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Gustave Flaubert Essay

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Updated: Jul 19th, 2019

The introduction: the writer’s masterpiece or how Flaubert’s career started

First of all, I would like to point out that the novel, which brought popular French writer fame was written in 1857. It was Madame Bovary. Generally, the impact of the writer’s book on the critics’ opinion is quite ambiguous. The novel brought the writer not only the success, but it also caused an enormous scandal. According to the data of the popular website Duke.edu, “the imperial prosecutor accused Flaubert of publishing a novel offensive to public morality and religion” (1).

The thesis statement

Gustave Flaubert is one of the most well-known Western novelists. The peculiar feature of Flaubert’s success is that his career and personal life are interdependent. There is a position that the writer’s literary fame depended upon other French writers.

The body: Gustave Flaubert’s life and career


They say that Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is a symbol of the realism movement. “Flaubert’s writing was meticulous and his styles have been mimicked by many other authors around the world” (Unc.edu 1).

Medical and bourgeoisie background are the most important components the novel is based on. However, these key issues are related to Flaubert’s origin, as “His father was the chief surgeon and clinical professor at Rouen’s Hotel-Dieu hospital. His mother’s father was also a doctor” (Unc.edu 1).

A French writer’s philosophical work appeared due to Alfred Le Poittevin, who was a pessimistic philosopher. His worldview impacted on Flaubert’s comprehension of a reality. Popular writer didn’t recognize all authority and relied on his own judgment.

When Gustave was twenty he entered the Faculty of Law in Paris. However, two years later “his studies withered as he suffered from laziness and epilepsy” (Unc.edu 2). He decided to devote his life to literature. “Flaubert would also become very concerned with aesthetics, hence the long process of preparation he famously would go through for each work” (The European Graduate School 1).

The novels of Honoré de Balzac influenced the writer’s themes in literature. Thus, Gustave Flaubert seems to be the follower of another famous French writer. “Madame Bovary is clearly inspired by Balzac’s La Femme de trente ans” (The European Graduate School 1).

The conclusion: pros and cons of Gustave Flaubert’s literary style

Generally, it seems that the comments written by critics are rather contradictory. The fact that the writer’s masterpiece caused the prosecutor’s indignation is undisputable, as most people who are familiar with Flaubert’s productions understand the peculiarities as well as the importance of morality issues of the 19th century.

However, the opinion that Flaubert’s own manner to write has been mimicked is rather unclear and confused, as there is also a position that Flaubert used the literary techniques of another French writer Honoré de Balzac.

So, why some critics say that Flaubert’ style is unique; while, according to other sources, Flaubert’s style is just copied? There is a need to draw attention to the comment about Balzac’s La Femme de trente ans, which is considered to be the opposite opinion. So, the question about Flaubert’s originality is still to be discussed. It is evident that the writer is famous; however, his style can’t be regarded as unique.

Another contradictory point is the so-called aesthetics issue. For instance, Marshall C. Olds says:

While not foremost a Flaubert expert, Martine Bercot is a well-known dixneuvièmiste who has been able to establish, in her copious notes, a network of references highlighting Flaubert’s indebtedness to other writers, the development of his aesthetic over the 10 year period through the completion of Madame Bovary, and the myriad thematic, structural and even lexical prefigurations of much of Flaubert’s work to come (261).

So, the fact that Flaubert was concerned with aesthetics should be considered differently, as Gustave relied on other writer’s positions and techniques. Thus, his own aesthetic is not independent; it had derived from other writer’s literary methods.

The point which causes a misunderstanding is different information written in various sources, including educational ones. Thus, it is not so easy to understand what sources are considered to be reliable.

Works Cited

Duke.edu. Gustave Flaubert, 2008. Web.

Olds, Marshall. Martine Bercot, 1994. Web.

The European Graduate School. Gustave Flaubert – Biography, n.d. Web.

Unc.edu. Madame Bovary, n.d. Web.

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"Gustave Flaubert." IvyPanda, 19 July 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/gustave-flaubert/.

1. IvyPanda. "Gustave Flaubert." July 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gustave-flaubert/.


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IvyPanda. 2019. "Gustave Flaubert." July 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gustave-flaubert/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Gustave Flaubert'. 19 July.

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