Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Flaubert and Eternity


It's no wonder book people often get oppressed by their own book mania. It's a very quirky condition that non-readers probably can't fathom--but talk about your world wide web (little w's)! You innocently start by reading about the new Flaubert biography, which sounds really great if you like a well-written literary bio. Then you decide that it's been so long since you read Madame Bovary, it would be really fun to read them side-by-side. Then, you see that you could use a primer on French history as well, not to mention reading some of Flaubert's influences and works by contemporaries. All of which reminds you that you never got around to reading Rousseau even though he helped kick off the Romantic movement, or the seminal Romantic novel, Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. You see how this goes. Pretty soon you've got a list of books chronicling the entirety of Western literary culture, and the spectre of Death staring you in the face, because you know you can't possibly read all of that before you die. Which is depressing, of course, and brings up all that existential angst, and then you think, maybe Sartre...

2 comments:

Amir said...

When I was in college and forced to read Madame Bovary--I mean it was written by a frenchie right--I made an amazing discovery. While mindlessly flipping through the pages I encountered the "coach scene" which was probably the most erotic thing I had read in print that didn't start out "I never thought that this would happen to me."

Hey, isn't the picture from Lord Byron's Novel?

Selena said...

I think that painting is the Ur "Romantic" scene. It's been on the cover of many a Penguin classic, I think, and also the cover of John Crowley's novel. Here's the artist from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caspar_David_Friedrich