Friday, January 22, 2016

157. The Temptation of Saint Anthony

The Temptation of Saint Anthony
Gustave Flaubert
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.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

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.


  1. It sounds awful! I loved Madame Bovary and would have assumed, like you, that I would enjoy all his writing. Thanks for the heads up and I am truly sorry you had to read this. :) I admire your persistence with The Book.