Gustave Flaubert quotes

Gustave Flaubert photo
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Gustave Flaubert

Birthdate: 12. December 1821
Date of death: 8. May 1880

Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. He is known especially for his debut novel Madame Bovary , his Correspondence, and his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics. The celebrated short story writer Guy de Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert. Wikipedia

Photo: Unknown author / Public domain

Works

Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary
Gustave Flaubert
Sentimental Education
Sentimental Education
Gustave Flaubert
November
November
Gustave Flaubert
Memoirs of a Madman
Memoirs of a Madman
Gustave Flaubert
Salammbô
Gustave Flaubert

„Don't talk to me about your hideous reality! What does it mean — reality?“

—  Gustave Flaubert, book Sentimental Education

Pt. 1, Ch. 4
Sentimental Education (1869)
Context: Don't talk to me about your hideous reality! What does it mean — reality? Some see things black, others blue — the multitude sees them brute-fashion. There is nothing less natural than Michael Angelo; there is nothing more powerful! The anxiety about eternal truth is a mark of contemporary baseness; and art will become, if things go on in that way, a sort of poor joke as much below religion as it is below poetry, and as much below politics as it is below business. You will never reach its end — yes, its end! — which is to cause within us an impersonal exaltation, with petty works, in spite of all your finished execution.

„Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.“

—  Gustave Flaubert

Correspondence, Letters to Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie
Variant: Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educate themselves. No, read to live.
Context: Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educate themselves. No, read to live. (June 1857)

„Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.“

—  Gustave Flaubert

Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d'être violent et original dans vos œuvres. To Gertrude Tennant (December 25, 1876)
Correspondence
Variant: Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

Citát „There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.“

„Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.“

—  Gustave Flaubert

14 August 1853
Correspondence, Letters to Madame Louise Colet

„For some men, the stronger their desire, the more difficult it is for them to act.“

—  Gustave Flaubert, book Sentimental Education

Pt. 2, Ch. 3
Sentimental Education (1869)
Context: For some men, the stronger their desire, the more difficult it is for them to act. They are hampered by mistrust of themselves, daunted by the fear of giving offence; besides, deep feelings of affection are like respectable women; they are afraid of being found out and they go through life with downcast eyes.

„Exuberance is better than taste“

—  Gustave Flaubert, book Sentimental Education

Pt. 1, Ch. 4; the most famous portion of this statement is "Exuberance is better than taste…" [Mieux vaut l'exubérance que le goût.]
Sentimental Education (1869)
Context: Without ideality, there is no grandeur; without grandeur there is no beauty. Olympus is a mountain. The most effective monument will always be the Pyramids. Exuberance is better than taste; the desert is better than a streetpavement, and a savage is surely better than a hairdresser!

„She wanted to die, but she also wanted to live in Paris.“

—  Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Source: Madame Bovary

„Never touch your idols: the gilding will stick to your fingers.“

—  Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Source: Madame Bovary

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