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Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0140435825 ISBN-10: 0140435824

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435825
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This 1972 volume was gleaned from Flaubert's diaries, letters, and travel notes. It reconstructs an 1849 trip to Egypt, Cairo, and the Red Sea area.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

This book is an account of the Egyptian portion of the trip.
R. M. Peterson
This book has accounts from Flaubert's letters and travel notes during his adventure in Orient.
Edgar Tejada
There were jugglers and acrobats and those very feared persons, snake charmers.
Mary E. Sibley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Sibley VINE VOICE on July 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
In 1849 Gustave Flaubert was twenty eight. He had an air of athletic vigor. He was the son of a doctor. He had always written. At this point he had finished THE TEMPTATION OF SAINT ANTHONY. Friends suggested he use a story known to him, perhaps through his father, that became the basis for MADAME BOUVARY.
Maxime Du Camp accompanied Gustave to Egypt. France had maintained a controlling political interest in Egypt. Flaubert wrote that in Egypt everyone with clean clothes beats everyone with dirty clothes. Europeans were called Franks.
He wrote that the desert began at the gates of Alexandria. It is suggested that the very act of keeping a travel diary moved Flaubert from being a Romantic to becoming a Realist. There was a sunrise. They saw from the top of pyramids the valley of the Nile being bathed in mist.
The young men stared at the Sphinx. They visited the Coptic Church in Old Cairo. There were jugglers and acrobats and those very feared persons, snake charmers. Maxime Du Camp busied himself with photography throughout the trip. They saw dervishes. Flaubert described the water of the Nile. It was yellow and carried soil.
They took a trip down the Nile. They passed Luxor. The mountains were dark indigo. They arrived at Thebes. They saw towns whose buildings were made of dried mud. They saw and described dancing in their writings. They traveled to Assuan. Du Camp's photographic record of temples became famous. Flaubert reported to his mother that there always seemed to be a temple buried up to its shoulders in sand.
From Luxor to Karnak the great plain looked like an ocean. One's first impression of Karnak was that it was a place of giants. They went to the Red Sea at Koseir.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Having enjoyed "Salammbo," which is a technicolor sandals and swords Panavision epic a century before its time, I wondered about Flaubert's earlier travels in the fall of 1849 in the desert realm. He probably behaved no differently than any other twenty-seven-year-old aesthete from Europe among the natives, and this remains less an indictment of "orientalism" in our P.C.-sensitive era than a pair of journals by him and his companion Maxime du Camp, with commentary by the Flaubert expert Francis Steegmuller. Parts ramble on without a lot of interest, and other sections captivate you, but like any diary and the expanded journal entries made later by Flaubert, the work as a whole is more a miscellaneous notebook of impressions and observations, much as one might expect of this formidably articulate tourist.

I think the relatively few sexual episodes get, if understandably for their candor, too much of the attention here compared to the bulk of this slender book, which is given over to the sights. There's amidst the itinerary and dutifully recorded letters to his mother many marvelous descriptions. Not all were addressed to his mother! You get the sense of the languid pace of a brothel, an early visitor's curious wanderings among the colossal statues of Luxor or Thebes, the sun rising over the graffitied Pyramids, his first sight of the Sphinx-- Steegmuller's notes remind us how magical this would have been before the ubiquitous photographs-- and the decaying splendors of Karnak.

Here's a sample of the prose about this last attraction. "The first impression of Karnak is of a land of giants. The stone grilles still existing in the windows give the scale of these formidable beings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Philippe Landry on December 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Let me begin by giving you a great hug, holding my breath as long as possible, so that as I exhale onto this paper your spirit will be next to me."

This is the book I read the most. I read it at random, sometimes rereading passages I read only days ago. It's not the exoticism that allures but the colonial/imperial mind at work comprehending and quantizing the East. Read Said's Orientalism to better understand the situation under which these journals and letters were written. Flaubert cuts through Egypt like a shark, almost in on his own joke. Initially he seems to take a typically orientalist posture scandalizing the sexuality of the savages. Upon further investigation one can see that his tone is ambivalent yet cooly giddy at the thought of westerners being perturbed at such behaviour. It's almost as if he knows that the West is the oddball out and everyone else is normal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 1849, at age 28, Gustave Flaubert (who had not yet distinguished himself in literature) embarked on a trip to the "Orient", as it was then called. His traveling companion was Maxime Du Camp. From November 1849 to July 1850 they were in Egypt. From there they went on to Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. This book is an account of the Egyptian portion of the trip.

FLAUBERT IN EGYPT actually is a composite, assembled from several sources: Flaubert's own travel notes, in their original version and as later re-written by Flaubert (but never published); letters Flaubert sent from Egypt to his beloved mother and to his good friend Louis Bouilhet; and the papers and several publications of Du Camp. Francis Steegmuller has done a brilliant job of selecting, inter-weaving, and translating these various extracts, and then interpolating them with helpful and non-intrusive notes and commentary, so that the result is a very coherent and eminently readable travelogue.

True to its title, the book reveals as much about Gustave Flaubert as it does about Egypt, and to me they are equally engrossing and fascinating. Egypt of 1850 was an extraordinary and exotic place, and Gustave Flaubert was an extraordinary sojourner, highly receptive to the exotica of Egypt. His writing, as translated and edited by Steegmuller, is more literary, readable, and entertaining than that of Sir Richard Francis Burton, who began his famous travels and accounts a few years later, in the 1850s.

FLAUBERT IN EGYPT abounds with the odd, the colorful, the curious, and the grotesque.
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