The Party of Movement: Flaubert's Bouvard et Pécuchet

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:
The Party of Movement: Flaubert's Bouvard et Pécuchet

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This chapter argues that Flaubert effectively implies and subverts a series of traditional liberal values—those of freedom, culture, judgment, and individual distinction—while nonetheless taking his “revenge” on those who would deny such values. After briefly considering how Flaubert's reprise of melancholy vitalism in Bouvard results in a form of what LaCapra has called “post-traumatic writing,” the chapter concludes by examining two variants of the late nineteenth-century French Liberal response to an agonistic quality inherent in the era's mounting democratism, contrasting the melancholy ambivalence or double-voicedness of Ernest Renan's writings circa 1871 with what the author calls the antiagonistic strategies of Flaubert's contemporaneous novels. Bouvard and Pécuchet actually take up the matter of universal suffrage on the tenth of December 1848, when “all the people of Chavignolles voted for Bonaparte.”

Keywords: Flaubert; liberal values; melancholy vitalism; LaCapra; Ernest Renan; antiagonistic strategies; Bouvard; Pécuchet; suffrage

Chapter.  13681 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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