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Gustave Flaubert, the fury to write: this is Parisian life!


EPISODE 7/11 WEBSERIES - Le Figaro Hors-Série devotes an exceptional number to the author of Madame Bovary. On the strength of his literary successes, the hermit of Croisset happily lets himself be caught up in the whirlwind of Paris.

Portrait of Signora Morrocchi by Antonio Puccinelli, 1859 AKG Images / De Agostini Picture Lib./G.Nimatallah

January 21, 1863. Since

Madame Bovary's

immense success

and that of Salammbô, Gustave Flaubert is part of Parisian literary life.

One cannot say that the hermit of Croisset is dissatisfied with it.

His new friends are called Ernest Feydeau, Théophile Gautier, Michelet, Sainte-Beuve, Renan, Paul de Saint-Victor or even Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, whom he calls his “bichons”.

He finds them at the Café Anglais, at Tortoni, at the Trois Frères Provençaux or at their home.

Because everyone is keen to behave as a generous host.

Having rented an apartment, Flaubert got used to entertaining on Sundays.

He frequents actresses, some of whom have been his mistresses, as well as "hinds", these demi-mondaines maintained by a wealthy lover.

They all pride themselves on organizing literary dinners, or even holding a salon.

Everywhere, he is thunderous, a good comrade, never hesitating to give advice, a helping hand and tell of the kidding of an old schoolboy.

He also knows how to make the pretty heart.

To read also: Michel De Jaeghere: "Madame Bovary, c'est nous"

This new existence enchants him.

Every fortnight, he takes part in Magny dinners.

It was the good Dr François Veyne who had the idea to distract one of his patients and friend, the cartoonist Paul Gavarni, whose health is declining and who is souring.

The participants are co-opted.

We meet in a private office at Modeste Magny rue Contrescarpe-Dauphine, one of the best restaurants in Paris.

Sainte-Beuve, Taine, Renan, Théophile Gautier and the Goncourt brothers, among other commensals, are the most assiduous.

During these feasts, we talk about everything, loud and clear, except politics.

Fornication is a favorite topic of conversation.

We boast to who better better.

But sometimes, with the champagne helping to keep things confidential, we lower our tone to talk about pain, confusion, our own loneliness.

On January 21, 1863, Gustave went to Princess Mathilde for the first time with the "bichons".

According to the two most famous pipelets in Paris, she really liked Salammbô and would like to receive Flaubert rue de Courcelles.

He will become familiar with it as well as Saint-Gratien, near Lake d'Enghien, his resort.

The daughter of Jérôme Bonaparte, sister of Prince Napoleon, who is called Plon-Plon, and cousin of the emperor, had married a Russian prince from whom she separated.

It receives in small committee artists and writers.

Prides herself on being their protector.

Very quickly, Gustave was drawn not only in his wake but also in that of Plon-Plon, who gave him "dear friend", which flatters him.

Invited by the prince to the Palais-Royal, then to the Opera ball with the Turin ambassador, he sits in the grand imperial box, which charms him.

In November, he was invited to the Imperial Palace of Compiègne.

Soon, Princess Mathilde, who according to the Goncourts seems to be unable to do without Flaubert, gives her the Legion of Honor.

He also attended the great feast given at the Tuileries on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition.

"The time is long gone when Gustave said that" honors dishonor ".

Has the man changed?

No, but he is happy to be recognized, celebrated after so many years of doubts, suffering, asceticism. "

Irina de Chikoff

The Croisset bear now wears the coat and white gloves.

He owes two thousand seven hundred and twenty-eight francs to his upholsterer and more than one thousand eight hundred francs to his tailor.

His mother is reluctant to pay off her debts, then gives in and sells a piece of land or a farm.

Gone are the days when Gustave said that "honors dishonor".

Has the man changed?

No, but he is happy to be recognized, celebrated after so many years of doubts, suffering, asceticism.

He relaxes.


While knowing that he will soon be working on a great novel.

He will take stock of his disillusions.

He will call it

Sentimental Education

 : the very title of a childhood novel he wrote when he was twenty-one.

In his office in Croisset, two windows of which overlook the Seine and the other three on the garden, he will once again “be amazed”, as when he was working on the revolt of the mercenaries in Carthage.

And when he can no longer take it, he will look on the fireplace at the white marble bust of his beloved sister, as realized by James Pradier.

Or lying on the couch, he will contemplate the comings and goings of his goldfish in their jar.

Before getting back to his work table to "climb" again "a mountain".

This article is from the

Figaro Hors-Série:

Flaubert, la fureur d'être


Discover Flaubert's eventful life, his friendships, his work, his characters, his quest for the perfect style on

Figaro Store


Portrait of Signora Morrocchi by Antonio Puccinelli, 1859 AKG Images / De Agostini Picture Lib./G.Nimatallah

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-01-22

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