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Flaubert's Parrot Paperback – Sep 6 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (Sept. 6 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330491962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330491969
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #473,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on Feb. 14 2002
Format: Paperback
This may be the most unusual book I've ever read.
Sort of a philosophical treatise on art, writing, Flaubert, the French, compulsion and love presented under the guise of a very arcane literary detective story.
Barnes is a very quixotic and imaginative writer with a definitely skewed view of the world and an engaging and witty writing voice. The musings of the narrator are well formed and allow the reader move along at a brisk pace. It helps that Flaubert himself was a wacky and iconoclastic figure-one of those people we've all heard of but don't really know anything about unless you are some sort of 19th century French literature freak.
This was the first Barnes novel I read and it was so good I have been slowly working my way through his other books, which has proven to be an altogether delightful experience. All of his novels are good-this one stands out from the pack.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Birkett on Aug. 5 2001
Format: Paperback
You have to have read Madame Bovary (or maybe Cliff's notes on Madame Bovary) to understand the plot. You don't have to have read "Un Coeur Simple" but you probably will after reading this. It's not until three-quarters of the way through that you suddenly realize there's a plot. Until then it's a series of very clever biographical essays about Flaubert. Then you understand why the narrator it obsessed with Flaubert. Then you get equally clever essays about the nature of love and grief. Wonderful insight into the poignancy of bereavement combined with sharp and erudite wit. It may be too erudite and clever for some. It demands a certain amount of francophilia and anglophilia, and understanding phrases like "I might let the TLS have it." I'd always thought it was Nabokov, not Starkie who accused Flaubert of getting mixed up about the color of Emma's eyes. I think he did get get mixed up about the color of Loulou's wings in Un Coeur Simple- at least in the English translation I read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant. Barnes knowledge and love of French Literature woven into a modern day context makes this unlike anything else I've ever read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lots of facts mixed up with fiction It is a must to read alongside Madame Bovary. An eye for detail all the way through and compelling analysis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Cooper on May 23 2001
Format: Paperback
This idea-driven novel is filled with brilliant observations, especially in the later chapters, that make me want to read Flaubert. But, in my opinion, the brilliance of these observations is not credibly attributable to personality of the narrator or the power of his trauma. As a result, the essayist Julian Barnes, as well as extensive comments from Flaubert ("With me, friendship is like the camel: once started, there is no way of stopping it.") seemed to carry the narrative load. Regardless, this is a very entertaining book that broadened this reader's horizons. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mp on April 14 2001
Format: Paperback
Julian Barnes's novel/fictional biography/fictional autobiography, "Flaubert's Parrot" is a magnificent work. This is the first of Barnes's work that I have read, and it shall not be the last. In it, an admittedly mediocre, aging scholar, Geoffrey Braithwaite, professedly attempts to eschew the accepted notions of literary biography, while pursuing just the sort of minutiae he derides. In the case of Flaubert, Braithwaite becomes obsessed with two stuffed parrots - which is the one that inspired and annoyed Flaubert during the composition of 'Un coeur simple'?
Conventions of narrative, style, and form are dispensed with throughout this work - it is composed of a range of genres (mulit-voiced narratives, chronology, encyclopedia/dictionary, and even essay-exam questions). At the same time, the disparate modes are held together from the beginning by a deeper underlying drive - the uncovering of Flaubert's life and opinions operate as a function of Braithwaite's own unresolved issues with the death of his wife.
For all the Sartre-bashing that goes on in "Flaubert's Parrot," one notices striking resonances between Barnes's novel and one of Sartre's, to wit, "Nausea." In both, exasperated scholars find themselves feebly attempting to write intended biographies (for Sartre, the subject is Monsieur de Rollebon) while exploring their own relationship turmoils. Is this part of the much-discussed 'irony' that Braithwaite emphasizes as present in Flaubert's life and writings? Is Barnes, as the deus in absentia author, manipulating and ironizing Braithwaite's tumultuous search for truth about Flaubert to point out Braithwaite's own inconsistencies?
I digress.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest on Dec 12 2000
Format: Paperback
This is not the book that landed The Booker Prize for Mr. Barnes. I have read the novel that did win, "England, England", and I feel this is every bit as good. There are some familiar variants on phrases he has used before, and while not entirely new are not boringly repetitive. I also enjoyed the abrupt changes in point of view, a perspective change that altered the cadence of the novel.
Mr. Barnes has truly assembled this work as opposed to progressing from one chapter to the next. The first clever use of this is when you come upon a Chronology of Flaubert's life. Nothing-unusual here. However Mr. Julian Barnes is anything but another quick wit with a pen. So the reader is treated to 3 distinct Chronologies, the subject is essentially the same, however the only true commonality is on the date they end. The voice they are written in changes, and with this modification the mood as well.
We have a Narrator who loosely guides us through the tale, however a range of stylistic changes intrudes upon his narrative. Intrude is probably too strong a word for it all works, it all makes sense when placed in the complete context of the book. For one example, I cannot remember the last time I read a novel and found myself subjected to a test, complete with parameters, what is not acceptable regarding the form of answer, and finally a time limit. It did cause uncomfortable suppressed memories of literature exams, but the unpleasant moment is blessedly short. It will depend on how fond you were of written tests.
The Parrot is much more than a bird, and even when it does appear as an ornithologist would describe the creature, the number varies widely, as do the locations and clues to the one true bird.
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