Science and Confusion: Flaubert's Temptation

Peter Starr

in Commemorating Trauma

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226030
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240920 | DOI:
Science and Confusion: Flaubert's Temptation

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The first part of this chapter explores Flaubert's debt to natural history and his reinscription of contemporary vitalist biology. The second part examines the specifically melancholy cast of the Temptation's vitalism by inscribing it in the context of Flaubert's contemporaneous rants against the invading Prussians, the Paris Commune, and the early Third Republic. The chapter then concludes by revisiting Jean-Paul Sartre's account of Flaubert's crisis of 1870, and specifically Sartre's claim that the fall of the Second Empire occasioned Flaubert's “historical death.” Flaubert speaks often in his letters of a desire to make criticism, literary style, and even politics “scientific.” Flaubertian science is neither technocratic nor positivistic.

Keywords: Flaubert; Temptation; Jean-Paul Sartre; Prussians; Paris Commune; Third Republic; Flaubertian science

Chapter.  12421 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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