Gustave Flaubert Quotes

Gustave Flaubert, 1821 – 1880

Born: 12 December 1821, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France
Died: 8 May 1880, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France

Flaubert’s father was director and chief surgeon of the municipal hospital, their apartment was actually part of that facility, and his mother was the daughter of a doctor, but after being educated locally he was sent to Paris to study law in 1840. He was an indifferent student and didn’t care for Paris. After an attack of epilepsy he returned to his home region, to the town of Croisset, and devoted himself to literature. His most famous novel, Madame Bovary, took five years to write and earned him a prosecution for writing an immoral work. He wrote extremely carefully, so his life output was very small. Fortunately, his correspondence with the major literary figures of his day was significant, particularly that with the poet Loise Colet (his one significant romantic relationship), much of which was preserved. His work established what is now regarded as “modern realist narration,” what we know as the modern novel is largely based on his style. Open about his visits to both male and female prostitutes, he suffered from venereal diseases through his adult life. During his last several years both his finances and his health declined, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Gustave Flaubert quotes:

A thing derided is a thing dead; a laughing man is stronger than a suffering man.
    Gustave Flaubert

Adultery … could be as banal as marriage.
    Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary (1857)

An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.
    Gustave Flaubert – Letter to Madame Louise Colet (9 December 1852)

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.
    Gustave Flaubert – Letter to George Sand (10 May 1867)

Be regular and orderly in your daily affairs that you may be violent and original in your work.
    Gustave Flaubert – Letter to Gertrude Tennant (25 December 1876)

But some day sooner or later our passion would have cooled — inevitably — it’s the way with everything human.
    Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary (1857)

Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educate themselves. No, read to live.
    Gustave Flaubert – Letter to Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie (June 1857)

Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.
    Gustave Flaubert – Letter to Madame Louise Colet (14 August 1853)

Exuberance is better than taste.
    Gustave Flaubert – Sentimental Education (1869)

For some men, the stronger their desire, the more difficult it is for them to act.
    Gustave Flaubert – Sentimental Education (1869)

He is so corrupt that he would willingly pay for the pleasure of selling himself.
    Gustave Flaubert – Sentimental Education (1869)

He saw no reason why there should be all this to-do about so simple a thing as love-making.
    Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary (1857)

He took it for granted that she was content; and she resented his settled calm, his serene dullness, the very happiness she herself brought him.
    Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary (1857)

Here is true immorality: ignorance and stupidity; the devil is nothing but this. His name is Legion.
    Gustave Flaubert

Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.
    Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary (1857)

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