A Simple Heart

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New Directions Publishing, 1996 - Fiction - 64 pages
2 Reviews
In A Simple Heart, the poignant story that inspired Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot, Félicité, a French housemaid, approaches a lifetime of servitude with human-scaled but angelic aplomb. No other author has imparted so much beauty and integrity to so modest an existence. Flaubert's "great saint" endures loss after loss by embracing the rich, true rhythms of life: the comfort of domesticity, the solace of the Church, and the depth of memory. This novella showcases Flaubert's perfectly honed realism: a delicate counterpoint of daily events with their psychological repercussions. "Flaubert is diagnosis," Ezra Pound wrote, "the whole of Flaubert, the whole fight for the novel as 'histoire morale contemporaine' was a fight against maxims, against abstractions, a fight back toward a human and/or total conception."
 

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I was a bit bored while reading this book, but after finishing it I came to appreciate it. The message is sweet - happiness found in the simple things. I admire Felicite and her simplicity - this is a book I can turn to when life may not be going the way I want it to, and remind myself of the insignificance of life's daily complications.  

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About the author (1996)

Born in the town of Rouen, in northern France, in 1821, Gustave Flaubert was sent to study law in Paris at the age of 18. After only three years, his career was interrupted and he retired to live with his widowed mother in their family home at Croisset, on the banks of the Seine River. Supported by a private income, he devoted himself to his writing. Flaubert traveled with writer Maxime du Camp from November 1849 to April 1851 to North Africa, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. When he returned he began Madame Bovary, which appeared first in the Revue in 1856 and in book form the next year. The realistic depiction of adultery was condemned as immoral and Flaubert was prosecuted, but escaped conviction. Other major works include Salammbo (1862), Sentimental Education (1869), and The Temptation of Saint Antony (1874). His long novel Bouvard et Pecuchet was unfinished at his death in 1880. After his death, Flaubert's fame and reputation grew steadily, strengthened by the publication of his unfinished novel in 1881 and the many volumes of his correspondence.

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