Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bon Mot

The large fellow above is one Gustave Flaubert, our 113th hero of the day will have to share the spoils of this particular day. M. Flaubert was born this day 1821 in Rouen, France. Born the second son of a surgeon, Flaubert begin writing at an early age, and was educated in his home city of Rouen. He did not travel to Paris until the age of 19 when he went there to study law. He was an indifferent law student, and as someone who has studied law, I can feel his pain. After about six years, one failed law exam, and one attack of epilepsy, he gave up the study of law and began to travel. It was about this time that he began the only serious romantic relationship of his life with Louise Colet. It last until 1854, and while Flaubert still, on occasion, "loved the ladies," he was pretty much finished with the idea of marriage and settling down. He and his life long friend, Maxime du Camp traveled the Nile in Egypt where they tasted the local fruit, and Flaubert was later able to write a short little travel book about their experiences. His most famous work, Madame Bovary, I will confess to not reading, however much in keeping with his writing style it took five years to finish. Flaubert was famous for searching for just the right word, the right turn of phrase for his books, and never resorted to cliches in any of his writings. Bovary did manage to get Flaubert and his publisher prosecuted for immorality, a charge of which they were acquitted, and his fame was secured. But for me, Flaubert's hero status rest upon two things. First, I read a biography of him that was quite good, and unlike some people who's biography I read, at the end of the book I still admired Flaubert. Something to be said for that, there have been people I thought I admired until I read a biography of them and found out what a real cunt they were. Secondly, his book "Sentimental Education." If you have not read it I suggest rushing out to the nearest book store and purchasing it. It is a fucking fantastic pieced of literature, and it took him seven years to finish. It is a book that you can read again and again, it had a profound effect on another fairly good writer Franz Kafka, who referred to Flaubert as his father (in the literary sense). He died in 1880 of a cerebral hemorrhage, and the world was immediately a poorer place. So, for taking the time, and effort of his words that I wish I had the ability to take, and for writing one of the ten best books I have ever read, Gustave Flaubert (December 12th 1821- May 8th 1880, at the age of 58), you are my (first) hero of the day.

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