience, since what happens is never happening due to the hero's active decision. In more than a way, it even challenges the very definition of what a character stands for or what life is about. More than everything else, Frédéric seems to merely float or glide, borne by the undercurrent or the winds of his affect, rather than make a move on his own volition. His sudden passion for Mme Arnoux - a married woman he hardly knows - as strong as it is, seems almost derivative, something of a trick he plays on himself to give his life a direction, purpose, meaning, living in an mercantile, business-like, carreer-driven era he can't possibly identify, or engage in any way with.

In that sense, Sentimental education appears to me as a tragic adventure and undertaking: what Gustave Flaubert is resolutely aiming at is the most elusive: the structure of Frederic's psyche, the substance of life in this uncertain, muddied era, the soul of an epoch.

Throughout, the writer makes use of a stunningly cunning technique, with sentences loosely linked to one another, a consistently exteriorized focalization and seemingly disembodied, impersonal narration, while telling the reader a version of his own life and lifelong passion for Élisa Schlésinger. This alone should be enough to call this work a masterpiece, but Flaubert goes beyond.

Consider the sheer scale of his experiment, 26 years. What you have here is a 26-year worth of obsession, fleeting impressions, irresolution, compromissions, treasons, wandering and regrets. At the bare minimum, it takes resolution, dedication, a constant yearning for sincerity, and guts to carry this thing out.

Meticulously detailed and flowing at the same time, it comes as close as can be to a novel without a proper story. Deeply personal, it is also the epitome of a whole generation. Filled with unlikeable characters, yet Flaubert makes them riveting, making you care for them. Unfocused, fragmented and coherent at the same time. Merciless, most biting, unrelentingly ferocious and tender for the characters. A work of pure fiction, a fiction about fiction, and yet, as much as life or streches of years can be. Crowded with instantly recognizable characters, it also offers an extended study on the opacity of individuals in our interpersonal relationship and towards ourselves.

In the end, a cold mirror allowing the reader to consider their own lives in a dispassionate manner, but forgiving and not lacking warmth.

To put it in other words, a masterwork.


'Frédéric pensait à la chambre qu’il occuperait là-bas, au plan d’un drame, à des sujets de tableaux, à des passions futures. Il trouvait que le bonheur mérité par l’excellence de son âme tardait à venir.'

'Les joies qu’il s’était promises n’arrivaient pas ; et, quand il eut épuisé un cabinet de lecture, parcouru les collections du Louvre, et plusieurs fois de suite été au spectacle, il tomba dans un désœuvrement sans fond.'

[Plus loin]

'Il lui semblait, cependant, qu’on devait l’aimer ! Quelquefois, il se réveillait le cœur plein d’espérance, s’habillait soigneusement comme pour un rendez-vous, et il faisait dans Paris des courses interminables. À chaque femme qui marchait devant lui, ou qui s’avançait à sa rencontre, il se disait : « La voilà ! » C’était, chaque fois, une déception nouvelle. L’idée de Mme Arnoux fortifiait ces convoitises. Il la trouverait peut-être sur son chemin ; et il imaginait, pour l’aborder, des complications du hasard, des périls extraordinaires dont il la sauverait.'

'Les convictions de Sénécal étaient plus désintéressées. Chaque soir, quand sa besogne était finie, il regagnait sa mansarde, et il cherchait dans les livres de quoi justifier ses rêves. Il avait annoté le Contrat social. Il se bourrait de la Revue Indépendante. Il connaissait Mably, Morelly, Fourier, Saint-Simon, Comte, Cabet, Louis Blanc, la lourde charretée des écrivains socialistes, ceux qui réclament pour l’humanité le niveau des casernes, ceux qui voudraient la divertir dans un lupanar ou la plier sur un comptoir ; et, du mélange de tout cela, il s’était fait un idéal de démocratie vertueuse, ayant le double aspect d’une métairie et d’une filature, une sorte de Lacédémone américaine où l’individu n’existerait que pour servir la Société, plus omnipotente, absolue, infaillible et divine que les Grands Lamas et les Nabuchodonosors. Il n’avait pas un doute sur l’éventualité prochaine de cette conception ; et tout ce qu’il jugeait lui être hostile, Sénécal s’acharnait dessus, avec des raisonnements de géomètre et une bonne foi d’inquisiteur. Les titres nobiliaires, les croix, les panaches, les livrées surtout, et même les réputations trop sonores le scandalisaient, ses études comme ses souffrances avivant chaque jour sa haine essentielle de toute distinction ou supériorité quelconque.'

'[...] il serait temps de traiter la Politique scientifiquement. Les vieux du XVIIIe siècle commençaient, quand Rousseau, les littérateurs, y ont introduit la philanthropie, la poésie et autres blagues, pour la plus grande joie des catholiques ; alliance naturelle, du reste, puisque les réformateurs modernes (je peux le prouver) croient tous à la Révélation. Mais si vous chantez des messes pour la Pologne, si à la place du Dieu des dominicains, qui était un bourreau, vous prenez le Dieu des romantiques, qui est un tapissier ; si, enfin, vous n’avez pas de l’Absolu une conception plus large que vos aïeux, la monarchie percera sous vos formes républicaines, et votre bonnet rouge ne sera jamais qu’une calotte sacerdotale ! Seulement, le régime cellulaire aura remplacé la torture, l’outrage à la Religion le sacrilège, le concert européen la Sainte-Alliance ; et dans ce bel ordre qu’on admire, fait de débris louis-quatorziens, de ruines voltairiennes, avec du badigeon impérial par-dessus et des fragments de constitution anglaise, on verra les conseils municipaux tâchant de vexer le maire, les conseils généraux leur préfet, les chambres le roi, la presse le pouvoir, l’administration tout le monde ! Mais les bonnes âmes s’extasient sur le Code civil, œuvre fabriquée, quoi qu’on dise, dans un esprit mesquin, tyrannique ; car le législateur, au lieu de faire son état, qui est de régulariser la coutume, a prétendu modeler la société comme un Lycurgue ! Pourquoi la loi gêne-t-elle le père de famille en matière de testament ? Pourquoi entrave-t-elle la vente forcée des immeubles ? Pourquoi punit-elle comme délit le vagabondage, lequel ne devrait pas être même une contravention ! Et il y en a d’autres ! Je les connais ! aussi je vais écrire un petit roman intitulé Histoire de l’idée de justice, qui sera drôle ! Mais j’ai une soif abominable ! et toi ?

Il se pencha par la fenêtre, et cria au portier d’aller chercher des grogs au cabaret.

— En résumé, je vois trois partis…, non ! trois groupes, et dont aucun ne m’intéresse : ceux qui ont, ceux qui n’ont plus, et ceux qui tâchent d’avoir. Mais tous s’accordent dans l’idolâtrie imbécile de l’Autorité ! Exemples : Mably recommande qu’on empêche les philosophes de publier leurs doctrines ; M. Wronski géomètre, appelle en son langage la censure « répression critique de la spontanéité spéculative » ; le père Enfantin bénit les Habsbourg « d’avoir passé par-dessus les Alpes une main pesante pour comprimer l’Italie » ; Pierre Leroux veut qu’on vous force à entendre un orateur, et Louis Blanc incline à une religion d’État, tant ce peuple de vassaux a la rage du gouvernement ! Pas un cependant n’est légitime, malgré leurs sempiternels principes. Mais, principe signifiant origine, il faut se reporter toujours à une révolution, à un acte de violence, à un fait transitoire. Ainsi, le principe du nôtre est la souveraineté nationale, comprise dans la forme parlementaire, quoique le parlement n’en convienne pas ! Mais en quoi la souveraineté du peuple serait-elle plus sacrée que le droit divin ? L’un et l’autre sont deux fictions ! Assez de métaphysique, plus de fantômes ! Pas n’est besoin de dogmes pour faire balayer les rues ! On dira que je renverse la société ? Eh bien, après ? où serait le mal ? Elle est propre, en effet, la société.'

Cependant, objecta Martinon, la misère existe, avouons-le ! Mais le remède ne dépend ni de la Science ni du Pouvoir. C’est une question purement individuelle. Quand les basses classes voudront se débarrasser de leurs vices, elles s’affranchiront de leurs besoins. Que le peuple soit plus moral et il sera moins pauvre !'

More about this quote

'La plupart des hommes qui étaient là avaient servi, au moins, quatre gouvernements ; et ils auraient vendu la France ou le genre humain, pour garantir leur fortune, s’épargner un malaise, un embarras, ou même par simple bassesse, adoration instinctive de la force. Tous déclarèrent les crimes politiques inexcusables.'

'On se redit, pendant un mois, la phrase de Lamartine sur le drapeau rouge, « qui n’avait fait que le tour du Champ de Mars, tandis que le drapeau tricolore », etc ; et tous se rangèrent sous son ombre, chaque parti ne voyant des trois couleurs que la sienne et se promettant bien, dès qu’il serait le plus fort, d’arracher les deux autres.'

'Ils les visitèrent tous, ou presque tous, les rouges et les bleus, les furibonds et les tranquilles, les puritains, les débraillés, les mystiques et les pochards, ceux où l’on décrétait la mort des rois, ceux où l’on dénonçait les fraudes de l’Épicerie ; et, partout, les locataires maudissaient les propriétaires, la blouse s’en prenait à l’habit, et les riches conspiraient contre les pauvres. Plusieurs voulaient des indemnités comme anciens martyrs de la police, d’autres imploraient de l’argent pour mettre en jeu des inventions, ou bien c’étaient des plans de phalanstères, des projets de bazars cantonaux, des systèmes de félicité publique ; puis, çà et là, un éclair d’esprit dans ces nuages de sottise, des apostrophes, soudaines comme des éclaboussures, le droit formulé par un juron, et des fleurs d’éloquence aux lèvres d’un goujat, portant à cru le baudrier d’un sabre sur sa poitrine sans chemise. Quelquefois aussi, figurait un monsieur, aristocrate humble d’allures, disant des choses plébéiennes, et qui ne s’était pas lavé les mains pour les faire paraître calleuses. Un patriote le reconnaissait, les plus vertueux le houspillaient : et il sortait la rage dans l’âme. On devait, par affectation de bon sens, dénigrer toujours les avocats, et servir le plus souvent possible ces locutions : « apporter sa pierre à l’édifice, — problème social, — atelier. »'

'On se vengeait à la fois des journaux, des clubs, des attroupements, des doctrines, de tout ce qui exaspérait depuis trois mois ; et, en dépit de la victoire, l’égalité (comme pour le châtiment de ses défenseurs et la dérision de ses ennemis) se manifestait triomphalement, une égalité de bêtes brutes, un même niveau de turpitudes sanglantes ; car le fanatisme des intérêts équilibra les délires du besoin, l’aristocratie eut les fureurs de la crapule, et le bonnet de coton ne se montra pas moins hideux que le bonnet rouge. La raison publique était troublée comme après les grands bouleversements de la nature. Des gens d’esprit en restèrent idiots pour toute leur vie.'

'Il y rencontra le grand M. A., l’illustre B, le profond C, l’éloquent Z, l’immense Y, les vieux ténors du centre gauche, les paladins de la droite, les burgraves du juste milieu, les éternels bonshommes de la comédie. Il fut stupéfait par leur exécrable langage, leurs petitesses, leurs rancunes, leur mauvaise foi, tous ces gens qui avaient voté la Constitution s’évertuant à la démolir ; et ils s’agitaient beaucoup'

More works:

Promising young men:
Le Père Goriot
Le Rouge et le Noir
Runaway Horses

About the rapid industrialization/financialization and deep societal shifts going with it:
Contes cruels
Au Bonheur des dames

Devastating charge against crony capitalism:
La Curée

Revolutionary movements and the critic thereof:
Crime and Punishment
Blue of Noon
The Secret Agent

Not living one's life:
La Vie est ailleurs

Women of means:
The Great Gatsby

Historical context:
La France du XIXe siècle. 1814-1914
La Révolution Française
Révolutions françaises du Moyen âge à nos jours
La création des identités nationales. Europe, XVIIIe-XXe siècle

Philosophical outviews:
Common Sense
The Law
On Liberty
Dieu et l'Etat
Psychologie Des Foules
The Rebel

Nocturne Op.9 No.2 - Frédéric Chopin
Profile Image for Bilal Y..
102 reviews78 followers
May 4, 2018
Bir romancının, tarihsel gerçekliğin karakterini gölgelemesine izin vermemesini anlayışla karşılamak lazım. Ama eğer romanınızı üzerine kuracağınız karakteri kanın gövdeyi götürdüğü 1840'ların Fransa'sından seçiyorsanız işiniz hayli zor. Frederick Moreau etli sütlüye karışmasa da genç bir burjuva olarak sahnededir. Bir burjuva olması zaten tarihsel politik bir figür olduğunu gösteriyor. Ama siyasi çalkantıların olduğu yer ve zamanlarda dönemin kimi romancıları karakterlerine bu şekilde irade bağışlamıyorlar. Daha çok edilgin karakterler oluyorlar ve maruz bırakılıyor. Profesör Kien'in 1935'de vücut bulduğunu düşündüğümüzde bu tercih daha anlaşılabilir oluyor. Frederick, Kien kadar hareketsiz ve onun kadar iradesiz değil ama onun gibi maruz bırakılıyor. Hayatına kim girerse girsin Kien üzerinde tahakküm tesis edecekti. Frederick ise koşullar onu zorlasa da bir irade sahibi olma konusunda istekliydi. Neyse bu Kien faslını geçiyorum. Bu aralar çok kafama takılıyor Kien. Lafı dönüp dolaştırıp ona getiriyorum bu şekilde. Üstelik Frederick hiç de Kien gibi karikatürize bir tip değil..

Dönem itibarıyla yaratılan karakterlerin devrimci ya da karşı devrimci olma riskleri vardır her zaman. Bu da biraz kurmacanın doğasına aykırı oluyor sanki. Romancı tarihçinin misyonunu da yüklemiş oluyor. Gerçi Foucault tarih tüm hikayelerin tek bir hikayeye indirgenmesi diyor ama bir edebiyatçı olarak Flaubert ise kurmaca söz konusu olduğunda  hikayenin başka türlü de gerçekleşebileceğini göstermek gerektiğini savunuyor. Karakteri hareketsiz ve iradesiz bırakmak bu bakımdan çözüm olabilir. Romanın üçüncü bölümünde kan gövdeyi götürürken Frederick sadece olayları camdan izlemekle yetinir.. Kendisi de bir burjuva olan Flaubert sokak olaylarındaki kişilerin kim olduğuna dair pek bir şey çıtlatmıyor. Bir iki yerde "ayaktakımı" diyor, o kadar.

Ama burjuvaların, Frederick de dahil, masum ve iyi niyet gösterildiğini söylemek zor. Ekonomik kazancın her şeyin üzerinde olduğuna dair bir inançları var. Aristokrat-feodalin doğaya ve sanata karşı coşkulu tavrı onlarda yok. Mösyö Arnaux, sanat organizatörlüğünü bırakıp kömür işine girmesi nedeniyle ressam Pellerin'in nefretini kazanmıştır. Mösyö Arnaux da beylikten burjuvalığa yatay geçiş yapanlardandır. Birçok feodal bey Calvino'nun "atalarımız" diye karikatürize ettiği kont, baron ve dük gibi ünvanlardan kurtulmaya çalışıyor bu dönemde. Frederick'in Vikont Cisy Bilmemne  (soyadını hatırlayamadım) ile yaptığı düello alay konusu olur. Frederic'in sınıfından insanlarla iyi geçindiğini söylemek de zor. En iyi arkadaşı Deslauriers bir mübaşir. Alt sınıftan biri ama sınıf atlama sevdası duyanlardan...

Şövalye döneminin romanslarına yer yoktur artık. Düello gülünç bir şeydir. Hugo'nun lağımlarda bile romantik olan karakterlerine artık yer yoktur. Romantizmin ne yeri ne zamanı.

Duygusal Eğitim en nihayetinde bir aşk romanı. Romantizmi alınmış karakterlerden aşk hikayesi yazmak sıkıntılı olabilir yalnız. Emma Bovary'nin düştüğü duruma kimse düşmek istemez. Frederick'in romantik olmayı başardığı da söylenemez. On Dokuzuncu yüzyıl romanı evli kadınlar ile onlara tutkun ya da onları baştan çıkarmaya çalışan genç erkeklerin aşk hikayeleri ile doludur. Frederic'in tek hedefinin de Madam Arnaux'un kalbini çalmak olduğunu biz okurlar da, Madam Arnaux da biliyordu. Ama işte Frederick, Madame Bovary'nin Rodolphe'si gibi atak biri değil. Olsaydıydı da bir şey olmazdı zaten, çünkü Flaubert romantizmin ipliğini pazara çıkarmış çoktan...
Profile Image for Jeff Jackson.
Author 4 books478 followers
July 21, 2019
THIS BOOK. Some of the most consistently astonishing prose I've read - whether decadent all-night parties, violent street battles, or intimate scenes of friendship and love. Exquisite construction + moments of gut-punch emotion. A vibrant and still-modern book about illusions, youth, politics, failure. The artistic equivalent of a $200,000 bottle of wine. Surely one of the greatest novels ever written.
Profile Image for Dolors.
540 reviews2,278 followers
March 19, 2013
An educational reading indeed, either spiritually or rationally speaking.
The novel talks about the life of a young man, Frederic, during the French Revolution and the founding of the French Empire in 1848. It is said that Frederic is in fact Flaubert himself telling about some real events in his life and of course about his platonic love for an older woman, in the book, called Mme Arnoux.
We are able to follow, with a somehow ironic and pessimistic tone, a different set of characters who live the important changes of the era, from the Republican idealist Sénecal to the well off banker Mr. Dambruese, passing several courtesans and artists on the way. The book combines highly advanced politics with almost philosophical wanderings such as existence and death , passion and love, morality and justice...
Each character represents an icon, Mme Arnoux, unattainable perfection; Rosannette, troubled and used courtesan; Deslauries, ambitious and envious middle class lawyer; all of them combine into a well constructed scenery which engulfs you into the story, even if you don't want to.
The book left me wondering if a man is to be judged by the result of his actions or by his good intentions. The answer might not be as easy as it seems after you've read Frederic's story.
A book that shouldn't be missed by those who appreciate a smart and eloquent reading. I think this work outperforms Flaubert's "Madame Bovary".
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