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Flaubert's parrot by Julian Barnes
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Flaubert's parrot (original 1984; edition 1985)

by Julian Barnes

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,619None2,274 (3.67)167
Member:MrAndrew
Title:Flaubert's parrot
Authors:Julian Barnes
Info:London : Picador, 1985.
Collections:Read 2012, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:read 2012

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. 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.
  3. 10
    The Fiction of Julian Barnes (Readers' Guides to Essential Criticism) by Vanessa Guignery (KayCliff)
  4. 10
    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!
  5. 10
    Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (the_awesome_opossum)
  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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» See also 167 mentions

English (33)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Posmodernistički roman, katkad težak za pratiti, ali opet, ima dijelova koji sasvim ponesu svojim humorom, originalnošću, odličnom uporabom različitih formi koje razbijaju monotoniju izraza (popisi, zadaci za ispit, kronologije) i zanimljivim pogledom na Flaubertov život...uz malo i osobne tragedije glavnog pripovjedača...lako se prevariti i zamisliti ovo kao osobnu ispovijed autora, zbilja i fikcija su isprepletene (kao što obično i jest slučaj). Svakako ne odustati na prvoj prepreci.
( )
  Sanja_Sanjalica | Mar 14, 2014 |
This book supports my increasing belief that I am most likely to enjoy those books about which I know the least. Of course, I do need to know enough about a book or its author to choose it in the first place. Otherwise, I'm likely to stumble into one unappealing literary relationship after another. There has to be a vetting process of some kind.

In this case, there was a well-respected literary author with a long-in-print postmodern novel. It made reference to a long-dead author whom I've never read. And that was enough to allow me to fall into the book and not to question its unusual structure, its overall intent, or its specific critical reception. I just flat-out enjoyed it. It was unusual, yes, and it defied my narrative expectations. It flirted with the notion of uncovering a few minor historical mysteries of no more than academic consequence. But it amused and intrigued me. It seemed possessed of a mature point of view. It didn't fret and agitate and strive the way many contemporary books of my recent acquaintance have done. It did not come floating into my life on a tide of giddy adulation that made me think, by God, I'd better love the hell out of this if I'm going to make conversation about it amongst the very few readers I know.

None of that tells you very much, which is probably a good thing if you think you might read the book as well. Maybe you will like it a lot. Or maybe it will annoy you with its refusal to shovel ready answers at you or to make a full-throated declaration about its seriousness and its relevance and its undeniable claim to your rapt attention. For me, the lack of those things made the book all the more welcome. Revelations needn't be earth-shattering and ambiguity needn't be dispelled. Leave that to movies and television.

I will definitely return to read this book again, which is a rare thing for me to declare. If I'd read it when it was first published, who knows if I'd have said the same thing. Books can be that way. When you read them can be as important as what they contain. If you adore FLAUBERT'S PARROT a bit less than I did, perhaps you can chalk it up to a problem of timing. Or perhaps I've oversold it, and now it can't fail to disappoint. In that case, I'm sorry I mentioned it, but something needed to be said. ( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
It's really a 2. 5 star book for me, because I really enjoyed some parts and found other parts (and to some extent the whole concept) tedious. I think I would have preferred just to get Julian Barnes straight up on Flaubert: if you aren't really going to write a novel but rather a pastiche, a parody, an appreciation, a medley of parts and ideas and venting and quoting -- which package it as a novel, with a narrator and the thread of a plot? Why not just throw off the pretense and do your thing? I know, I know: it was 1984, it's an "anit-novel," and this was a pretty cool thing to do then. It is cool, and smart, but also kind of preening, and the apparatus of the book for me got too intrusive. Also (and I'm sure Barnes was self-conscious and deliberate about this), the comments in the book about truth and irony apply to the book itself:

"If you don't know what's true, or what's meant to be true, then the value of what isn't true, or isn't meant to be true, becomes diminished."

I don't know enough about Flaubert to know when Barnes (or Geoffrey Braithwaite) is really truly quoting from his letters or recounting what is known about his life accurately or reliably--and so the degree to which I can appreciate the value of what is or isn't true, and get the irony, when there's irony, is limited. How much of a problem is this? Some, anyway, though uncertainty is an appropriate condition for the reader of a novel that is so much about uncertainty. "Perhaps it was one of them." Perhaps.
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
Very peculiar biography of Flaubert written by a retired English doctor, Geoffrey Braithwaite. The doctor per example notices that as well in the house of the writer as in the museum there is a parrot displayed, which is claimed to have been the source of inspiration for Flaubert in one of his novels. The doctor investigates which parrot really was on the desk of Flaubert ….
Is a double biography, behind the biography of Flaubert, hides the biography of the doctor.

+
Magnificent, well written, funny
unique
gives envy to read the works of Flaubert

Conclusion:
Phenomenal and quirky biography of Flaubert. To have ( )
  albertkep | Feb 2, 2014 |
This is an odd book to review. Not quite a novel, it is more a biography of Gustave Flaubert, filled with some very interesting rants about literary critics, truth in fiction and with a tiny bit of a mystery thrown in. I thought some of the commentary about writing and the types of novels was clever and interesting, but seemed more appropriate as an article in a literay magazine. The essays are intermingled with a LOT of detail about Gustave Flaubert - more than I am personally interested in knowing. Not sure why this made the Booker prize short list or 1001 books to read before you die. It was well written, but seemed to ramble. ( )
  jmoncton | Dec 6, 2013 |
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Julian Barnesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:39 -0400)

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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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