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Sentimental Education (1869)

by Gustave Flaubert

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,649492,586 (3.81)102
Frederic Moreau is a law student returning home to Normandy from Paris when he first 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 their paths cross and re-cross over the years. Through financial upheaval, political turmoil and countless affairs, Mme Arnoux remains the constant, unattainable love of Moreau's life. Flaubert described his sweeping story of a young man's passions, ambitions and amours as 'the moral history of the men of my generation'. Based on his own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Educationblends love story, historical authenticity and satire to create one of the greatest French novels of the nineteenth century.… (more)
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English (34)  French (5)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
"Sentimental education" doesn’t refer to a schooling that is sentimental, but one that involves the education of the “sentiments,” which to the French meant what are quaintly called affairs of the heart. The protagonist, Frédéric, is the embodiment of a callow, feckless youth, but in the course of the tale, he matures to the point at which he admires himself for the callous rogue he has become, then a rueful middle-aged man who regrets, but is not crushed by, his failures.
His companions are a collection of inept types: A lawyer who can’t win a case, a painter who dithers and dabbles, a journalist who babbles, and an assortment of effete, empty-headed noblemen. At times, I wearied of Flaubert’s pitiless skewering of their pretensions. He began to seem like one of those novelists who doesn’t like any of the people he describes. But as the book draws to a close, there is a sort of reconciliation on the part of Frédéric with what he and his friends have failed to achieve.
Flaubert doesn’t hide the foibles of the women in Frédéric’s life either, yet they come off better than the men. It takes a long time for Frederic to bed one of them. When it happens, it is to the counterpoint of distant gunfire. This is followed by one of the longest chapters in the book. Frederic flees to Fontainbleu with his mistress. Readers used to best-sellers of our day containing twists and turns that cause us to rapidly turn the page as the plot unfolds may grow impatient here, but I thought it was brilliant. An idyll on the old royal stomping grounds while the revolution of 1848 rages in Paris.
I started reading this in the Doris Knowles translation that one can find for free on the internet, or packaged as a book for a price. I quickly put it aside; it was overly literal and awkward. There seem to be at least three recent translations that are better, on the basis of samples I read online, but could find only this one, by Adrienne Tooke, in a Kindle edition. Even here, I had to be careful. On the Amazon page offering the paperback version, there is a link to a Kindle edition, but this turned out to be the Knowles translation. Caveat emptor!
Before long, however, I became curious to compare it with the French original. The large number of vividly drawn personages and their comic actions come across well enough in translation, but I read each chapter a second time, in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade edition of Flaubert’s works in order to catch the author’s mastery of language. This meant it took me a long time to finish the book, as it takes me nearly three times as long to read French, but it was worth it. A magnificently rich book.
( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
The story of youth, this is a great example of how someone acts when they grow up simply with the morality given to them by the society they emerge from. It’s a tale not how a character remains true to values that are immovable but rather subject to the vicissitudes of emotion, lust and the winds of circumstance.

As such, I think our protagonist Frederic is to be pitied. He has no understanding of values such as loyalties or real love. The writing brilliantly characterises Frederic. He’s someone to whom every reader to some extent will relate.

But the fact that, in the end, his most treasured memory is that of a visit to a brothel pretty much sums up his life. As with Bel Ami, which it must have influenced, the man has lived solely for his loins.

The novel clearly describes contemporary Parisian society with its hypocrises and hedonism and is very well written, and it’s rightly a classic in describing an era that was a turning point for an entire nation.

The swollen bellies of the likes of Frederic would soon prompt a revolution to define all revolutions and Flaubert was setting out to do the same for literature. Traces of this can be seen all over French literature; I saw Germinal everywhere. ( )
  arukiyomi | Oct 7, 2020 |

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.....

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/sentimental-education-by-g... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |

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.....

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/sentimental-education-by-g... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |

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.....

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/sentimental-education-by-g... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (87 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Flaubert, GustaveAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baldick, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bernard, ClaudieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bogan, LouiseIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burlingame, PerditaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dupee, F. W.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gimferrer, PereTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hannigan, D. F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollo, J. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kelk, C.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martí i Pol, MiquelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pape, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ranous, Dora KnowlesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Romano, LallaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rustum, KathleenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stap, Ton van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Todó, Lluís MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tooke, AdrianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wall, GeoffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zalm, Cees van deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the morning of 15 September 1840 the Ville de Montereau was lying alongside the quai Saint-Bernard belching clouds of smoke, all ready to sail.
First, the title: sentimental in the sense of allowing feeling to predominate over reason or deliberately indulging in emotions is a familiar concept and although Frédéric Moreau's family and school upbringing is very staid, his personal education through his taste for poverty and novels primarily concerned with passionate love must certainly predispose him to lead a life excessively swayed by sentiment rather than reason. (Introduction)
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La maggior parte degli uomini che erano presenti avevano servito almeno quattro governi; e avrebbero venduto la Francia o il genere umano per garantire il loro patrimonio, risparmiarsi un disagio, una difficoltà, o anche semplicemente per bassezza, per adorazione istintiva del potere. Tutti dichiararono ingiustificabili i delitti politici. Bisognava piuttosto perdonare quelli che provenivano dal bisogno. E non mancarono di citare l'eterno esempio del padre di famiglia che ruba l'eterno pezzo di pane all'eterno fornaio.
[dalla Nota del traduttore (Lalla Romano)] L'effetto del linguaggio flaubertiano è quello di una vibrante, cangiante, infinita monotonia. … "L'educazione” non piacque, e Flaubert ne soffrì. … È probabile che questa «storia di un giovane», delle sue perplessità, gaffes, trasporti e delusioni, generosità e vigliaccherie, continui a deludere qualcuno; e analogamente il dover seguire il ritmo incalzante, rapido eppure monotono della narrazione, la casualità e insieme necessità degli intrecci.
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Frederic Moreau is a law student returning home to Normandy from Paris when he first 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 their paths cross and re-cross over the years. Through financial upheaval, political turmoil and countless affairs, Mme Arnoux remains the constant, unattainable love of Moreau's life. Flaubert described his sweeping story of a young man's passions, ambitions and amours as 'the moral history of the men of my generation'. Based on his own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Educationblends love story, historical authenticity and satire to create one of the greatest French novels of the nineteenth century.

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Frederic Moreau is a law student returning home to Normandy from Paris when he first 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 their paths cross and re-cross over the years. Through financial upheaval, political turmoil and countless affairs, Mme Arnoux remains the constant, unattainable love of Moreau's life. Flaubert described his sweeping story of a young man's passions, ambitions and amours as 'the moral history of the men of my generation'. Based on his own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Education blends love story, historical authenticity and satire to create one of the greatest French novels of the nineteenth century.
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