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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Flaubert

Eventually you have to wonder: what's the significance of Frederic's fascination w Mme Arnoux? He sees her initially as like a vision and spends what seems like the next year or maybe two in Paris trying to get her to notice him. He insinuates himself into M Arnoux's art and publishing circle all w the intention of knowing his wife. Over time he more or less abandons his legal studies and becomes increasingly indifferent to his lifelong best friend, Deslaurier - borrowing money from him that he cannot afford to loan - to buy stupid prints from Arnoux only To remain close to the wife. I could go on , but what's the point of his action? First, he's attracted to her because of her exotic looks - worshipping someone different and distant, a break fro all of the conventional expectations and obligations of his family- and because she is unavailable: he's so inexperienced at love and at relationships that he attaches to a person whom he can never hope - at least at this stage of love - to engage w in any serious manner. Second, he seems to be in search of 3 things: a mother, a father, and a family. It's significant that he first glimpsed her on the boat as a madonna-like figure caring for her young daughter. We sense that F's mother was cold and indifferent, always worried about money and pushing F toward success in a public career. Also significant that he always approaches her by means of her husband- the many dinners and salon invited and business dealings w the affable arnoux may be the real point of his obsession: he wants a father (never having known his own) and maybe wants to be "married" to arnoux. Which is another way of saying that what he wants is incorporation into the Arnoux family- he is envious of the happiness he saw among them on the boat ride up the Seine, and perhaps jealous of their capacity to travel together for a month of so when he is traveling alone. He idealizes Mme Arnoux but that may be just a screen to protect his more unconventional yearnings from view; easier to pretend to be in love w the beautiful woman who is already"taken."

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