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

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Friday, July 7, 2017


The conclusion to part 2 of Flaubert's Sentimental Education is a classic, possibly the best example of cinematic that is montage-like naturalistic writing from the 19th century or from any era for that matter. Flaubert moves fluently among three narrative strands but not in a simplistic, ironic manner - rather each narrative strand complements the others and sharpens or perceptions about the character of the protagonist, Frederic Moreau, and about the culture in which he lives. Main narrative strand: F at last has gotten Mme arnoux to indicate that she loves him that she is tired of her troublesome husband and that she may be available. So F has rented and furnished a "love nest" and he sets up an appointment to meet Mme Arnoux and to secretly bring her to this abode. He by chance has set the assignation on a day that Paris is erupting w anti-royalist demonstrations so as he waits for her we hear gunshot and get occasional glimpses of the demonstrators - uncle F's friends. But he abandons his friends and any ideals he has left as he awaits Mme A and is furious that she does not show up. She is at home w her young boy who is near death from croup - and she comes to see this as a message from providence and vows to renounce the adulterous relationship she's almost entered. In the end F goes to the high-class prostitute, Rosannette, and declares he is no longer patient or gentlemanly - he flings himself on her and they have sex and he cries and says he's never been so happy. We have to wonder at this point if he had actually been virginal- or had some kind of sexual inhibitions or misfunctions (the end of the novel would suggest not). In any event by the end of this section we see his complete abnegation and solipsism - his indifference to the upheavals under way in his world, to the need of his so-called friends, and to the whole concept of marital and interpersonal fidelity.

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