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The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – January 8, 2002

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library edition (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375759123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375759123
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“[The Temptation of Saint Anthony] calls up not only the great problems of knowledge, but the real riddles of life . . . and it confirms the awareness of our perplexity in the mysteriousness that reigns everywhere.”
—Sigmund Freud

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on August 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a work that should not be neglected by those interested in Flaubert or by lovers of French Literature. It's format resembles an old-fashioned cyclorama, which was basically a revolving canvas, portraying various interpretive images to an audience that would be seated in the middle of a room. Or it may recall the same period's "magic lantern" which would produce a similar effect, projecting a series of images on a flat wall, the precursor of modern cinema.
Flaubert ushered in an entirely new sensibility to the world of letters. He reinvented the concept of the literary artist as word-and world shaper. The word is the world and vice-versa. No writer ever engaged in such a Herculean struggle to shape every word, every sentence, every image, every assonance or consonance to perfectly conform to his intention.
Flaubert engaged in a kind of ascetisism his entire adult life, which is hardly news, but is central to an understanding of this work and to his attraction towards St. Anthony for a protagonist. Flaubert was for many years a kind of hermit in his study at Croisset, where he retired to his study to read books and write novels. He had contact with his mother and adopted niece and wrote letters to a mistress (Louise Collet, and later to George Sand) along with a few male friends. He would make brief sojourns into Paris, but for the most part, stayed to himself in his provincial hideaway. What he dreamt of there, besides his most famous works (Madame Bovary and L'Education Sentimentale) were reveries such as this novel and Salammbo, another book set in the Near-East and equally evocative in terms of his treatment of that region's sensual and Byzantine richness.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Harry Rutherford on July 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a startling and brilliant piece of prose poetry that deserves to be more widely read; just don't expect anything like his more conventional novels. Indeed, don't read it expecting a novel at all; it reads more like a cross between modernist poetry and Medieval vision literature.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
This work is likely to challenge those readers used to Flaubert's more representative works, i.e. Madame Bovary, Sentimental Education, "A Simple Heart." The difficulty lies not in novelty. The Temptation of Saint Anthony harkens back to the morality drama "Everyman" and Erasmus' In Praise of Folly. History notables, mythical personages, and personified qualities appear. Saint Anthony converses with the Queen of Sheba, Apollonius, Buddha, Isis, Venus, the Devil, and the Sphinx. Other characters are simply titled "A Child", "The Old Man", "The Stranger", and so on. These and others occur in a narrative structure that in print resembles the layout of a play. This mode lends itself to Flaubert's ambition to expunge the author's present from the work in the way Yeat's Byzantine dancer is indistinguishable from the dance. As Ms. Mrosovsky says in her lucid and comprehensive introduction Flaubert was so armored of this work he revised it several times during his career. She makes a case for The Temptation to be considered a significant part of the Flaubertian cannon. Most academicians, however, do not agree with this assessment as evidenced by the fact Madame Bovary is easy to come by more than a century after the author's death and The Temptation is not. The exquisite descriptive passages plus the profundities Flaubert attributes to the characters are not enough to endow this book with the dramatic tension and irony a reader finds in his better known works. This is not to relegate the book to obscurity. An encounter with Saint Anthony brings a reader to a fuller appreciation of the master's stringent art illustrated by his more famous novels.
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