The Temptation of Saint Anthony
Around 260 pages
Well that was truly horrendous. I never expected anything like that to come from Flaubert. I feel more betrayed than when the man I was in love with chose another woman over me. After all, I trust my books far more than I have ever trusted men.
Where to begin on this "novel." It is actually written in the form of a play script, so I don't know if it can be rightfully called a novel. It is clear from how fantastical it is that it could never actually be performed so perhaps writing it in that format was some kind of Joycean stylistic choice to convey....something. I have no idea. The "story" follows Saint Anthony as he tempted by a myriad of things over the course of one night. I think. My knowledge of early church/Roman history isn't great. I really had no clue what was going on and Flaubert didn't seem that troubled to let people in on anything if they didn't get the references.
I felt like I was reading Maldoror 2. Some of the images in this story were truly horrific, like when Flaubert walked us through the castration of some crazy guy. I could not believe that this was the same Flaubert who delighted me with Madame Bovary and A Sentimental Education. It felt like it was written by an uber religious Russian hermit. According to Wikipedia, Flaubert worked on this novel "fitfully" for most of his adult life. Wow. I hope I can forgive him for this and remember the good times. It will take a lot of healing to get back to that place.
Has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Goodreads. I find that mind boggling.
Before this, I read Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day. Absolutely beautiful.
UP NEXT: The Hand of Ethelberta by Thomas Hardy. Back into the safe, warm embrace of Hardy.