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The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert, 1821-1857, Volume 5 Hardcover – January 26, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0226735191 ISBN-10: 0226735192 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: The Family Idiot (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 632 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (January 26, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226735192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226735191
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,432,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gustave Flaubert's boyhood desire to become an actor was "his way of living the situation assigned to him in the Flaubert family," writes Sartre. This monumental life study draws on psychoanalysis and existentialism in imagining how Flaubert forged his inner self. Sartre portrays the author of Madame Bovary as a Nero of words whose towering literary ambition was the revenge of a child seething with rage at his manly, overpossessive mother. Though this volume covers Flaubert's early literary career, the emphasis is on childhood and adolescence. His fetishes, homoerotic affairs, self-proclaimed desire to be a woman and masochism add up to a seldom-seen side of the polished literary stylist. Readers not put off by the dense academic prose and highly speculative approach will find much to ponder.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This volume completes the publication of Sartre's monumental five-volume study of Flaubert, a work that sums up Sartre's thought as much as his subject's. Sartre, who never wrote the final volume he had planned, here concludes with a climax rather than a denouement, ending with the publication of Madame Bovary. Since Flaubert distilled with acuity the sociohistorical climate of his class and era, all the major and minor figures of the time find their place in this account, whether in kowtow or combat. In the end, translator Cosman's achievement is as stellar as Sartre's--and as interpretive of his work as Sartre was of Flaubert's. Her work on earlier volumes (e.g., Vol. 4, LJ 7/91) has been criticized for failing to normalize the style, but her strategy is clear: to make Sartre a Deconstructionist, an exemplar of a movement that paralleled his last years and largely ignored him. The result shows Sartre at this most encyclopedic and makes him sound relevant. For specialized liter ary collections.
- Marilyn Gaddis Rose, SUNY-Binghamton
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Novelist, playwright, and biographer Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) is widely considered one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. His major works include "No Exit," "Nausea," "The Wall," "The Age of Reason," "Critique of Dialectical Reason," "Being and Nothingness," and "Roads to Freedom," an allegory of man's search for commitment, and not, as the man at the off-licence says, an everyday story of French country folk.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pressman on February 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
by far the most underrated of all sartre's works. skip the rest -- read nausea, then this 4 volume set. it's the final word of sartre
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sartre's L'IDIOT consists of 5 large volumes in English translation, of which this is volume 1.

Even at this great length, Sartre only covers the first 36 years of Flaubert's life, so it's not a complete biography, nor is it really classifiable as a critical study, because it includes lengthy philosophical and psychological ruminations that are only tangential to the ostensible subject.

At that, the book is incomplete: Sartre died before he could finish it.

Why did he write this insane book? His GENET: ACTOR AND MARTYR was odd enough, since it transmogrified Jean Genet into a ghostly melange of Freudian and Marxist abstractions. Having read about half this volume, I get the feeling that Flaubert is being eviscerated in a way that can only be called insane.

Hazel Barnes has written a critical study of L'IDIOT that saves the interested reader from struggling through the five volumes of the English translation, most of which are out-of-print and hard to find.

Carol Cosman's translation is ... well, it's hard to say, especially since I don't have the French text, but I'd guess she had a very difficult time with a lot of Sartre's terminology and probably die-hards should turn to the French text to understand Sartre. I won't, one English volume and Barnes is enough for me!
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