Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

April 1987


Published in Nineteenth-Century French Studies 15:3 (Spring 1987). Copyright 1987 Nineteenth-Century French Studies. Used by permission.


En haine du roman is a lively and well-written discussion with the stated objective of wanting to account for the near religious veneration with which Flaubert viewed his activity as a writer. The answer is that Flaubert's exclusive devotion to writing was a retreat from life, indeed a hatred of it and particularly of the drives towards social success and power and, at root, sexual conquest and procreation. Yet the very fact that he wrote, and that he wrote books like Madame Bovary when he (as he sometimes said) preferred writing books like La Tentation de saint Antoine, points to the vestige of such drives and also to something like a struggle within between two contending dimensions of his character.