Gustave_Flaubert_young

M. FLAUBERT

I just recently finished the book My Revolutions by Hari Kunzru, which put me in mind of A Sentimental Education -disillusioned youth, utopian ideologies and violent politics. Maybe no one else would draw this comparison, but I did. One of the most enduring images from Flaubert’s masterpiece, for me at least, is the detailed description of the food. Outside the monarchists and republicans are waging war against each other, barricading the streets and storming the palace, while inside tables are laden with glistening delicacies like exotic fruit. Politically charged youths and disenchanted mobs brazenly ricochet around a city that looks as delicate as a wedding cake, hacking their way through what they believe to be the establishment, while indoors people are dining off tables decorated with dolphins. I guess Flaubert was using food as a metaphor for material worship, an important theme in Madame Bovary as well. Ironically,  it is material things for which Flaubert is being remembered by illustrator and cover designer Joanne Neborsky; inspired by a catalogue of the author’s personal effects taken twelve days after his death. The print available here, seems appropriately detailed, like Flaubert’s writing. The Paris Review has published a Q&A with Neborsky the last question being if someone were to make a poster of your personal belongings, what would it include? Hmmm…lots of books…

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