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Salambo (Berkley Medallion Book BG-73) Mass Market Paperback – 1955

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Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT (1821-1880), French novelist and one of the masters of nineteenth-century fiction, was born in Rouen, the second son of a noted physician. Beset by ill health and personal misfortune, he led a solitary life of rigid discipline, which was reflected in his writing by his obsession with finding le mot juste (exactly the right word). His first published novel was Madame Bovary (1857). When certain passages in Madame Bovary were judged to be offensive to public morals, Flaubert, his publisher, and his printer were tried, but acquitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Pub. Corp (1955)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007FX6OU
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,499,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By ivan fernandez cabrera on July 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
It seems at least surprising why Flaubert, a master of Realism, spent several years writing this novel placed in Carthago. At his time it was a very controversial issue, even though celebrated by critics and public, because of its sensuality which was criticised by eminent archaeologists. Gustave Flabert had made a very careful research, including several travels to Tunisia to figure out the exact settings of his plot, and thus he defended his work firmly. In the end, years afer, many of his proposals turned out to be certain. He took up this exhausting job in order to fulfill his taste for the exotic and even the grotesque in life. The main theme of the novel is the revolt of the mercenaries engaged by Carthago througout the Punic Wars against Rome. This army was formed by a bizarre variety of men from all over the Mediterranian lands, and like every army, they were loved at war and feared at peace. The novel begins with a feast given to honour their many years of sacrifice and loyalty. But soon after they are put apart to an inner region, feared by the citizens of the capital city. It is also the story of Matho, a Libian soldier, and Salambo, the Princess from Carthago. But this is just the starting line for Flaubert's displaying of his careful seek for the right word, le mot juste, and his amazing talent for showing the inner motivations of his characters. Summing up, this is a wonderful historic novel which does not only stand on long forgotten facts but on the rich depth of his characters. That is what makes it contemporary and close.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Edward on October 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Perhaps wearied by his years in the company of the pathetic bourgeoise Emma Bovary, Gustave Flaubert chose as his next creation what may be the most extravagantly exotic novel ever written, "Salammbô". The critic Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve called it "this laboriously artistic work" and the book, published in 1863, does require a great deal of patience from its readers. To begin with, there is the esoteric vocabulary: a suffete is a judge with tyrannical power, a hierodule is a temple slave, and the all-important zaïmph is a holy veil, the theft of which causes many problems for the main characters. Most of these characters are historical, such as Matho, Spendius, Hanno and the great Hamilcar himself. Hannibal appears as a ten-year old boy, saved from ritual sacrifice to the ravenous god Moloch by the ruthless machinations of his father. Hamilcar simply has a slave boy substituted, despite the parents' grief-stricken protests. (The famous pledge scene at the altar between Hamilcar and Hannibal is not presented here.) As for Salammbô, did she really exist? Obviously, Hamilcar had a daughter (his successor Hasdrubal is listed as his son-in-law) but evidently Polybius nor any other historian ever names the girl. In Flaubert she's an extremely strange and sensual character; at one point she's intimate with a python. Mind-boggled, I had to stop in mid-description, go back and start reading the passage again, but there it is: "The serpent ... gluing its tail to the ground, rose perfectly erect ...resting the centre of its body upon the nape of her neck, allowed its head and tail to hang ... Salammbô rolled it around her sides, under her arms and between her knees; then ... brought the little triangular mouth to the edge of her teeth ... {she} panted beneath the excessive weight, her loins yielded ...Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Evil triumphs over evil

Flaubert spent several years researching this book about an army of mercenaries who revolt against ancient Carthage.

The book is a combination of history and myth not unlike Homer's Iliad. Like the Iliad it is a larger than life epic tale, but this tale has neither poetry nor heroes.

Carthage does not want to pay the mercenaries their due; the mercenaries seek to plunder Carthage in revenge. Both sides rely on deceit and treachery to advance their cause.

In the background, the sensual and mysterious Salammbo, seeking her own objective, indifferently and unwittingly affects the outcome.

The war becomes long and brutal as the balance shifts back and forth. The horror of war becomes increasingly indefensible as the author offers neither heroes nor justifications. Fed only by greed, pride and revenge, the war and the slaughter grind on endlessly.

Some would criticize, "This is not Madame Bovary, and this is too much violence without a point." Others would say, "This is not Madame Bovary, but to criticize that it is too much violence without a point, is to miss the point."

Flaubert, painting with exquisite detail and unapologetic language, tells an epic, exotic and sensual tale of failure.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By lapidaryblue on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
Supposedly this is a quote: "Do you know the sum total of my ambition? It's to have an intelligent, well-read man shut himself up with my book for four hours and to give him an orgy of historical hashish. That's all I want." --GF, Jan 1860

If this is accurate he has fulfilled his ambition, although it may take more than four hours to read. There is no doubt, however, that Flaubert provides that "orgy of historical hashish." What an incredible imagination this guy had (if perhaps a little too much adolescent male). It's worth reading for the catalog of fantastical descriptions of the people, places and practices he imagines in ancient Carthage. If I were a time traveller and this place existed as it is in Flaubert's account, what a place to visit!
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