Here then is the volume on the table, nearly 800 pages, a new biography of Flaubert. And we already have a dozen books on the life and work of the great French author. “Madame Bovary”, “Salambo”, “L’Education sentimentale”, “Bouvard de Pécuchet” and many small pieces in prose, texts of world literary format. And…

Here then is the volume on the table, nearly 800 pages, a new biography of Flaubert. And we already have a dozen books on the life and work of the great French author. “Madame Bovary”, “Salambo”, “L’Education sentimentale”, “Bouvard de Pécuchet” and many small pieces in prose, texts of world literary format. And accordingly the biographer’s descriptions of the ways and times of this writer.

It is quite obvious that there has recently been an increase in the volume of books on authors. They all have a few hundred pages now, whether it’s Luther or Arno Schmidt, and of course Angela Merkel too.

Is it due to corona loneliness? Do people talk to Luther or to Proust because they are not allowed to talk to each other? A vast subject. But we only want to consider one of these long biographies: “Flaubert” by Michel Winock, translated from French by Horst Brühmann and Petra Willim.

What does this book offer, what do we learn that we did not know before or at least not in such exciting life stories? “In literary terms there are two different types in me: one who is enthused by lyrical exuberance, lofty eagle flights, full sound of phrase and heights of thought, another who digs and digs as deep as he can (…) and he loves to laugh and takes pleasure in the animal nature of humans. “

Michel Winock recounts this life in 30 often far-reaching chapters. Interestingly, he still refers to this basic structure of Flaubert’s character and life stages. It begins with writing and ends “post mortem” with Flaubert’s most enigmatic work, the unfinished novel “Bouvard et Pécuchet”, of which Winock writes: “Is science being put to the test here? But is it really science that is being called into question here? Questions about issues that still occupy researchers to this day.

But we were way ahead, a few facts are essential. Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen on December 13, 1821. The father was the chief doctor of the city hospital. The boy was gifted and could escape military service.

Winock now describes in the individual chapters the real events in Flaubert’s life, his travels, the times in Paris and finally the years in Croisset near Rouen. We tell the pretty anecdote of how the boatmen of the Seine saw a light on the shore at night, Flaubert’s office. The great novels are created: “Madame Bovary” (1856), which sued her for alleged violation of good morals, is now considered a world literary event (“walking the era of the development of the European novel”). Thus at the end of the book, unknown beginners “say to themselves – as Victor Hugo did one day while dreaming of Chateaubriand – to be Flaubert or nothing”.

Ah yes, we almost forgot, the book does not end with the usual references to sources, but with a “small anthology”. From “The Absolute” to “The Truth”, Winock offers a collection of quotes, wisdom and work experience. This part of the book alone is worth reading the tome. How good it is, one would like to say, that there are large books.