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

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Part 3 of Flaubert's Sentimental Education strikes a new tone as the first chapter focuses on the revolution in the street. Frederic at least for the first 20 pages or so has no direct or participatory role; rather, he is our point of view onto the revolutionary events - some of which are bloody and cruel. Flaubert seems to be a writer of omniscience but that's not quite correct; his omniscient descriptions of place, setting, character, and milieu are always mediated - Flaubert gives us in heightened form what his characters would see all around them but of course could never capture in language (part of the joke: Frederic has dreams of becoming a writer tho it's obvious he will always be a dilettante). The exceptions in Flaubert's narrative style, the few moments when has as author speaks directly to the reader, are therefore all the more striking bcz of their rarity as well as their beauty and precision - such as the famous aside in Mme Bovary about a mirror carried along beside a highway or about a writer pounding an a drum for bears to dance to when he wanted to move the stars. In Sentimental Education the 3rd section has F observe how each of his coterie has been engaged in the revolutionary actions- and for the first time in the novel F begins to think about others and about the forces that oppress others in his society - the beginning of his attaining self-knowledge, however painful and belated.

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