Flaubert's Parrot

Flaubert's Parrot

by Julian Barnes

Paperback(1st Vintage international ed)

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A kind of detective story, relating a cranky amateur scholar's search for the truth about Gustave Flaubert, and the obsession of this detective whose life seems to oddly mirror those of Flaubert's characters.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679731368
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1990
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: 1st Vintage international ed
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 356,691
Product dimensions: 5.17(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.53(d)

About the Author

Julian Barnes is the author of ten previous novels, three books of short stories, and three collections of journalism. In addition to the Booker Prize, his other honors include the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in London.


London, England

Date of Birth:

January 19, 1946

Place of Birth:

Leicester, England


Degree in modern languages from Magdalen College, Oxford, 1968

What People are Saying About This

Joseph Heller

"Delightful and enriching...a book to revel in!"

John Irving

"A gem! An unashamed literary novel that is also unashamed to be readable and broadly entertaining. Bravo!"

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Flaubert's Parrot 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am glad to discover this Gem of a book. This is the first title that i had read by Barnes.I'm surprised at what a great writer he is.Though, i cannot say i knew what to expect, it's a great book. I knew next to nothing about Flaubert But the book has made me want to find more out about him, probably read his classic. I enjoy an experimental book and especially one that is well written. it makes me want to go to Egypt, France and Especially England, i believe i will read other titles by Barnes.
aaronbaron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why is our age so preoccupied with mixing fiction and history, particularly literary history? Are we so cowed by the originality of the great artists and works of the last few centuries that we cannot overcome them, so that instead of blazing a new trail we revise existing ones, writing alternative turns, differing perspectives, analytic meditations? Here we have Barnes, clearly a wit with a flare for the written word, passing off a few choice essays on Flaubert as a novel. His ruminations on Flaubert are excellent, full of insight and peppered with an irony and humor that Flaubert himself would have appreciated. They make for enjoyable reading, hence my rating. If only Barnes would just play an honest hand and write about Flaubert! But no, Barnes chose to march in step with the legion of contemporary writers who coat biography and literary analysis with thin fiction. In this case, the ¿fiction¿ part is an anxious narrator with a Flaubert fixation who eventually reveals that his deceased wife was unfaithful. The narrator and his little asides are so anemic that they exasperated my patience. I burrowed through them to get to the bits on Flaubert, the way I once had to eat bitter greens in order to earn another bite of pie. But whereas vegetables actually provide nourishment, the only thing the fiction passages did was to point out, yet again, that the line between fiction and reality is itself a fiction. I found that sort of thinking stark brilliant in college; now it bores me to no end. I so tire of the cowardly writer who either cannot come up with original stories or, even more damning, believe that original stories are somehow naïve. Many such writers love literary history and the great works of the past. Wonderful, so do I. So why not just write about them? Or, if a personal angle is desired, why not write about the impact these works had on us? Why not, in other words, write brave, deeply personal, innovative combinations of biography, memoir, and essays in the manner of Richard Holmes? I wish they would. There are far to many clever ¿meta fictions¿ on the market right now, and far too few good books.
amydross on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, thought-provoking, sometimes hilarious. I'm somewhat interested in Flaubert, but I don't know that it was necessary -- with a narrator this charming and witty, I'd listen to him talk about anything. Except his wife -- I didn't hate the more personal, "novelish" sections, but I wasn't convinced they added much to the book. Nevertheless, a great read.
jdth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely marvelous. I can not escape the idea that this book is a lot more than just Flaubert¿s life. Mme Bovary was considered to be the first ¿novel of realism¿ in the literary world, but Flaubert very much refused to parade around as a contemporary celebrity. I always wonder is there a message here? Read Barnes' other book ¿Something to declare¿ right after this one.
jeanned on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel tries to be, and is, many things: an exploration of the relationship between writer and reader; a treatise on postmodern life; a view of history as reflections in a rippling pond; a story about the displacement of grief through intellectual exercise. While ultimately I appreciated the fractured presentation, I found this Booker Prize nominee and New York Times Editors' Choice to be a difficult and unsatisfying read. I rate it at 6 out of 10 stars.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Flaubert's Parrot is a strange piece of metafiction, narrated by a retired doctor named Geoffrey Braithwaite who considers himself to be an amateur scholar of Flaubert. The plot is ostensibly about Braithwaite's search for the authentic parrot which inspired Flaubert during his writing of En Coeur Simple. But really it is a disconnected set of writings about Flaubert - and pointedly *not* about Braithwaite himselfFlaubert's writing is quoted extensively throughout the novel, with commentary by Braithwaite, and the reader nearly feels like they have a sense of who the writer was. But at the same time, the novel - both in form and content - mocks that assumption and mocks the reader for presuming to find anything worthwhile in a novel. It's a very strange piece of literature; I'm not sure how I feel about it but it is worth exploring
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Goeffrey Braithwait is a retired doctor looking to solve a mystery. Two different museums claim to have Flaubert's muse, a stuffed parrot that sat on Flaubert's desk while he wrote 'Un Coeur simple.' Dr. Braithwait calls himself an amateur scholar of Flaubert and yet he knows the smallest of details about the writer's life which indicate a growing obsession. While the mystery of the two parrots is the token premise of the tale it takes on much more than that. First, it is revealed Dr. Braithwait would like to be an author. He wonders what it would be like to publish. This is a theme that runs concurrent with the search for the correct parrot. In time Dr. Braithwait's wife suicide is revealed. He searches for meaning to her demise. There are multiple personalities of writing styles at play in the telling of Flaubert's Parrot. First, an most obviously, is the fictional/factual biography of Flaubert. Then there is a "Dear Diary" approach to a literacy criticism of Flaubert's work. The writing is sparse and humorous.
catherinestead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a strange amalgam of fictionalised biography, literary criticism and novel, with a light sprinkling of authorial philosophising. It is also considerably more entertaining than I expected.However, it almost seems unable to decide what it wants to be, and some of the comments by the narrator about his own history seem intrusive and out of place. The format of the book is somewhat unorthodox, and I couldn't decide whether it was a success in experimental literature or whether the author was trying to be bold and experimental and just ended up coming across as pretentious. I can't decide what I think about the book - but I shall certainly continue to think about the book even now that I've finished it.
mearso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was a very enjoyable read. Humourous throughout but with ideas too about the search for truth, both in art and in life. The story is of a reitired doctor who has a passion for finding out more about Flaubert. As the story develops it transpires that his wife has committed suicide and his search for the reasons behind Flaubert's work and life echo his search for his wife's suicide.
teunduynstee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is very meta. It's about art and what the work tells about the artist. It's about literary criticism and what it tells about the critic. It's about Flaubert's life. It's about a doctor and fanatic Flaubert lover coming to grips with his own life and his adulterous deceased wife.I have enjoyed other work of Barnes more than Flaubert's Parrot. It is very representative of his work (mixing short stories, literary criticism and journalism into a novel), but in the end, I don't care enough about Flaubert to really love this novel. Two chapters stand out for me and made this book well worth reading: 'Emma Bovary's Eyes', a rant by a fan against a harsh and careless critic, and especially 'Louise Colet's Version'.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most uniquely conceived and structured novels I've come across, this novel is fast and engaging. It reads more like an interesting digest than a single novel, but in the end still works as a unified exploration of one man's engagement with a historical personality's life, art, and loves. Exploring the narrator alongside Flaubert, and exploring anecdotes and quotes alongside a contemporary life, makes this read as much of a mystery as a short and unique engagement with art and life as questions and matches for one another themselves.In short, this novel is fun and engaging, certainly worth the read. Whether you've read Flaubert not at all, recently, or not for a while, this is a worthwhile diversion.
lucasmurtinho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Between literary essay and novel, this book has the good qualities of both genres, but the indecision between them ends up weakining the final result. The chapter on the death of the narrator's wife is quite beautiful, but disconnected of the rest of the novel; most theories about Flaubert and his work are quickly exposed and never amount to much. An excellent read that manages to be disappointing.
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