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Based on Flaubert’s own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Education was described by its author as “the moral history of the men of my generation.” It follows the amorous adventures of Frederic Moreau, a law student who, returning home to Normandy from Paris, notices Mme Arnoux, a slender, dark woman several years older than himself. It is the beginning of a Based on Flaubert’s own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Education was described by its author as “the moral history of the men of my


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Based on Flaubert’s own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Education was described by its author as “the moral history of the men of my generation.” It follows the amorous adventures of Frederic Moreau, a law student who, returning home to Normandy from Paris, notices Mme Arnoux, a slender, dark woman several years older than himself. It is the beginning of a Based on Flaubert’s own youthful passion for an older woman, Sentimental Education was described by its author as “the moral history of the men of my generation.” It follows the amorous adventures of Frederic Moreau, a law student who, returning home to Normandy from Paris, notices Mme Arnoux, a slender, dark woman several years older than himself. It is the beginning of an infatuation that will last a lifetime. He befriends her husband, an influential businessman, and as their paths cross and re-cross over the years, Mme Arnoux remains the constant, unattainable love of Moreau’s life. Blending love story, historical authenticity, and satire, Sentimental Education is one of the great French novels of the nineteenth century.

14 review for Sentimental Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This one is often described as “the novel to end all novels” and I understand why – when you are reading it you say to yourself very frequently “if this is what novels are like I am never going to read another one in my entire life”. From about page 50 until when I stopped, I was having these strong bibliocidal fantasies. I thought – maybe I will leave this accidentally on the bus to work. But I forgot to forget it, like that country song. Then I thought – maybe a column of army ants will chomp This one is often described as “the novel to end all novels” and I understand why – when you are reading it you say to yourself very frequently “if this is what novels are like I am never going to read another one in my entire life”. From about page 50 until when I stopped, I was having these strong bibliocidal fantasies. I thought – maybe I will leave this accidentally on the bus to work. But I forgot to forget it, like that country song. Then I thought – maybe a column of army ants will chomp it up so that not a shred remains. But army ants are never seen in Nottingham, only the friendly variety who bid you good day as they pass by. I tried to donate my copy to Oxfam but the shop assistant, having turned very pale when she saw the title, summoned up a courage I had not thought her to possess and said they could not accept that particular title. When I asked why she referred me to the Oxfam standard operating procedures, something about health and safety, which includes of course mental health. They had accepted copies of Sentimental Education in previous years but there had been some incidents and now all shops had been explicitly warned not to. I see that many of my most respected GR friends hand out the big four and five stars to this novel and describe it as brilliantly comic. I was trembling in my boots until I found that none other than Henry James was on my side. Here is his considered opinion:Here the form and method are the same as in "Madame Bovary"; the studied skill, the science, the accumulation of material, are even more striking; but the book is in a single word a dead one. "Madame Bovary" was spontaneous and sincere; but to read its successor is, to the finer sense, like masticating ashes and sawdust. L'Education Sentimentale is elaborately and massively dreary. That a novel should have a certain charm seems to us the most rudimentary of principles, and there is no more charm in this laborious monument to a treacherous ideal than there is interest in a heap of gravel.However I did notice something what Henry James did not notice, and felt quite smug about that. It is this – that the main part of the plot of Sentimental Education is almost the same as the plot of Shampoo, the Warren Beattie movie from 1975, which I saw only last week so it was fresh in my memory. In Shampoo, hairdresser George’s former girlfriend Jackie now has a rich sugar daddy boyfriend Lester, whose wife Felicia is one of George’s best customers. Naturally George is shagging Felicia as it would seem unkind not to, and, because he keeps bumping into Jackie as they move in the same social circles, he realises he never wanted to break up with her so he starts shagging Jackie as well. Then comes the really shocking scene – Lester’s daughter who I guess is supposed to be around 16 or so comes on to George when he’s visiting Felicia. And she is played by none other than 19 year old Carrie Fisher, two years before Princess Leia. What a shock that was. So in Sentimental Education Frederic, the world’s most dreary young bachelor, wants to shag the wife of Monsieur Arnoux, a publisher. And eventually this guy introduces Frederic to his mistress Roseanne who he’s got fed up with, the idea being that Frederic will take her over, I suppose they used to do this in those days as they did not have Tinder. So Frederic is nearly shagging the guy’s wife and nearly shagging the guy’s mistress at the same time. Just like in Shampoo, except that George the hairdresser was a lot less dreary. Also in Shampoo and Sentimental Education there are these long long long boring party scenes where I think the effect is supposed to be scintillatingly socially satirical. I did not notice any specific Star Wars connections in Sentimental Education, but neither did Henry James.If I am ever taken hostage and this is the only reading material available in my rat infested dungeon then I will definitely finish this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    (Book 858 from 1001 books) - L'Éducation sentimentale = Sentimental Education, Gustave FlaubertSentimental Education is a novel by Gustave Flaubert. Considered one of the most influential novels of the 19th century, it was praised by contemporaries such as George Sand and Emile Zola, but criticized by Henry James. The story focuses on the romantic life of a young man at the time of the French Revolution of 1848.تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پانزدهم ماه آوریل سال 2009میلادیعنوان: تربیت احساسات؛ نویسنده (Book 858 from 1001 books) - L'Éducation sentimentale = Sentimental Education, Gustave FlaubertSentimental Education is a novel by Gustave Flaubert. Considered one of the most influential novels of the 19th century, it was praised by contemporaries such as George Sand and Emile Zola, but criticized by Henry James. The story focuses on the romantic life of a young man at the time of the French Revolution of 1848.تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پانزدهم ماه آوریل سال 2009میلادیعنوان: تربیت احساسات؛ نویسنده: گوستاو فلوبر؛ مترجم: مهدی سحابی؛ تهران، نشر مرکز، 1380؛ در632ص؛ شابک9643056465؛ چاپ دوم سال1385؛ سوم و چهارم 1388؛ شابک9789643056469؛ پنجم 1389؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسه - سده 19معنوان: تربیت احساسات (مکتب عشق، یا سرگذشت یک جوان)؛ نویسنده: گوستاو فلوبر؛ مترجم: فروغ شهاب؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر، 1349؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1395، در بیست و241ص؛ شابک9786004360555؛بر خلاف «مادام بوواری» که در زمان انتشار، بسیار دل انگیز و نامدار بود، بسیاری از هم‌دوره های «فلوبر»، «تربیت احساسات» را، شکستی ادبی دانستند، و اثر را از «دیدگاه اخلاقی» زننده؛ و از «دیدگاه سیاسی» کژاندیشانه، دانستند؛ این اثر سال‌ها در سایه ی درخشندگی «مادام بوواری» چشم به راه میماند، تا اینکه ناقدان آثار این دوران، ارزش ادبی «تربیت احساسات» را، دوباره پیدا میکنند؛ اثری احساسی و شخصی است، که در آن احساسات با شرح رویدادهای تاریخی، در هم می‌آمیزند، بازگشایی دلسردی‌هایی فردی، و نیز در واگویی یاس، و پژمردگی اجتماعی، در پی زوال توهم‌هایی که انگیزه ی تکانه های انقلاب بودند، نوشتارهای خیال بسیار درخشان هستندشخصیت اصلی داستان، جوانی به نام «فردریک مورو» است، که در سفر خویش، با بانویی شوهردار به نام «ماری آنجل» آشنا، و دلباخته ی او میگردد؛ «فردریک» که ساکن شهری کوچک است؛ عمویی ثروتمند در «پاریس» دارد، و امیدوار هست تا از عمو به او ارث برسد؛ «فردریک» وارث ثروت عموی خویش شده، به «پاریس» میرود، و با خانواده ی «ماری آنجل» رفت و آمد میکند، و وارد زندگی «آنجل» میشود، اما از آنجایی که «ماری آنجل» زنی نجیب است؛ «فردریک» برای رسیدن به ایشان، شانسی ندارد، پس سرخورده از آن پیشامد، به سوی زنی بی بند و بار به نام «رزانت» کشیده میشود؛ «رزانت» زیباست و «فردریک» را دوست میدارد، و خواهان زندگی با اوست، اما «فردریک» نمیتواند «ماری آنجل» را فراموش کند، همچنین او کوشش دارد برای بدست آوردن ثروت، با بیوه ای «انگلیسی» پیمان ببندد، اما به یکباره، زمانی که متوجه میشود «ماری» پنهانی از آن شهر فرار کرده، و برای همیشه رفته است، او نیز هم «رزانت» و هم بیوه ی ثروتمند «انگلیسی» را رها میکند؛ سرانجام زمانی که «فردریک» به میانسالی میرسد؛ «ماری» به دیدن او میآید، و بگذشته ها را با هم مرور میکنند، و از او خداحافظی میکند؛ نویسنده در این کتاب در کنار عاشقانه ها، به رویدادهای تاریخی کشور فرانسه ی آن دوران و پژمردگیهای اجتماعی نیز میپردازندتاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 13/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    A "sentimental education" means your first love, and if Frédéric’s not careful he isn’t going to learn shit from it. He’s an aimless, pointless little man, slowly failing to do anything whatsoever with his life. He’s in love with his friend’s wife, and you sortof wish they'd bang just so we'd all have something to watch.“The story or the plot of a novel is quite indifferent to me,” though, Flaubert said. He wanted real life! He’s the champion of realism, the late 1800s movement away from moral l A "sentimental education" means your first love, and if Frédéric’s not careful he isn’t going to learn shit from it. He’s an aimless, pointless little man, slowly failing to do anything whatsoever with his life. He’s in love with his friend’s wife, and you sortof wish they'd bang just so we'd all have something to watch.“The story or the plot of a novel is quite indifferent to me,” though, Flaubert said. He wanted real life! He’s the champion of realism, the late 1800s movement away from moral lessons and towards the real world. It’s brilliant in Madame Bovary, his first novel. By the time he finished Sentimental Education 12 years later in 1862 he seems to have remembered something crucial about the real world: its plot is a fucking mess.Frédéric hems and haws about Madame Arnoux, while having affairs with a trio of other women: a courtesan, the girl next door, a different friend’s wife. They have varying levels of intensity and consummation, from one to….maybe six? Frédéric doesn’t go all the way to ten. Will he get anything going with Madame Arnoux? Certainly not if he’s the one who has to do it. He can’t even get a job. You hear “merciless” about Flaubert a lot, and I appreciate the mercilessness of this picture. There are a lot of dudes like Frédéric in the world, these Cabbage Patch AirPod holders, and Flaubert’s not going to let any of them get away with it. But this is a book Henry James thought was boring. Called it “a curiosity for a literary museum.” Let that sink in for a minute, right? Henry James! If you're boring Henry James, you have a real problem. I couldn’t keep any of the male characters straight. The character arc is more like dropped spaghetti. And when Flaubert decided to write about the real world, he meant the real world, like not just what actually happens but what actually happened, and that means you’re getting the intricate details of the Insurrection of June 1848, which isn’t even France’s best revolution.This isn’t France’s best novel about idle rich idiots fucking each other’s spouses, either. That’s Dangerous Liaisons by a mile. This one has its moments, but mostly it feels as aimless as Frédéric. As aimless as real life, even, and if I wanted that I wouldn’t be reading a book, would I?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. L'Education Sentimentale is well known to be one of Woody Allen's favourite books, and it explores one of Allen's favourite themes. Whether life is a tragedy or a comedy depends on hair-fine nuances. Melinda and Melinda is probably the clearest example: the perspective constantly, and rather confusingly, shifts back and forward between comedy and tragedy. A bit later, he redid the idea in a more convincing way, as the linked pair Match Point (the tragedy) and Scoop (the comedy). In the same spir L'Education Sentimentale is well known to be one of Woody Allen's favourite books, and it explores one of Allen's favourite themes. Whether life is a tragedy or a comedy depends on hair-fine nuances. Melinda and Melinda is probably the clearest example: the perspective constantly, and rather confusingly, shifts back and forward between comedy and tragedy. A bit later, he redid the idea in a more convincing way, as the linked pair Match Point (the tragedy) and Scoop (the comedy). In the same spirit, here's a linked pair of reviews. I wrote the tragic one first, but then felt that I really needed to balance it with a comic version.________________________Tragic reviewO Hamlet, speak no more:Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;And there I see such black and grained spotsAs will not leave their tinct.I'm afraid it's not exactly a fun beach read. If L'Education Sentimentale doesn't make you feel uneasy, you're either a remarkably secure person or you decided to quit before reaching the end. And Flaubert does a good job of sneaking up on you: for the first hundred pages or so, I felt it was one of those books where nothing was going to happen, and it wasn't until I was about halfway through that I really began to feel disquieted. He's good.On the surface, it's unremarkable, except for the lovely prose. Frédéric is a stupid and shallow young man in 1840s France. After a chance meeting on a boat, he conceives a passion for Mme. Arnoux, a beautiful married woman. He manages to insinuate himself into her husband's social circle, and becomes friendly with him. After a while, M. Arnoux trusts young Frédéric enough that he introduces him to his mistress, the charming and scatterbrained Roseanette. Frédéric falls for her too, and then his romantic life becomes even more complicated. I'll try to avoid dropping any more spoilers, but I thought I should convince you that it's definitely not a book where nothing happens: as in Madame Bovary and Salammbô, there's ample sex and violence. So, why's it so disquieting? One way to explain is to compare with two other novels, which were written not long after and certainly, at least in part, were inspired by it. In Proust's Le Côté de Guermantes, Marcel becomes as obsessed with the Duchesse de Guermantes as Frédéric does with Mme. Arnoux, but by the end of the novel he's got over her; we get a detailed account of how her charm gradually fades away, so that he can finally see her objectively. It's disappointing, but extremely rational. And in Maupassant's Bel-Ami, Georges Duroy cleverly exploits his series of mistresses to become rich and successful; this time, you're shocked at how cold-blooded he is, but it's also rational. I thought at several points that Frédéric was going to take one of these paths; he doesn't. The novel's extraordinary strength is to get inside his mind as he dithers between the various women he's involved with, and demonstrate how he simply isn't capable of any kind of rational thought whatsoever. He's with X, and Flaubert shows with his usual exactitude how blissfully in love he is with her. Then, a few pages later, he's with Y, and his protestations of eternal devotion don't come across as hypocritical: much worse, they're sincere! And, in the next chapter, with Z... well, you get the picture. It's horrifyingly well done.In the middle of all this, the Revolution of 1848 breaks out. (By the way: if you're as ignorant about French history as I am, I strongly recommend getting an annotated edition. Flaubert assumes you know the story already, and keeps referring to people and events I'd never heard of - I was flipping to the endnotes like I was reading Infinite Jest). I did wonder for a moment what the politics had to do with the main story; alas, that rapidly becomes clear too. Like the eponymous hero of the Rabbit series, Frédéric is constitutionally incapable of seeing past the end of his own dick. The fact that France has been given a once-in-a-century chance to establish a fairer and more democratic government completely escapes him. There is a magnificent sequence where a major event has occurred, and people are shooting at each other in the streets; all Frédéric can think about is the fact that he's missed an important date with one of his loved ones. I was strongly reminded of the scene near the beginning of Shaun of the Dead, where Shaun, who's just been dumped by his girlfriend, stumbles home in a daze while somehow managing not to notice that London is being invaded by flesh-eating zombies.You will gather that L'Education Sentimentale does not present a positive and uplifting view of human nature. If only it were ugly or hastily written, one could dismiss it. But no: as always with Flaubert, it's meticulously crafted and a delight to read. A lot of the time, it's even funny. You may occasionally want to fling it across the room; more often, you're going to react with a wry smile. He's witty and entertaining. I started with a quote from Hamlet, arguably one of the book's ancestors, and I'll conclude with one from Cat's Cradle, probably a great-grandson, and also a very funny book. Here's Kurt Vonnegut on the same subject.And I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled 'What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experiences of the Past Million Years?'It doesn't take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.This is it:'Nothing.' ________________________Comic review["Sex and the City" theme tune. CARRIE is lying across her bed typing industriously on her laptop]CARRIE: [voiceover] I read that over 60% of all American men cheat on their partners. That's a lot of cheating. It's happened to me. It's happened to my best friends. It may have happened to you. And, the other day, I started wondering [the title comes up as she speaks the words] When Men Cheat On Their Partners, What Are They Really Thinking?[Dissolve to a trendy Manhattan restaurant. CARRIE is sitting alone at a table set for four people, reading a paperback novel. Camera zooms in to show the title, "Sentimental Education"]CARRIE: [turns a page, and shakes her head reflectively] Jeez![CARRIE is so engrossed that she doesn't notice that CHARLOTTE, SAMANTHA and MIRANDA have arrived, and are looking at her curiously.]CHARLOTTE: Good, isn't it?CARRIE: [starts violently] Uh... yes! So you've read it too? Don't tell me how it ends...SAMANTHA: [checking to see how far CARRIE has got] Oh, you're nearly finished. You know, this reminds me of something that happened to Charlotte and me a few years ago. [She gives CHARLOTTE a teasing look] You don't mind?CHARLOTTE: Um...CARRIE: [voiceover] Charlotte did mind, but Samantha steamrollered her.SAMANTHA: [steamrollering her] Come on, babe, all ancient history now! But we need some cocktails first. [To waiter] Four Cosmopolitans!CARRIE: [voiceover] This was during Charlotte's first marriage, a period she doesn't like to talk about. Her husband Jack was a lot older than her.[Montage. CHARLOTTE'S FIRST HUSBAND evidently doesn't take her seriously.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Samantha hadn't yet discovered she had a talent for PR. She was wondering if she would make it as an actress.[Montage. SAMANTHA's movie roles don't require her to wear much.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Samantha was also a close friend of Jack.[Montage. JACK and SAMANTHA are having noisy sex. Dissolve back to restaurant.]SAMANTHA: [smiles and pats CHARLOTTE on the arm] Of course, Charlotte and I didn't know each other yet. CARRIE: [voiceover] Now Jack ran this publishing company. He had a cute intern called Fred. One day, Fred met Charlotte.[Dissolve back to the past. Montage. FRED, very young and innocent, meets CHARLOTTE. He's obviously smitten.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred had never seen anyone so beautiful in his life. He immediately knew he could never love another woman. But how could he meet her again? [FRED looks sad and pensive, then suddenly brightens up.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred needed to get friendly with Jack.[Montage. JACK is talking, FRED is hanging on his every word.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Jack liked the attention. He started inviting Fred to his dinner parties.[Montage. Dinner party at JACK and CHARLOTTE's. FRED gazes raptly at CHARLOTTE, while she ignores him.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Jack had really got to trust Fred. He started taking him to parties at Samantha's place too.[Montage. A much wilder party. FRED looks embarrassed, but is clearly eyeing up SAMANTHA]CARRIE: [voiceover] Pretty soon, Fred had fallen for Samantha as well. Oh, and somewhere around here he went back to Wisconsin for a couple of months and managed to get engaged to the girl next door.[Montage. FRED is with the adoring GIRL-NEXT-DOOR, who's even younger and more innocent-looking than he is. Dissolve back to restaurant. MIRANDA is struggling to keep up with the story.]MIRANDA: So, uh, let me see, he can only love Charlotte but he's got the hots for Samantha and he's engaged to the girl next door?[CHARLOTTE looks like she wants to sink through the floor. She takes a large sip of her cocktail. SAMANTHA is having fun.]SAMANTHA: [to MIRANDA] Don't worry, babe, it hasn't got complicated yet.CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred made progress with Charlotte. She let him hold her hand while she told him about her problems. But that's all that happened.[Montage. FRED and CHARLOTTE gaze soulfully into each other's eyes, go for walks hand-in-hand, pick flowers, etc]CARRIE: [voiceover] Obviously, Fred wanted more. He made a date with Charlotte at the New York apartment he'd just started renting. This was going to be it.[Montage. FRED, in an agony of suspense, is waiting outside the apartment block. He keeps looking at his watch.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Unfortunately, the date was September 11, 2001.[Montage. The Twin Towers erupt in flames. People screaming in the streets. FRED is still looking at his watch as they stream past.]CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred was so angry with Charlotte for not turning up. He went to see Samantha.[Montage. FRED and SAMANTHA are having sex. Dissolve back to restaurant.]SAMANTHA: [elaborate shrug] Well, I needed a fuck pretty bad.CARRIE: [voiceover] Fred liked being with Samantha. But deep down, he never forgave her for making him betray his true love. He started seeing someone else, the wife of a rich banker.[Montage. FRED is having sex with RICH BANKER WIFE. Back to restaurant.]MIRANDA: [completely lost] So, he's sleeping with you and the banker's wife because he can't be with his true love? And what's with the fiancée?SAMANTHA: [large sip of cocktail] That's it, babe. He thought it was my fault, and the banker's wife's fault. And maybe the fiancée's fault too, but I was never quite sure about that. Of course, it all ended in tears.[Montage. SEVERAL WOMEN are yelling at FRED, throwing things, etc]SAMANTHA: [back in restaurant] Your friend Stanford told Charlotte and me we should read Sentimental Education. He was right. It's just uncanny. Flaubert is a bit of an asshole, but he sure spills the beans on how men think when they cheat. It helped. [putting an arm around CHARLOTTE] And somehow, Charlotte and I ended up friends. Sorry babe. [She drains her glass. CHARLOTTE drains hers and hugs her back. There are tears in her eyes.]CARRIE: [voiceover] I swear, I'd become a lesbian if I didn't like cock so much. And I wish I'd read Flaubert earlier.[Theme music, credits]

  5. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    An exhausting thrill-ride through the zany world of womanising socialite Frédéric, or—for the first 300 pages, at least—wannabe womanising socialite Frédéric. Because Frédéric can’t make it happen with his mate Arnoux’s missus, nor his mate Arnoux’s mistress, this frustration is the bane of his existence as he falls in and out of money, society and love. Against the backdrop of the 1848 Paris uprising this novel heaves with ornate descriptive grandeur, political commentary and violence, a frenet An exhausting thrill-ride through the zany world of womanising socialite Frédéric, or—for the first 300 pages, at least—wannabe womanising socialite Frédéric. Because Frédéric can’t make it happen with his mate Arnoux’s missus, nor his mate Arnoux’s mistress, this frustration is the bane of his existence as he falls in and out of money, society and love. Against the backdrop of the 1848 Paris uprising this novel heaves with ornate descriptive grandeur, political commentary and violence, a frenetic comic energy, and more love triangles than the HMS Hefner in Bermuda. A classic that delights, frustrates, amuses and teases in equal measure—what more could you ask for? Sex? Well, there’s no sex. You have sex on the brain, you do. Take a cold shower.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Jackson

    THIS BOOK. Some of the most consistently astonishing prose I've read - whether decadent all-night parties, violent street battles, or intimate scenes of friendship and love. Exquisite construction + moments of gut-punch emotion. A vibrant and still-modern book about illusions, youth, politics, failure. The artistic equivalent of a $200,000 bottle of wine. Surely one of the greatest novels ever written. THIS BOOK. Some of the most consistently astonishing prose I've read - whether decadent all-night parties, violent street battles, or intimate scenes of friendship and love. Exquisite construction + moments of gut-punch emotion. A vibrant and still-modern book about illusions, youth, politics, failure. The artistic equivalent of a $200,000 bottle of wine. Surely one of the greatest novels ever written.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Look, its Flaubert. I don't have any fault to find with this writing. But I've still got 100 pages to go and its been weeks and I have no intention of finishing this. I get these characters- way waaay too much. I want to claw my eyes out rather than spend any more time with them though.So probably too good a job, M. Flaubert. But I'd prefer to spend time with Emma so many times over. Even at her most whiny.Review to come. Look, its Flaubert. I don't have any fault to find with this writing. But I've still got 100 pages to go and its been weeks and I have no intention of finishing this. I get these characters- way waaay too much. I want to claw my eyes out rather than spend any more time with them though.So probably too good a job, M. Flaubert. But I'd prefer to spend time with Emma so many times over. Even at her most whiny.Review to come.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Lentz

    The French word for sentiment is "sentiment" (san-tee-mon). So Flaubert is concerned essentially about what a young French man, presumably him, has learned about love and lust, affection and disaffection, friendship and betrayal, loyalty and disloyalty, admiration and disdain, and other sentiments. He writes precisely within the complex pixilist history of a turbulent political era for France as new liberal rights emerge versus the power of kings and their conservative bedfellows. There is blood The French word for sentiment is "sentiment" (san-tee-mon). So Flaubert is concerned essentially about what a young French man, presumably him, has learned about love and lust, affection and disaffection, friendship and betrayal, loyalty and disloyalty, admiration and disdain, and other sentiments. He writes precisely within the complex pixilist history of a turbulent political era for France as new liberal rights emerge versus the power of kings and their conservative bedfellows. There is blood in the streets of Paris and against this chaotic backdrop we find a macro-view of the turbulent Paris embedded with Flaubert's micro-view of his protagonist, Frederic Moreau. He is an intellectual who has made a complete hash of his love life as he falls into virtually every emotional trap available to a member of his gender. He seeks love affairs with beautiful, married women who admire but are unavailable to him. He seeks wealth through dangerous liaisons with influential, politically connected women who play him. He seeks the company of a woman of the streets who must be with other men in order to make her living. He is a negligent and unwilling father to a child. Despite his affluence and intellect, in matters of love Moreau is completely inept. He repeatedly surrenders to his emotions and loses control of his life. He conducts his personal life so idiotically that I found it difficult to respect Moreau: he is very nearly a complete idiot, in the literal sense of Dostoevsky, who suffers for the failures of his personal life and should. I sense that Flaubert wanted us to like Moreau and perhaps even view him heroically. Neither happened for me in my reading of this great literary masterwork. I do understand that Flaubert wants Moreau to seem all-too-human and find it credible that any man could be susceptible to the sentiments of Moreau. I also find credible that men make mistakes by giving all to the heart as do women. Certainly, as Flaubert reminds us in the title of his literary novel, the lessons of love are instructive despite their pain and etch upon our souls the scars of their teaching. We love and learn, don't we, when feeling drives us excessively to act without regard, foresight or respect for unintended consequences. Flaubert immerses this tale in the politics of his day and if you understand them, all the better. If you don't, then Flaubert wants to school you in them. On a grander scale the common sentiments of one man can be seen to be reflected in the evolution of a nation and its political life for better or worse. How to navigate as only one human within the mass of humanity of one's own civilization also leads Moreau into grand dilemmas that he can't win and traps from which he cannot entirely extricate himself. Again, this is the human condition and there is no better place to experience and observe it than in Paris in the mid-19th century. His view is epic in scope much like Balzac's "Human Comedy" another true literary masterpiece that I can't recommend highly enough. I respect Flaubert and have no doubt that he personally experienced the full range of human sentiment leading to the education reported so eloquently in this literary novel. I just didn't like Moreau although I understand him well. Perhaps, Moreau is like us in so many ways that some of us are incapable of admitting to admiring him. Perhaps, he is simply an anti-hero as Moreau is the penultimate Adam-afer-the-Fall. He is well schooled in the dangerous risks of sentiment but he just can't help himself and he creates so much total chaos in his life every time he succumbs to sentiment. Flaubert in the tone of the French seems so blase about his many colossal moral lapses. I understand Moreau only too well. I see much of myself in him and perhaps so will you. But if you think you can spare yourself by educating yourself in the painful lessons of sentiment of Frederic Moreau, you will be seriously challenged, if you lead a full life, to avoid sentiment as a ruling passion that guides you. If you can see something of yourself from your past in him, so much the better. At a minimum consider yourself well warned by Flaubert: our sentiments drive us to the brink of madness and may well push us over it. You may misunderstand your own sentiment to believe you can fully control it as, despite your best efforts to learn from it, sentiment defines both your character and your destiny. Read this great book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    Long time friends will know I have a great love of the English novel of the nineteenth century, but, heavens, it’s a ponderous beast when compared to this work by Flaubert. Written in 1869 this feels a far more modern novel , with a rapid pace which covers events in two chapters that it takes most contemporaneous novels a volume to deal with. Indeed it would be hard to imagine such a swift style ever use in 1800s Britain, if anything it feels more appropriate to a novel about 1960’s Carnaby Stre Long time friends will know I have a great love of the English novel of the nineteenth century, but, heavens, it’s a ponderous beast when compared to this work by Flaubert. Written in 1869 this feels a far more modern novel , with a rapid pace which covers events in two chapters that it takes most contemporaneous novels a volume to deal with. Indeed it would be hard to imagine such a swift style ever use in 1800s Britain, if anything it feels more appropriate to a novel about 1960’s Carnaby Street. The morality too is much different to straight-laced Victoriana, with the lead character spending most of the book in love with a married woman and even scheming on how best to get her into bed. This is before he actually moves in with the woman of easy virtue.Frederic Moreau is the young antihero: a lazy, feckless, amoral and envious sort, who we follow through this tumultuous period of French history. (Flaubert is superb at weaving his characters into real events, although if – like me – you don’t have expert knowledge of this era then an edition with good notes is essential). Thinking of the 1960s may actually be a good window for the modern reader to start reading this book, there is the social mobility, the tumultuous times, the ambitious young men and the sex (if not the drugs and rock’n’roll). Covering a number of years Flaubert follows his character as he succeeds and then fails many times over until the reader, whilst still probably not liking him, does understand him and the world he lives in.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Dubois

    Oh, I who adore Flaubert! how is it that I haven’t liked The Sentimental Education? We wish so much we loved everything that comes from the ones we love, do we?The Sentimental Education is the journey of a young man — Frederic, the man of all weaknesses — and other men, who dreams of great love and life, but who deliberately spoils himself in sordid loves. Indeed, the woman he loves is married and their love is impossible. Without living like a monk, the young man, whom Flaubert describes as bea Oh, I who adore Flaubert! how is it that I haven’t liked The Sentimental Education? We wish so much we loved everything that comes from the ones we love, do we?The Sentimental Education is the journey of a young man — Frederic, the man of all weaknesses — and other men, who dreams of great love and life, but who deliberately spoils himself in sordid loves. Indeed, the woman he loves is married and their love is impossible. Without living like a monk, the young man, whom Flaubert describes as beautiful, and rather intelligent, could, even after going astray, even after making many errors, he could have done something good in his life but ... read the book!Ok, maybe you won’t, so here’s what I thought of it:First, the main character is a man, and right now, I’m a bit fed up with stories by men and on men. This said, him and his friends — men — were totally indifferent to me, because … well… why? Because even if the writing is perfect, the story excellent, the characters are who they are, but here’s what happens: the novel is cold; and this is because Flaubert absolutely didn’t want the reader to guess what he, the author, thought or felt about the characters he imagined. So the result is that me, reader, felt only indifference for the characters.If you want to learn about the 1848 French Revolution, the troubled times up to the coup d'état of 1851, this novel is for you; historically, it’s very instructive, read it!If you’re fed up with all those men doing war for what the call good reasons, men who are so naïve that they think that a Republic can make the world happy; men so rogues, wily, that they want to rule their country not for the happiness of its inhabitants, but for their own interest; men with so little conscience, that they tell their love to a woman and sleep with another one, out of interest; if you’re fed up with this ascertainment, don’t read it!Finally, the characters I was most attached to, were the women; Flaubert, who’s always been curious about women’s secret lives, describes here four women totally different from each other, complex, just trying to deal with this men’s world and the role they’re told by them to play. So if you wish to read about 19th women characters, read it!If you are not mentally strong enough to bear Flaubert's disillusionment about Men and pessimism, don’t read it!If you’re an admirer of Flaubert’s culture, intelligence, kindness, read it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Pretty much the best thing ever. Not really Maybe. Yeah, it's 500 pages long and about a guy who wastes his life and is incredibly selfish and everyone else he knows is even worse ). And yeah, not much happens, especially in the first 200 pages or so. YET the book manages to be fucking intoxicating. The writing is precise, trenchant, etc, as expected, and perhaps because of this it is insanely simple to just get immersed in this world of 1840s Paris. (I know this is selling it on a pretty base l Pretty much the best thing ever. Not really Maybe. Yeah, it's 500 pages long and about a guy who wastes his life and is incredibly selfish and everyone else he knows is even worse ). And yeah, not much happens, especially in the first 200 pages or so. YET the book manages to be fucking intoxicating. The writing is precise, trenchant, etc, as expected, and perhaps because of this it is insanely simple to just get immersed in this world of 1840s Paris. (I know this is selling it on a pretty base level, but if you're nostalgic at all for the Paris of narrow alleys by candlelight, when Montmarte was mines and farmland, I can't imagine a better read.) And there's the politics of the thing, which somehow seem relevant to me as a 21-year-old in America in 2011. One might draw parallels between the characters of the book who want to radicalize shit like their parents did before in the Revolution and the children of baby boomers, but the youthful striving for change only to be met with later disenchantment is archetypical, though here portrayed so closely that it never feels "archetypical" or "thematic," just like the shit that actually happened.The Intro to my Penguin mentions that this was Kafka's favorite, and I've been wrapping my head around why he, of all people, loved the thing and what he might have aped from it (besides perhaps when Frederic is referred to as "K."). One idea: the immersiveness, again, the sense that there are things about this world we don't know, that are mysterious and beautiful, managing to make the mysterious and beautiful out of material that is, in essence, banal and hopeless. And I was being a little harsh on Frederic before; he's not a complete shit (just mostly a shit). In dealing with the Frederic/Arnoux relationship, I think Flaubert actually painted the characters with just a touch of sympathy. Like 10% sympathy for 90% satire and suspicion. Which is about what most humans deserve.

  12. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    More than likely the great-grandfather of texts such as The Savage Detectives on the one hand and American Pie on the other, this may be the archetype (though not the prototype) for all 'numbnut college bros chase tail' narratives. Its setting during the 1848 revolution tips it decisively toward Bolano in content--but that severe window dressing doesn't hide its trifling essence, aptly expressed by one pie-fucker as "the most equitable and forcible position is to have no opinion at all." We see More than likely the great-grandfather of texts such as The Savage Detectives on the one hand and American Pie on the other, this may be the archetype (though not the prototype) for all 'numbnut college bros chase tail' narratives. Its setting during the 1848 revolution tips it decisively toward Bolano in content--but that severe window dressing doesn't hide its trifling essence, aptly expressed by one pie-fucker as "the most equitable and forcible position is to have no opinion at all." We see the interpenetration of two subject matters--affairs of state and affairs of marriage--in the novel's recognition that "this Republic of yours has to be kept like a mistress," a recombination of the classical polis and oikos over whose improvident fusion Greek tragedy obsessed. One socialist character is upbraided for "his sense of duty or a desire to exercise despotic authority," a zone of indistinction that applies both to a republic and to a mistress. A devotee of de Maistre, by contrast, a precursor to Trump and his cultists, "had doubts about the most well-established facts, contradicted history, and disputed things whose certainty could not be questioned; so that at the mention of the word 'geometry,' he exclaimed: 'what a joke this geometry is!'" Some things haven't changed, in rightwing politics or in marital affairsAll that said, this one is definitely a tragedy, but not a bloody Senecan exercise, considering the trajectory of the protagonist, who fears the "emptiness of his hopes" and "profound intellectual solitude," both emblematic of the erimo technis, a kenomatic state wherein "public affairs had become utterly unimportant to him, so deeply preoccupied he by his private concerns"--a reduction to the status of bare life for its own sake, collapsed to a singularity of lumpenized antisocial nihilism. Good times.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    Flaubert was Kafka's favorite author, and A Sentimental Education his favorite novel. After rereading this book, I think I can understand why. Flaubert's "story of a young man" is the story of a rather witless protagonist and his almost indistinguishable set of friends and lovers, each immersed in her or his illusions, each almost equally stupid (in the phenomenological sense). There is indeed a "sentimental" romance at its heart, which is more or less a disappointment stretching from the first Flaubert was Kafka's favorite author, and A Sentimental Education his favorite novel. After rereading this book, I think I can understand why. Flaubert's "story of a young man" is the story of a rather witless protagonist and his almost indistinguishable set of friends and lovers, each immersed in her or his illusions, each almost equally stupid (in the phenomenological sense). There is indeed a "sentimental" romance at its heart, which is more or less a disappointment stretching from the first page to the last. There's no redemption; no meaning.I had to fight myself to finish this book. It wasn't until almost the last sentence of Part II that it captured me. By the end I was delighted with this tale in which nothing really happens, in which no one accomplishes anything – all captured in Flaubert's perfect prose. Here we are at the very end (spoiler alert):They'd both been failures, the one who'd dreamed of Love and the one who'd dreamed of Power. How had it come about?"Perhaps it was lack of perseverance?" said Frédéric."For you maybe. For me it was the other way round, I was too rigid, I didn't take into account a hundred and one smaller things that are more crucial than all the rest. I was too logical and you were too sentimental."Then they blamed it on their bad luck, the circumstances, the times in which they'd been born.The future of such hapless characters is not, as I'd imagined, in Proust (for example) but in Kafka and Beckett.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    Flaubert in this novel presents us with a woman who is the antithesis of Madame Bovary. Madame Arnoux remains the loyal, virtuous wife, despite her husband's numerous failings (he is both financially and sexually incontinent) and the sustained passionate attentions of the books's protagonist Frederic Moreau.It is an interesting contemplation of the nature of love and lust and how the two are distinguished. How the desire to possess that which one is denied can become an obsession and one which c Flaubert in this novel presents us with a woman who is the antithesis of Madame Bovary. Madame Arnoux remains the loyal, virtuous wife, despite her husband's numerous failings (he is both financially and sexually incontinent) and the sustained passionate attentions of the books's protagonist Frederic Moreau.It is an interesting contemplation of the nature of love and lust and how the two are distinguished. How the desire to possess that which one is denied can become an obsession and one which can fade when fulfilment is possible. Henry James described it as, "elaborately and massively dreary" and that there was no more charm in it than in a heap of gravel and while I don't agree I suspect what he was relating to is the fact that the characters all suffer from human and moral frailty. Despite the title there is no sentimentality from Flaubert towards his players, just the truth of their actions and intentions. There is no judgement for any actions the characters undertake, just a beautifully written tale of people facing their inner turmoil against a backdrop of political unrest.

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