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

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Flaubert

It seems as if Flaubert's Sentimental Education will end before it has a chance to begin as the protagonist, Fredoric, leaves Paris and returns home to his mither's house in what must be Normandy: he learns from his mother that his expected inheritance will be much less than he'd thought, he feels shamed and deprived by this loss and determines he cannot possibly lead the life of leisure in Paris and vie for the attention of Mme Arnoux. He settles into a job as a law clerk and does poorly - a huge disappointment to his mother and others who'd expected great things from him. Interesting to speculate on how many Frederics Flaubert must have known as he devoted himself to writing in his native town in Normandy. There must have been so many in his time - and ours - who went off to the city w "great expectations" and returned to settle unhappily into Provincial life. At this point in the move Frederic maybe in a sense the male v of Mme Bovary - feeling stifled and unappreciated in a provincial town. We begin to see what Flaubert meant by madame Bovary c'est moi: maybe he set out to establish this identification more directly in at least part 1 of SE. One other oddity toward the end of part 1 is federic's brief flirtation w m rocque's daughter, who is 12! He can't be serious about her but does ask to kiss her and allow her to visit in his bedroom - obviously he is stirring up her sexual fantasies - and then he drops her suddenly when he comes into an unexpected inheritance and leaves again for Paris. She is left behind in tears and bewilderment- perhaps to suffer for him as he has for the equally unattainable Mme Arnoux.

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