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Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes

Flaubert's Parrot (1984)

by Julian Barnes

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,254632,604 (3.68)1 / 307
Recently added bysylugas, rena75, DeboraNunes, JohnDyer076, private library, Sebastian-sarti
Legacy LibrariesDavid Robert Jones, Eeva-Liisa Manner
  1. 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!
  2. 10
    The Fiction of Julian Barnes (Readers' Guides to Essential Criticism) by Vanessa Guignery (KayCliff)
  3. 10
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (JuliaMaria, KayCliff)
    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
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Two inhibited, unreliable narrators
  5. 10
    Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (the_awesome_opossum)
  6. 00
    Something to Declare by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
  7. 00
    The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels have self-deluded narrators using strategies of deferral and digression.
  8. 00
    The Conjuror's Bird by Martin Davies (bergs47)
  9. 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 (56)  Spanish (4)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (63)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
It's a book about Flaubert's books (mainly Bovary), very clever with a very particular style which in some points makes it boring, but if you read it up to the end you are rewarded. Barnes reveals the Flaubert's Parrot secret closing his eye to the reader. In life we believe as true what we want to believe. Truth is subjective. ( )
  dimi777 | May 1, 2019 |
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barns was both a difficult and strange read for me. It is a combination of a literary critique of Gustave Flaubert as well as a novel that deals with the mystery of obsession and betrayal. Geoffrey Braithwaite is a retired doctor and appears to on a quest to examine all things “Flaubert”. He seems determined to find the answer to obscure things such as which of two stuffed parrots was Flaubert’s actual inspiration for one of his stories or why Flaubert kept changing the color of Emma Bovary’s eyes. Unfortunately the doctor is such a colorless character that I easily lost interest in him and found he faded into the pages.

I may have done this book a disservice as I haven’t read anything by Flaubert so many observations and quotes went over my head but overall I found Flaubert’s Parrot to be a bizarre and pointless alternative biography. I have read and enjoyed Julian Barnes in the past and I know he has a great sense of witty humor but with all the strange quirky facts about Flaubert that are stuffed into this book, I couldn’t help but wonder if we, the readers are the butt of his joke.

Flaubert’s Parrot was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1984 and many people love this book, but for me this particular piece of metafiction just didn’t work. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Oct 12, 2018 |
This is part of the 1000 books to read before you die list. I only made it to page 28. It was too boring and I hate history. It's basically a fiction history of Gustave Flaubert. Yup don't really care about him. I liked Madame Bovary but that's about it. This book didn't keep my interest.
  booklover3258 | May 29, 2018 |
Okay. This was good. Not as good as "History of the World" or "The Sense of an Ending", but I enjoyed it. I love Barnes' humor and analytical mind. Maybe it would've been better if I'd read Flaubert's "Madam Bovary" prior to reading this. I would've understood it better.
So, I'm torn between giving it 4 or 5 stars. So I'll give this 4 stars, read "Madam Bovary" and maybe read this again to see if something had changed.

Update: I've decided to give it 5 stars.
2nd read: July 21-22 ( )
  aljosa95 | Mar 27, 2018 |
The [a:Julian Barnes|1462|Julian Barnes|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1242364645p2/1462.jpg] love-on continues. I've got [b:Arthur & George|879412|Arthur & George|Julian Barnes|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320498966s/879412.jpg|2270654] up next and look forward to it. As ever, Barnes brings in such an English self-consciousness and, as ever, cannot resist that urge to delve into something like crime fiction at the end. I was never very interested in Flaubert as far as dead authors go, but Barnes brings out the most interesting elements. What I loved best was that he critiques the academic approach to approaching authors and their writings and instead speaks entirely as an enthusiast. Certain lines really confirmed for me feelings and thoughts I've entertained over the years I've been immersed in literary academia. There were many times while reading this, often on the bus or otherwise in public, where I could not resist a sudden bright smile as he delivered yet another clever line or hilarious little twist. I don't imagine I'll ever be through with reading Barnes. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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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
To Pat
First words
Six North Africans were playing boules beneath Flaubert's statue.
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.
The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonourably. foolishly, viciously.
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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)

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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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