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Posts Tagged ‘Flaubert

“I cannot choose one hundred best books because I have only written five”*…


Fernando Sdrigotti, The Situationist Guide to Parenting

Since the arrival of twins, Spirulina and Ocelot, I have been indebted to my great friend and editor Fernando Sdrigotti for his invaluable parenting guide, inspired by the philosopher and alcoholic Guy Debord. No more awkward silences during the hours it seems to take the au pair to dry her hair — Sdrigotti’s guide provides no end of suitable conversation topics for bright 2 year olds, from Peppa Pig’s role in mediating social interactions between toddlers in the nursery to detourning the playground. Can’t afford another holiday abroad this year? Just remember, as Sdrigotti tells us, beneath each playpen lies the beach! The Situationist Guide to Parenting shifts the paradigm of the self-help genre, reinventing Sdrigotti as a Dr Spock for the modern dad.

It’s that time again– time for a cascade of “year’s best” lists.  Here, from 3:am Magazine, a particularly satisfying one: from the tantalizing title above to such interest-piquers as Sima Nitram’s I Fucking Hate Don XL, George Glaciate-Furbisher’s Flenge’s Dictum, and Diana Smith-Higglebury, Reclaimed Territory: A post-Brexit Britain Household Companion, a list of books that one needn’t feel bad for not reading…  as they don’t exist.  Hilariously ridiculous authors, titles, and critical precis– wonder at what might have been at “3:am books of the year.”

* Oscar Wilde


As we turn to books that we should perhaps actually read, we might send closely-observed birthday greetings to Gustave Flaubert; he was born on this date in 1821.  Best remembered now for his 1856 novel Madame Bovary, (and his meticulous devotion to his style and aesthetics), Flaubert reportedly woke at 10am every day and promptly hammered on his ceiling, to get his mother to come down and talk to him.

Flaubert helped to introduce a new form of realism into fiction; as a consequence he and his work had considerable influence on later writers, from his protege Guy de Maupassant to Joseph Conrad and James Joyce.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 12, 2017 at 1:01 am

Artful Accidents…


Crayon-colored illustration from The Mexican Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins (1915). Original from the University of Virginia. Digitized August 5, 2008.

The Art of Google Books collects two types of images: analog stains that are emblems of a paper book’s history and digital glitches that result from the scanning. On the site, the analog images show scads of marginalia written in antique script, library “date due” stamps from the mid-century, tobacco stains, wormholes, dust motes, and ghosts of flowers pressed between pages. On the digital side are pages photographed while being turned, resulting in radical warping and distortion; the solarizing of woodcuts owing to low-resolution imaging; sonnets transformed by software bugs into pixelated psychedelic patterns; and the ubiquitous images of workers’ hands…

Neon moiré fromThe First Ten Years of a Sailor’s Life at Sea by Charles Chapman (1876). Original from Harvard University. Digitized January 5, 2009.

Krissy Wilson, the keeper of The Art of Google Books, explains:

The diverse, startling adversaria of Google Books merits examination and exhibition. The aim of this project is twofold; to recognize book digitization as rephotography, and to value the signs of use that accompany digitized texts as worthy of documentation and study.

The halo of a removed flower. From p. 79 of The Ladies’ Work-table Book: Containing Clear and Practical Instructions in Plain and Fancy Needlework, Embroidery, Knitting, Netting, and Crochet (1845). Original from Harvard University. Digitized March 17, 2008.

Read more– and find links to others mining Google Books– at “The Artful Accidents of Google Books.”


As we put away our cotton gloves, we might send well-turned birthday greetings to Gustave Flaubert; he was born on this date in 1821.  Widely considered one of the greatest novelists in the Western canon, he is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), for his Correspondence– and for the scrupulous devotion to style and aesthetics they demonstrate.   Flaubert’s almost obsessive commitment to lean and precise prose was a major influence on his protege Maupassant, and later on such authors as Zola, Kafka and Coetzee, and has been the subject of admiration from thinkers and writers across a spectrum that runs from Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes to Mario Vargas Llosa and Marshall McLuhan.

Novelists should thank Flaubert the way poets thank spring; it all begins again with him. There really is a time before Flaubert and a time after him. Flaubert decisively established what most readers and writers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible. We hardly remark of good prose that it favors the telling of brilliant detail; that it privileges a high degree of visual noticing; that it maintains an unsentimental composure and knows how to withdraw, like a good valet, from superfluous commentary; that it judges good and bad neutrally; that it seeks out the truth, even at the cost of repelling us; and that the author’s fingerprints on all this are paradoxically, traceable but not visible. You can find some of this in Defoe or Austen or Balzac, but not all of it until Flaubert.

–  James Wood, How Fiction Works (2008)



Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 12, 2013 at 1:01 am

Catching up on one’s reading…


As Labor Day draws near, your correspondent suspects that at least some readers are staring dolefully (as he is) at the list of still-unread books that were meant to be the meat of the summer.  Well, thanks to Book-A-Minute, relief is at hand!

From Classics (“When even the Cliff’s Notes are just too long…”) through SciFi (“Your favorite science fiction and fantasy stories at lightspeed…”) to bedtime books (“Read to your kids without plodding through every last word of those eight page epics…”)– it’s all there.

By way of example, Charlotte Bronte’s heaving Jane Eyre:

(People are MEAN to Jane Eyre.)

Edward Rochester:

I have a dark secret. Will you stay with me no matter what?

Jane Eyre:


Edward Rochester:

My secret is that I have a lunatic wife.

Jane Eyre:


(Jane Eyre leaves. Somebody dies. Jane Eyre returns.)

(While condensation does have its costs, it can in some cases be– as this example demonstrates– an improvement on the original…)

Tick those tomes off the list at Book-A-Minute.


As we transcend Evelyn Wood, we might spare a thought for Kate Chopin, obvious fan of Flaubert and author of Book-A-Minute candidate The Awakening: on this date in 1904, she spent a long day at the St. Louis World’s Fair, where she suffered the cerebral hemorrhage from which she would die, aged 54, two days later.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 20, 2011 at 1:01 am

Grim fairy tales…

Dina Goldstein’s Fallen Princess Project…  very grim fairy tales indeed. (From JPG Magazine)

As we wish upon a star, we note that the anti-fabulist Gustave Flaubert went on trial in Paris on this date in 1857 for “offences against public morality,” a transgression attributed by prosecutors to his novel Madame Bovary.


Coincidentally on that same day,  Charles Baudelaire’s slim volume of verse, Les Fleurs du Mal, was published; prosecutors quickly nailed him and his publishers on the same charge.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 25, 2009 at 12:01 am

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