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FLAUBERT: The Making of the Master by Enid Starkie

FLAUBERT: The Making of the Master


Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1967
Publisher: Atheneum

Dr. Starkie's Flaubert is a work of the highest scholarship, the most thoroughgoing and balanced account of the novelist's life and art to appear in English. Drawing upon much previously unavailable material, Dr. Starkie alters a number of common beliefs--in his youth, for instance, Flaubert was not a poor scholar: ""On the contrary, what is astounding is the range of his reading..."" Nor was he a ""constipated"" author: ""We now realize that...he wrote with amazing fluency but that...he curbed his natural fluency, put obstacles in the way of its flow, and was then obliged to surmount them."" His great passion, of course, was for paper and pen: even the intense affair with Louise Colet was subjugated to it. After a break of three years, he resumed the relationship, ""just when he was planning Madame Bovary. It may have been a deliberate action on his part, because he needed her material for the creation of his heroine."" Flaubert's search for aesthetic perfection induced a kind of belief ""in the celibacy of the writer', not for reasons of chastity, but so that there should be no divided loyalties."" His life was dry, sacrificial, and often hermetic, yet through travels and fortuitous social and political events he experienced all that his brilliant eye and mind would crystallize in art: bourgeois inanity, the ironies of history, romantic decline. After Stendhal, his is the first truly modern temperament, the skeptic and the dreamer in mortal combat, the emblematic subject of a luminous master study. Dr. Starkie has, of course, among other works, done the longstanding definitive studies of Baudelaire and Rimbaud.