Gustave Flaubert quotes

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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.

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

„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.

„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.

„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!

„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.

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