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Book Title: L'educazione sentimentale|
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Reader ratings: 6.5
The author of the book: Gustave Flaubert
Date of issue: April 17th 2007
ISBN 13: 9788806188481
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.61 MB
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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.
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Read information about the authorGustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) 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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