Showing posts from December, 2013

"What a heavy oar the pen is, and what a strong current ideas are to row in!" -Gustave Flaubert

The French novelist Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, is no lightweight in matters of the imagination. Famed for his hard work and perfectionism, it is said that "He worked in sullen solitude — sometimes occupying a week in the completion of one page — never satisfied with what he had composed."

Flaubert considered finding le mot juste--the right word--to be the aim of a writer, sometimes spending an entire week to write one page to his own satisfaction.

No doubt his pen felt heavy, but it was also the ideal oar for the strong currents he observed in the changing social ideas of his era. As Wikipedia notes, "The publication of Madame Bovary in 1856 was followed by more scandal than admiration; it was not understood at first that this novel was the beginning of something new: the scrupulously truthful portraiture of life. "

Here the creation of an entire literary movement, Realism (often called Naturalism, espec…