Saturday, May 5
In Which Our Tragic Effects Remain Purely Professional
"In every relationship, romantic or otherwise, one of the two people feels slightly closer to the other, if only by a matter of degrees. So it was with Gustave Flaubert and his hypochrondriac, flaky friend Ivan Turgenev. These two barnacles met when Flaubert was 40 and Turgenev was three years older. From the tenor of their conversations, which Flaubert seemed to treasure above all else, we can deduce that their spirits remained substantially youthful. Flaubert's self-professed love of literature was so all-encompassing it almost crowded out other parts of himself; Turgenev shared his friend's basic interest but saw the underlying reality for what it was. (Turgenev called his friend, 'the only man in existence really devoted to literature.') Turgenev would visit Flaubert at his retreat in Croisset in the summer, or in Paris during the winter season. Many of the hours they passed together consisted of Flaubert reading his novels or plays aloud, a difficult task even for one of his most central admirers. The written correspondence between the two in the 1860s leaves the mortal plane behind; it can be classified as the first bubbles of modernity to enter the universe. ..."
2012 August: On Cataloguing Flaubert, 2013 March: Sentimental Education - 1(1869), 2016 December: Three Tales (1877), 2017 August: The Sentimental Education (1869)