Prose of the World
Flaubert and the Art of Making Things Visible
Historia litterarum, No. 26
By Sara Danius
Uppsala University Press
203 pages, 6 1/4" x 9 1/4"
$52.50 paper original
Why does Gustave Flaubert point out that the soap in Felicite's bedroom is blue? Why does George Eliot say that the brink of the river Floss is tinged with a soft purple hue? Why does Theodore Fontane dwell on the belt Effi Briest is wearing?
The history of Western literature as we know it, from Homer and Greek tragedy onward, can be approached as a history of making things visible. Homer wants us to see Odysseus's scar; Cervantes wants us to see those windmills. In the early nineteenth century, however, the art of making things visible takes a radically new turn.
In this work, the author explores nineteenth-century realism and the art of making things visible, with a particular focus on Flaubert. Paying close attention to the stylistic texture of Flaubert's major works, the author argues that Flaubertian description is more than just description. It is a new object in the history of literary representation.
This book is part of a larger scholarly enterprise. For while this is a free-standing study of Flaubert, it is also part of a projected trilogy on realism that seeks to map how the modern novel extends the limits of what can be known and seen.
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