Image of Gustave Flaubert


Lifetime: 1821 - 1880 Passed: ≈ 144 years ago





Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. According to the literary theorist Kornelije Kvas, "in Flaubert, realism strives for formal perfection, so the presentation of reality tends to be neutral, emphasizing the values and importance of style as an objective method of presenting reality". He is known especially for his debut novel Madame Bovary (1857), his Correspondence, and his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics. The celebrated short story writer Guy de Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert. On the occasion of Flaubert's 198th birthday (12 December 2019), a group of researchers at CNRS published a neural language model under his name.

Flaubert was born in Rouen, in the Seine-Maritime department of Upper Normandy, in northern France. He was the second son of Anne Justine Caroline (née Fleuriot; 1793–1872) and Achille-Cléophas Flaubert (1784–1846), director and senior surgeon of the major hospital in Rouen. He began writing at an early age, as early as eight according to some sources.

He was educated at the Lycée Pierre-Corneille in Rouen, and did not leave until 1840, when he went to Paris to study law. In Paris, he was an indifferent student and found the city distasteful. He made a few acquaintances, including Victor Hugo. Toward the end of 1840, he travelled in the Pyrenees and Corsica. In 1846, after an attack of epilepsy, he left Paris and abandoned the study of law.

From 1846 to 1854, Flaubert had a relationship with the poet Louise Colet; his letters to her have survived. After leaving Paris, he returned to Croisset, near the Seine, close to Rouen, and lived there for the rest of his life. He did however make occasional visits to Paris and England, where he apparently had a mistress.

His first finished work was November, a novella, which was completed in 1842.

In September 1849, Flaubert completed the first version of a novel, The Temptation of Saint Anthony. He read the novel aloud to Louis Bouilhet and Maxime Du Camp over the course of four days, not allowing them to interrupt or give any opinions. At the end of the reading, his friends told him to throw the manuscript in the fire, suggesting instead that he focus on day-to-day life rather than fantastic subjects.

He wrote an unsuccessful drama, Le Candidat, and published a reworked version of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, portions of which had been published as early as 1857.

Flaubert suffered from venereal diseases most of his life. His health declined and he died at Croisset of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1880 at the age of 58. He was buried in the family vault in the cemetery of Rouen.

Books by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary Cover image

Madame Bovary

Fiction Novel
Realism Modernist Objectivity

The strands woven together in Gustave Flaubert's famous, path breaking 1856 novel Madame Bovary include a provincial town in Normandy, France, a shy young doctor with an indifferent career and a lovely young woman who lives in a fantasy world based o...

Three Short Works  Cover image

Three Short Works

Poetry Fiction
Short Story Love Widow Loyalty Legend Saints

Here is a collection of strikingly different pieces by Flaubert: a prose poem in the voices of Death, Satan and Nero; the trials and apotheosis of a medieval saint; and the life of a selfless maid in 19th century France. Each exhibits the vigorous ex...

Salammbo  Cover image


Fiction History
War Military Historical Fiction Obsession Conflict Roman General Fiction

Salammbô is a historical novel by Gustave Flaubert. It is set in Carthage immediately before and during the Mercenary Revolt (241–237 B.C.). Flaubert's principal source was Book I of Polybius's Histories. The novel was enormously popular when first p...

Sentimental Education Cover image

Sentimental Education

19th century Young Romance Historical Fiction Childhood Life Discovery French Revolution

The novel describes the life of a young man living through the revolution of 1848 and the founding of the Second French Empire, and his love for an older woman (based on the wife of the music publisher Maurice Schlesinger, who is portrayed in the boo...

Dictionnaire des idées reçues Cover image

Dictionnaire des idées reçues

Le « Dictionnaire des idées reçues » : recueil d’exemples de l’intelligence humaine qui se dépasse elle-même. Les temps changent ; ce genre d’intelligence, non. Flaubert nous fait des clins d’œil depuis sa tombe – et ceci durera certainement jusqu’à...

Madame Bovary (French) Cover image

Madame Bovary (French)

Charles Bovary, médecin de campagne, veuf d'une mégère, fait lors d'une tournée la rencontre du père Rouault et de sa fille, Emma. Après leur mariage, Emma reste insatisfaite et rêve d'une nouvelle vie. Son premier amant lui donne le goût du luxe et...

Salammbô Cover image


After completing the famous Mme Bovary, Flaubert put all his efforts into researching the Punic Wars and completed the lesser known Salammbô. In this volume, Flaubert describes in detail the Mercenary Revolt and the fight of the Mercenaries against t...

Salammbo Cover image


Roman historique situé au 3ème siècle avant JC. La trame du récit raconte la guerre qui oppose Carthage aux mercenaires qu'elle avait employé lors de la première Guerre Punique, et qui se rebellent car Carthage tarde à leur payer leur solde.Le roman...

Frau Bovary Cover image

Frau Bovary

Emma Bovary ist unglücklich: sie ist mit einem rechtschaffenen Arzt verheiratet, der sie gut behandelt, jedoch nicht die Erfüllung ihrer Wünsche und Sehnsüchte ermöglichen kann. Um dem für sie banalen, langweiligen Landleben zu entfliehen, lebt sie ü...

Señora de Bovary Cover image

Señora de Bovary

La soñadora Emma, una joven de provincias casada con Charles Bovary, quien la ama pero es incapaz de comprenderla y satisfacerla, buscará la realización de sus sueños en otros amores, pasionales, platónicos..., pero ninguno de ellos logrará calmar su...

Temptation Of St. Anthony Cover image

Temptation Of St. Anthony

An extraordinary work of the aesthetic imagination, cast in the form of a psycho-drama detailing the events of one night in the life of the aged hermit, later Saint, Anthony, in the course of which his claims to sainthood are severely tested by, amon...

Salambó Cover image


Salambó recrea la “Guerra de los mercenarios” que tuvo lugar en el siglo III AC en la ciudad de Cartago. Se puede considerar una novela histórica aunque en ella aparecen tanto personajes reales como ficticios. Flaubert relató con todo lujo de detalle...