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Three Tales (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 30, 1961


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 30, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140441069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441062
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,540,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This collection . . . is a wonderful read and relevant in every way with today’s readers as it was to the nineteenth century readers of its day . . . Perfect."  —Parent Talk

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Eminent French writer, Flaubert is regarded as one of the masters of realistic novel. An extraordinary craftsman, Flaubert was a perfectionist, who did not make a division between a beautiful or ugly subject: all was in style. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

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It tells the sad story of Felicite.
C. M Mills
Flaubert's eye for detail makes some of the scenes more horrific and as such more effective.
Russ Mayes
I think if it had been longer, I would have really gotten into it.
P. Troutman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "botatoe" on April 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
In 1877, twenty years after the publication of "Madame Bovary," Gustave Flaubert published "Three Tales," a thin volume containing the stories "A Simple Heart," "The Legend of St Julian Hospitator" and "Herodias." While Robert Baldick's introduction to the Penguin edition says that "Three Tales" is "still generally regarded as [Flaubert's] most successful and most representative work," it is by no means his best work and does not approach the level of literary genius displayed in "Madame Bovary," "Sentimental Education," or "Bouvard and Pecuchet."
The best of the tales is "A Simple Heart," the story of Felicite, a simple and pious servant girl who "loved her mistress with dog-like devotion and veneration." Orphaned at a young age, she is first taken in by a farmer who, "small as she was, [sent] her to look after the cows in the fields." It is a miserable life:
"She went about in rags, shivering with cold, used to lie flat on the ground to drink water out of the ponds, would be beaten for no reason at all, and was finally turned out of the house for stealing thirty sous, a theft of which she was innocent."
Felicite fortunately enters the service of another farmer who appreciates her devoted, unquestioning work habits. She grows into her adult years working for that farmer and then is retained as servant to Madame Aubain. Felicite's life with Madame Aubain forms the heart of the story, the first sentence of Flaubert's narrative adumbrating the whole: "For half a century the women of Pont-l'Eveque envied Madame Aubain her maidservant Felicite.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Nelson on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Three tales: One "modern" short-story, one medieval legend, and one historical sketch. Three diverse tales, all colorful and engaging. Reading these tales makes one wish Flaubert had written more. Other reviewers have described each story in more detail so I'll keep my descriptions brief. Beginning with "A Simple Heart", the story of a lonely servant-girl named Felicite who devotes her life to helping a single mother raise her children in a small Normandy village; moving back in time to the medieval era and a capitvating re-telling the legend of "St. Julian Hospitator" who devotes himself to God after being haunted by the thousands of animals he'd hunted and killed as a brash, arrogant youth; far back to the time of Christ, when "Herodias", King Herod's head-strong wife, instigates the beheading of John the Baptist, unintentionally paving the way for Jesus Christ himself; Flaubert has created three "religious" tales that plainly and simply illustrate the status of Christianity at different times, in different places. Some readers of Flaubert find undertones of sarcasm in these tales (more prevelant in "Sentimental Education" for sure), but I really believe he's attempting to be as non-judgmental as possible, simply telling it the way it is; or was. It seems to me that Flaubert's intention with these stories (especially "A Simple Heart" which to me has the most character depth & uniqueness of the three) is to not only showcase his literary skills, but to challenge himself to write about three seemingly unconnected eras and linking them by a common thread. Flaubert's descriptions and details are always of the highest caliber (although sometimes tiresome if one's not used to his style) but ultimately, each tale stands on its own, making "Three Tales" an excellent introduction to one of the most influential, and talented writers of all time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Russ Mayes VINE VOICE on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Flaubert's collection of "Three Tales" brings together a wonderful set of short stories. Working from contemporary to ancient and in various modes of realism, Flaubert delves into the spiritual depths of his characters. The first story, "A Simple Heart" is the best of the group. In this story, Flaubert tells the story Felicite, a loyal servant to an uninteresting patron. Flaubert quickly covers her whole life, from her difficult childhood and through her many attachments to her death. Felicite is a woman who feels love deeply, but Flaubert's presentation is very detached and never maudlin. The last great love of Felicite's life is a parrot (which also inspired Julian Barnes' "Flaubert's Parrot") who comes to symbolize the holy spirit for her. It would have been easy for Flaubert to portray Felicite's simplicity as an object of scorn or irony, but he treats her faithfully and never passes judgment on her actions or thoughts. Her story is beautifully told and stands up well to any short story I know.

The second tale, "The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller," is a retelling of the legendary Saint's life. Flaubert is in a completely different mode here; he is comfortable in the quick and magical progression typical of medieval tales. Flaubert's eye for detail makes some of the scenes more horrific and as such more effective. In particular, the scenes of carnage while hunting and the scene with the leper are particularly well drawn.

The final tale, "Herodias," is a retelling of the story of John the Baptist's execution. Here, Flaubert delves into the emotions of religious fervor and political intrigue. He focuses not on Herodias or John, but on Herod.
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