Gustave Flaubert

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Gustave Flaubert, French author

Gustave Flaubert (December 12 1821May 8 1880) was an influential French writer who was perhaps the leading exponent of literary realism of his country. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), for his Correspondence, and for his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics.

See also: Madame Bovary

Quotes[edit]

  • The brazen arms were working more quickly. They paused no longer. Every time that a child was placed in them the priests of Moloch spread out their hands upon him to burden him with the crimes of the people, vociferating: "They are not men but oxen!" and the multitude round about repeated: "Oxen! oxen!" The devout exclaimed: "Lord! Eat!"

Sentimental Education (1869)[edit]

  • Mieux vaut l'exubérance que le goût.
    • Exuberance is better than taste…
    • Pt. 1, Ch. 4

Rien n'est humiliant comme de voir les sots réussir dans les entreprises où l'on échoue. Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in. Pt. 1, Ch. 5


  • For some men, the stronger their desire, the more difficult it is for them to act. They are hampered by mistrust of themselves, daunted by the fear of giving offence; besides, deep feelings of affection are like respectable women; they are afraid of being found out and they go through life with downcast eyes.
    • Pt. 2, Ch. 3
  • He is so corrupt that he would willingly pay for the pleasure of selling himself.
    • Pt. 3, Ch. 3

Correspondence[edit]

  • What is beautiful is moral, that is all there is to it.

Letters to Madame Louise Colet[edit]

  • One must not always think that feeling is everything. Art is nothing without form. (August 12, 1846)
  • To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost. (August 13, 1846)
  • Quelle atroce invention que celle du bourgeois, n'est-ce pas?
    • What a horrible invention, the bourgeois, don't you think? (September 22, 1846)
  • One becomes a critic when one cannot be an artist, just as a man becomes a stool pigeon when he cannot be a soldier. (October 22, 1846)
  • An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere. (December 9, 1852)
  • The idea of bringing someone into the world fills me with horror. I would curse myself if I were a father. A son of mine! Oh no, no, no! May my entire flesh perish and may I transmit to no one the aggravations and the disgrace of existence. (December 11, 1852)
  • You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies, and the importance of a work of art by the harm that is spoken of it. (June 14, 1853)
  • Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry. (August 14, 1853)

Letters to Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie[edit]

  • The artist must be in his work as God is in creation, invisible and all-powerful; one must sense him everywhere but never see him. (March 18, 1857)
  • Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educate themselves. No, read to live. (June 1857)

Letters to George Sand[edit]

  • The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of bourgeois stupidity. (1871)
  • Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times. (September 8, 1871)
  • Axiom: hatred of the bourgeois is the beginning of wisdom. But I include in the word bourgeois, the bourgeois in blouses as well the bourgeois in coats. It is we and we alone, that is to say the literary men, who are the people, or to say it better: the tradition of humanity. (10 May 1867)
  • L'homme n'est rien, l'oeuvre – tout
    • The man is nothing, the work - all (December 1875)
    • Slightly misquoted in "The Red-Headed League" by Arthur Conan Doyle as L'homme c'est rien – l'oeuvre c'est tout.


Misattributed[edit]

External links[edit]

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