Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot: A Novel of Obsession and Parody
Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot is a novel that explores the life and work of the French writer Gustave Flaubert through the eyes of a retired English doctor named Geoffrey Braithwaite. Braithwaite is obsessed with Flaubert and his parrot, which he believes holds the key to understanding the author's genius and secrets. He travels to France to visit various places related to Flaubert, such as his birthplace, his house, his grave, and his museum. Along the way, he encounters different versions of the parrot, each claiming to be the one that Flaubert used as a model for his famous story \"A Simple Heart\". He also reflects on his own life, his marriage, his affair, and his grief over his wife's suicide.
Flaubert's Parrot is not a conventional biography, but a playful and inventive mixture of fiction and fact, of parody and homage, of literary criticism and personal memoir. Barnes uses various forms and genres, such as chronology, dictionary, examination paper, literary quiz, and essay, to create a multifaceted portrait of Flaubert and his influence on modern literature. He also questions the reliability and validity of biographical information, the role of imagination and interpretation in reading and writing, and the nature of art and reality. He shows how Flaubert's parrot can symbolize different aspects of his life and work, such as his style, his irony, his solitude, his passion, and his detachment.
Flaubert's Parrot was first published in 1984 and won several awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Prix MÃdicis. It was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It is widely regarded as one of Barnes' best novels and one of the most original and innovative works of postmodern fiction. It is available in various formats, including epub[^1^] [^2^], which is a digital format that can be read on devices such as e-readers, tablets, smartphones, and computers.One of the main themes of Flaubert's Parrot is the nature of love, whether for a book, an author, or a spouse[^1^]. The narrator, Braithwaite, simultaneously loves all three. He admires Flaubert's work and tries to understand his personality and motivations. He also cherishes the memory of his wife, Ellen, who was a Flaubert enthusiast and who committed suicide after having an affair. He feels guilty for not being able to prevent her death and for not being faithful to her himself. He wonders if he ever really knew her or if he was blinded by his idealized image of her. He compares his relationship with Ellen to Flaubert's relationship with his lover, Louise Colet, who was also a writer and who also betrayed him. He questions the possibility of true love and fidelity in a world where people are complex and contradictory.Another theme of Flaubert's Parrot is the nature of literature, especially the relationship between writers and their works. Braithwaite is fascinated by Flaubert's creative process and his literary achievements, but he also recognizes the limitations and challenges of writing. He analyzes Flaubert's style, his irony, his realism, his humor, and his influence on modern literature. He also examines Flaubert's struggles with censorship, criticism, boredom, illness, and self-doubt. He wonders how much of Flaubert's personality and experience can be found in his novels and stories, and how much is hidden or distorted by his imagination and craft. He questions the validity and reliability of biographical information, especially when it comes from Flaubert himself, who was known to lie or exaggerate about his life. He also questions the role of interpretation and criticism in reading and understanding literature, as he encounters different opinions and perspectives on Flaubert's work. a474f39169