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A Simple Soul Paperback – June 17, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1419103346 ISBN-10: 1419103342

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419103342
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419103346
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,526,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), the younger son of a provincial doctor, briefly studied law before devoting himself to writing, with limited success during his lifetime. After the publication of Madame Bovary in 1857, he was prosecuted for offending public morals.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Robinson on August 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Gustave Flaubert (1821 to 1880) was a French writer who is still considered to be among the greatest western novelists. He authored Madama Bovary which is considered to be the perfectly balanced modern novel. That novel and the author's style and approach has been hailed by a range of writers and critics including, for example, Saul Bellow, who modeled his own novels from Flaubert's works. Fluabert's writings have been referenced by Nabokov and many others as being an inspiration to a whole century of Western writers, and helped to launch the age of realism in novels.

The present story comes from the 1877 publication Three Tales (Trois Contes. It consists of the short stories: Simple Heart, Saint Julian, and Herodias. Dance of Death is another story sometimes grouped with Simple Heart and Saint Julian as Three Short Works.

A Simple Heart was inspired by biographical events in Flaubert's own life: he lived in rural Normandy, he had problems with his studies similar to the character Paul, and he was prone to epileptic seizures similar to the protagonist Felicite.

I read the story first without looking at any analysis, made up my own mind, then read the analysis. What struck me was that Flaubert had crammed a whole lifetime of human emotions into a single very short story. That all by itself was impressive. How could someone come up with that idea? Amazing.

A Simple Heart, also called A Simple Soul or Un Coeur Simple, in French, is a story about a girl named Felicité. She is a servant who has lived with the same family ever since she was betrayed by her lover. She has a strong sense of loyalty and self sacrifice: she lives to help others.

This short story has been admired by many critics over the years and used as a basis or a source of inspiration for other stories.

This takes only an hour or so to read and is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) is recognized as a brilliant classical writer, known for his masterpiece "Madam Bovary." He is able to capture the essence of people and describe their personalities and behaviors in interesting ways. People should read classics such as Madam Bovary and this story; they are classics because they have value, withstood time, and are enjoyed even today.

This beautiful tale is filled with pathos. Flaubert explores the tragic and sad situation of many people who are simple, who lack sufficient intelligence to fully participate in life around them. They are ignored and secluded. The issue is addressed by theologians: Why would God create such people? How does God relate to them? The issue is addressed in the New Testament and by many novelists, such as I. L. Peretz in his masterpiece, the short story, "Bontshe the Silent."

This is the story of Felicite, a simple, uneducated woman with a low IQ, who is, as many simple people, perfect at what she does; she is the perfect maid, highly respected for her work, a maid everyone would be happy to have. We read about her first love and feel for her, and how she saves her mistress, but is then exploited. Flaubert describes her yearnings, fears, reactions to deaths, her sublimated and highly unusual love for a parrot, and her final extremely sad years. We read throughout about her reliance on religion, which we know she doesn't understand. Although not in this story, we can well imagine that if a devil existed he would be laughing in derision at how God allowed such a good simple soul to be mistreated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia VINE VOICE on May 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very brief little book - and it is hard to imagine that it is from the author of Madame Bovary! It traces the life of an uneducated, ignorant but strong and faithful French country woman who spent her life in service, both as a maid to the woman she worked for over many decades, and to the relative that she loved and finally even to her pet parrot. Her uneducated faith was her guiding principle and she was always an untiring worker. It will probably make you think of someone you have known - if you are lucky enough to have known such a person.
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By rave on May 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The piece was written with such moving beauty about a woman who is so loving and gentle. It has something to teach us in these harsh times when Mean Girls are all the rage.
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A charming and delicate life story of one servant-class woman. A character study with not much interest in the bourgeoisie, and less in the aristocracy.
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This is almost a word-for-word translation, but from famously elegant French into awkward English. There are even rather humorous misspellings and grammatical errors. Useful for the cheating student, but not good for someone who wants the flavor of Flaubert's prose.
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