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Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 1, 1996
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Original Language: French
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
This is the real deal. From Christendom to the Orient Flaubert sails and records his thoughts, observations and indulengences in his usual excellent prose.
A must read.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Listed as Good. Pages dog eared, writing throughout the book.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Very interesing travel journal of Flaubert's trip to Egypt in 1849. It's a thin book, but never dull. Read morePublished on January 27, 2013 by Donald E. Gilliland
This book has accounts from Flaubert's letters and travel notes during his adventure in Orient. He is a romantic poet and a weak traveler when it comes to difficulties in the... Read morePublished on December 30, 2012 by Edgar Tejada
This book's value lies largely in the insight into the personality of Flaubert that it provides. The commentary on ancient Egypt is virtually nil. Read morePublished on February 7, 2010 by Claire Pool
I was required to read Flaubert's account of his travels in Egypt, when I was in my senior year of college. Read morePublished on February 19, 2006 by D. Pawl