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Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
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Flaubert's Parrot (original 1984; edition 1990)

by Julian Barnes

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2,976581,921 (3.66)1 / 268
Member:mdplante
Title:Flaubert's Parrot
Authors:Julian Barnes
Info:Vintage (1990), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (1984)

  1. 20
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Two inhibited, unreliable narrators
  2. 20
    Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert (wrmjr66)
    wrmjr66: If you like Three Tales, you might enjoy Flaubert's Parrot, but if you like Flaubert's Parrot, you must read Three Tales!
  3. 10
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: "Madame Bovary, c'est moi": Wer also mehr über Flaubert erfahren möchte (und jeder und jede andere auch), sollte unbedingt diesen Klassiker lesen.
  4. 10
    Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (the_awesome_opossum)
  5. 10
    The Fiction of Julian Barnes (Readers' Guides to Essential Criticism) by Vanessa Guignery (KayCliff)
  6. 00
    The Conjuror's Bird by Martin Davies (bergs47)
  7. 01
    Gesammelte Werke. 8 Bände. Schriften zur Literatur. by Jean-Paul Sartre (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Was können wir über Flaubert wissen, hat sich auch Sartre gefragt und in "Der Idiot der Familie" beantwortet. Es handelt sich um eine mehrbändige (!) Biografie vermischt mit philosophischen und psychoanalytischen Betrachtungen.
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English (51)  Spanish (3)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (57)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Fantastic and enjoyable novel providing musings and alternate narratives of Flaubert's life. ( )
  kale.dyer | Feb 23, 2017 |
I have not read Madame Bovary so it took me a while to ' twig ' this story. That said I loved it and I am most definitely going to read Madame Bovary as a result of my experience in this read. I love any bookish or literary stories and so this one was perfect with an introduction to Flaubert and his work and Barnes easy style. I did keep forgetting this was a novel and not a biography which probably confused the issue for me a bit but all in all a very encouraging read which leaves me wanting more of Flaubert and possibly more of Julian Barnes. ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Feb 5, 2017 |
Disappointing. Superficial faits-divers about Flaubert, presented by a fictional character, instead of the author himself. Why? It adds to the uncertainty about what is authentic and what is not, which is the message of the book: you cannot know the past. Message repeated over and over again. Dull. The best parts are the citations of Flaubert, so better read his work instead! ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
Geoffrey Braithwaite is a retired doctor who calls himself an amateur Flaubert scholar. His life is actually pretty consumed by Flaubert. He seeks out any information on the author, professional or private, delving into Flaubert's worst moments of cruelty, doubt and financial hardships. Braithwaite really enjoys passing on all the gossip, yet he accepts Flaubert's faults and even champions characteristics that other would see as negatives.

A unique book, one that forces the reader to jump between subjects and writing styles, and between fiction with a lot of non-fiction strewn about too. The text is littered with actual quotes or diary entries within the story. There's a chapter of Braithwaite discussing a professor named Dr. Enid Starkie, whom he'd heard lecture and whom he disliked because of her opinions on Flaubert. I looked her up to see if this was a fictional character, but nope, she was a real person.
I'm glad I came across the group read of this, otherwise who knows when I would have gotten to this one. It's really a smart, and fun, book. ( )
  mstrust | Sep 5, 2016 |
This was quite a difficult book to read and difficult to classify too. It is very academic in parts, very personal in others - it pops around a lot and becomes quite obscure in places. In spite of all this, it seems to work. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Jul 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
When you write the biography of a friend,
you must do it as if you were taking revenge for him.

Flaubert, letter to Ernest Feydeau, 1872
Dedication
To Pat
First words
Six North Africans were playing boules beneath Flaubert's statue.
Quotations
Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where they aren’t.
On the site there now stands a large paper-mill ... The vast paper factory was churning away on the site of Flaubert's house. I wandered inside; they were happy to show me round. I gazed at the pistons, the steam, the vats and the slopping trays: so much wetness to produce something so dry as paper. I asked my guide if they made any sort of paper that was used for books; she said they made every sort of paper. The tour, I realized, would not prove sentimental. Above our heads a huge drum of paper, some twenty feet wide, was slowly tracking along on a conveyor. It seemed out of proportion to its surroundings, like a piece of pop sculpture on a deliberately provoking scale. I remarked that it resembled a gigantic roll of lavatory paper; my guide confirmed that this was exactly what it was.
Literature includes politics, and not vice versa. Novelists who think their writing an instrument of politics seem to me to degrade writing and foolishly exalt politics. No, I'm not saying they should be forbidden from having political opinions or from making political statements. It's just that they should call that part of their work journalism. The writer who imagines that the novel is the most effective way of taking part in politics is usually a bad novelist, a bad journalist, and a bad politician.
When she dies, you are not at first surprised. Part of love is preparing for death. ... Afterwards comes the madness. And then the loneliness. ... Other people think you want to talk ... you find the language of bereavement foolishly inadequate.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679731369, Paperback)

Just what sort of book is Flaubert's Parrot, anyway? A literary biography of 19th-century French novelist, radical, and intellectual impresario Gustave Flaubert? A meditation on the uses and misuses of language? A novel of obsession, denial, irritation, and underhanded connivery? A thriller complete with disguises, sleuthing, mysterious meetings, and unknowing targets? An extended essay on the nature of fiction itself?

On the surface, at first, Julian Barnes's book is the tale of an elderly English doctor's search for some intriguing details of Flaubert's life. Geoffrey Braithwaite seems to be involved in an attempt to establish whether a particularly fine, lovely, and ancient stuffed parrot is in fact one originally "borrowed by G. Flaubert from the Museum of Rouen and placed on his worktable during the writing of Un coeur simple, where it is called Loulou, the parrot of Felicité, the principal character of the tale."

What begins as a droll and intriguing excursion into the minutiae of Flaubert's life and intellect, along with an attempt to solve the small puzzle of the parrot--or rather parrots, for there are two competing for the title of Gustave's avian confrere--soon devolves into something obscure and worrisome, the exploration of an arcane Braithwaite obsession that is perhaps even pathological. The first hint we have that all is not as it seems comes almost halfway into the book, when after a humorously cantankerous account of the inadequacies of literary critics, Braithwaite closes a chapter by saying, "Now do you understand why I hate critics? I could try and describe to you the expression in my eyes at this moment; but they are far too discoloured with rage." And from that point, things just get more and more curious, until they end in the most unexpected bang.

One passage perhaps best describes the overall effect of this extraordinary story: "You can define a net in one of two ways, depending on your point of view. Normally, you would say that it is a meshed instrument designed to catch fish. But you could, with no great injury to logic, reverse the image and define the net as a jocular lexicographer once did: he called it a collection of holes tied together with string." Julian Barnes demonstrates that it is possible to catch quite an interesting fish no matter how you define the net. --Andrew Himes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:43 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In an Appalachian city recovering from a plague called the Crumble, Anna waits for her friend's return and the plague's sole survivor Rory finds his solitary life interrupted by Eugenio, who is investigating the cause of the catastrophe.

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