Flaubert's Parrot

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011

Flaubert 's Parrot deals with Flaubert, parrots, bears and railways; with our sense of the past and our sense of abroad; with France and England, life and art, sex and death, George Sand and Louise Colet, aesthetics and redcurrant jam; and with its enigmatic narrator, a retired English doctor, whose life and secrets are slowly revealed.

Thi compelling weave of horro and imaginatively ordered fact, Flaubert 's Parrot is by turns moving and entertaining, funn and scholarly, and tour de force of seductive originality
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
Flaubert's Parrot
Publication Date
Published November 27th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1984

Public Commentary

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We get all the usual biographical info on Flaubert we expect, but it ’ s organized in chapters such as one on the various olors of Madame Bovary ’ s eyes in the book.

Barnes threads the book with the fictitious biographer ’ s concern for, and meditation on, his wife dying of an illness.

Anothe chapter itled “ The Train-Spotter ’ s Guide to Flaubert ” features Flaubert ’ s thoughts on trains, how they figured in his ovels, and one house that he lived in, visible from the tracks.

“ The Flaubert Bestiary ” chapter features his pets, animals in is stories, and how they were connected to animals he owned, and the parrot!

Flaubert at times claimed he was nnoyed at the overbearing fame of Madame Bovary that overshadowed his other work.

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A essa is biography of Gustave Flaubert written by the Francophile Julian Barnes.Or may be s, may be this is a ointless story of a daughter and retired doctor, Geoffrey Braithwaite, who is as obsesse with Flaubert as is his creator.Or if we hav to get intellectual, is this a satirical meditation on writing, on reading, on the concept of gaining a deeper glimps into the literary output of an author by studying his life, or ven on the irremediably fictional nature of being ble to access another person at all? Or is it the story of the whereabouts of Loulou, Flaubert ’ s stuffed parrot that sat at his desk while he wrote Un Coeur simple? So, how would I parrot Julian Barnes and write this review about my understanding of Flaubert ’ s Parrot?

It is labeled as Stuffed Parrot on Wooden Perch, 1936.

I know he would gree, though, that the most beautiful passage in his book is his quote of Flaubert.

Wil it be attempted, or hould I stick with just his Perfect Parrot and continue looking for Perfect Review? FUNNY- TOYThis being a book ritten by Barnes, it is peppered with his unmistakable clever witticism.

But I ’ ll have to dmit that I did laugh out loud several times.TRIPARTITE – ChronologyMay be because he choose to cater for all tastes, Barnes, or is it Braithwaite, presents three different chronologies of Flaubert ’ s life.

And hould I choose the blue parrot? MODERNIST – MultiplicityThe three chronologies indicate that Barnes is aware of multiplicity of viewpoints.

He ca have written many more works, but given his highly engaged way of labouring over his novels, and massiv amount of research he undertook for each, these ghosts of ideas had to remain just as shadows of never-to-be books.WHY the PARROT? What I think Barnes does not address is why Flaubert had a stuffed parrot on his desk?

These paintings may give as an idea in which way they thought of them.Courbet 's: And Delacroix 's: In the nd, though, with all my parroting, I do howeve hink I have given you a real bird nor have you learnt much about parrots.

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What happens is that a dull kind of guy mooches about France collecting biographical data about the sainted Flaubert, one of handful of authors about Not One Bad Word Has Ever Been Spoken.

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You are being shown celestial things and " the sky is a theater of possibilities " ( 83)! " Flaubert 's Parrot, " I shit you not, LITERALLY grabs the reader by the lapels and yells brilliant miscellany right at his face.

A, to my nowledge, is he fourt boo to EVER do this -- to affect the brain and heart and lungs alike.And what, finally is Flaubert 's Parrot?

( Shivers down the back ...) EXTRA: Here are just two of my favourit things maestro Flaubert once wrote: ( and of course, they deal with class& society:) " The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the peasantr. " and " The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonorably, foolishly, viciously. " ... Thanks Barnes-dude.

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I giv eeling that while Julian Barnes was stalking his favourite author, he found so many oddities and pleasing coincidences ( les perroquets!) that he kept a journal entitled “ Cool shit I know about Flaubert and other musings ” which became this book.The obsession rubs off.

They set more store by the crutches than the legs. ”- Gustave Flaubert ( via Julian Barnes, now via me in a goodreads review you are ow reading) -- -- --- “ Why does writing make us chase the writer?

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Geoffrey Braithwaite, a doctor with three children, takes a vacation to Rouen in France to pay tribut to his literary hero, Gustave Flaubert, most famously known for his novel Madame Bovary.

On this pilgrimage, Dr. Braithwaite is stimulated to think of the many arguments and critiques of his hero and we are drawn along with him.

It is said that Flaubert borrowed this parrot from the Museum so he could further study “ parrotism ” while he rites the story.

But instead the aim of Un Coeur simple is quite elsewhere: the parrot is a perfect and controlled example of the Flaubertian grotesque.While in a booksho, Dr. Braithwaite hears, through a fellow named Ed Winterton, of the existence of letters between Flaubert and a governess who had left France to live in England.

There is a section of brief biographical notes, a section of arguments with various points critics of Flaubert have made, a section of highlights A to Z in the life of Flaubert, and not many differen little landscapes to discover.At one point Geoffrey Braithwaite states: ” What happened to the truth is not recorded. ” From his vantage point of just over a hundred years after Flaubert ’ s dyin, it is bette than ever to gather together facts from the sources remaining.Flaubert wrote to Du Camp: ‘ Pride is one thing: a wild beast which lives in caves and roams the desert; Vanity, on the other hand, is a parrot which hops from branch to branch and chatters away in full view. ’ In reading his surviving letters and his ooks, are we truly any wiser about who the real Gustave Flaubert was?

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One can kno that Barnes had fun writing this alternative biography of the renowne French riter, using his stuffed parrot to concoct a colorful tapestry of interspersed anecdotes with metaliterary intention, ironic finesse and the savoir faire of a virtuous ventriloquist.The fictitious narrator Doctor Geoffrey Braithwaite scrutinizes the correspondence between Flaubert and his net of acquaintances and a sample of pompous academic miscellania to ( mis-) construct his own idea about the autho ’ s life, or eve, he presents the evidence and allows the reader to ake his own ssumptions in quite a burlesque style.The result of this rigorous exploration is the vivid image of an amiabl, stubborn, contradictory, scatological, decadent but fiercely intelligent artist, hungry for the hedonistic pleasures of life but sceptic about its purpose.

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I would n't be urprised, after all, the previous six Barnes books I listened to this year were of the highest quality- always extremely eloquent.

It is primarily about Flaubert ( I knew virtuall nothing about the famous French novelis, although I promised myself that this is the year I finally read Madame Bovary).

My love affair with Barnes continues and it stays interesting and challenging- but in th good sense of way.NB: Richard Morant, the arrator of this audiobook, was goo.

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What we et, though, is n't eally much of a biography at all, more the musings of a an called Geoffrey Braithwaite, who has a long-term obsession with the Frenchman and would like to rite the definitive life, but inds himself verwhelmed by the wealth of material, none of which is to be trusted.

When writing the biography of th satirist, is his work a legitimate source of material to make ssumptions about the an, even if he does famously, infamously say " Madame Bovary, c'est moi "?

Therefore, it 's ot about parrots, or Flaubert, but about biographies and how to rite them?

So it goes further, again: thi nove that is n't about parrots, or Flaubert, or his works, or Geoffrey Braithwaite, or the art of biography, or writing generally, but in fact manages to tell you an awful lot about ll of hose ways, within 190 pages.

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© Nicole Waggonner