INTIMATE NOTEBOOK, 1840-1841 by Gustave Flaubert


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Expectedly Francis Steegmuller has translated, annotated and provided a graceful introduction to this scrap of a scrapbook, some sixty pages written by the young Flaubert in his eighteenth and nineteenth years. He has also given the provenance (via the daughter of Flaubert's protegee-niece) of the notebook never before published and indicated its importance; the comment of Chateaubriand (""The finest things that an author can put into a book are the feelings that come down to him, through memory, from the first days of his youth"") apply particularly to Flaubert. The diary alternates in a considerable moodswing from ""wild optimism to dreary negation""; gives many of Flaubert's tentative, later developed ideas on poetry, art, sensual pleasure, love, ambition--strongly fired, his repudiation of the bourgeois which would be so triumphantly affirmed in Madame Bovary (""Too bad that conservatives should be so despicable and republicans so stupid""). Flaubert admired Montaigne, and there are many epigrams worthy of him: ""Modesty, the proudest kind of groveling""; ""I believe nothing and am inclined to believe everything."" These add considerably to the peripheral pleasures of a minor work of a great master.

Publisher: Doubleday