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Double Bind

Julian Barnes, 3 June 1982

The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert 1821-1857 
by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Chicago, 627 pp., £17.50, January 1982, 0 226 73509 5
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Sartre and Flaubert 
by Hazel Barnes.
Chicago, 449 pp., £17.50, January 1982, 0 226 03720 7
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... of his life, or that it brought upon the comrade of 1968 certain inevitable reproaches. But why Flaubert? After all, Sartre recorded in Les Mots how, as a child, he was ‘poisoned’ by the ‘old bile’ and the ‘abstract hatred of mankind’ of Flaubert, Gautier and the Goncourts; and a harsh excommunication was also ...

A Terrible Bad Cold

John Sutherland, 27 September 1990

by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 1195 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 1 85619 000 5
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... while writing Bleak House. It, too, suggests that the Victorian virus never struck randomly: ‘Gustave Flaubert used to say that he suffered with his characters even as he created them, that he became invaded by nervous anxiety at the same time as his characters, and even shared in the agony induced by the arsenic poisoning of Emma Bovary. Dickens’s ...

Half-Timbering, Homosexuality and Whingeing

Ian Sansom: Julian Barnes, 1 October 1998

England, England 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 272 pp., £15.99, September 1998, 0 224 05275 6
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... raw material, squeezes it into novelty-shaped moulds and palms it off as the real thing. Flaubert’s Parrot (1984) is really just a ground up thesis, seasoned, reconstituted and skewered on a long, thin story. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters (1989) is a series of little oyster-like essays set in the vast grey, greasy sea of history and The ...

Mother’s Boys

David A. Bell, 10 June 1993

The Family Romance of the French Revolution 
by Lynn Hunt.
Routledge, 220 pp., £19.99, September 1992, 0 415 08236 6
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... Perhaps repelled by the way 19th-century crowd psychologists such as Hippolyte Taine and Gustave Le Bon analysed – and demonised – the ‘savage’ and ‘irrational’ revolutionary mobs, most of them rejected all historical applications of psychoanalysis as inherently unreliable. Yet as Peter Gay has aptly pointed out, insofar as every ...

Summarising Oneself

Julian Barnes: Degas’s Vanity, 19 November 2020

The Letters of Edgar Degas 
edited by Theodore Reff.
Wildenstein Plattner Institute, 1464 pp., £150, June, 978 0 9988175 1 4
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... or Gauguin; only one letter to Renoir is here. Some of the exchanges are partial, like that with Gustave Moreau, whose friendship was vital when both men were young and aspiring in Italy; they knew one another for decades, but the only four extant letters to Moreau all date from 1858-59. At the other extreme there are an enormous number of letters – twice ...

At the Crime Scene

Adam Shatz: Robbe-Grillet’s Bad Thoughts, 31 July 2014

A Sentimental Novel 
by Alain Robbe-Grillet, translated by D.E. Brooke.
Dalkey Archive, 142 pp., £9.50, April 2014, 978 1 62897 006 7
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... it was written. Consider Robbe-Grillet’s 1962 story ‘La Chambre secrète’, dedicated to Gustave Moreau. It begins: ‘The first thing to be seen is a red stain, of a deep, dark, shiny red, with almost black shadows. It is in the form of an irregular rosette, sharply outlined, extending in several directions in wide outflows of unequal ...

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