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Modernity and Its DiscontentsMaking and Unmaking the Bourgeois from Machiavelli to Bellow$
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Steven B. Smith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198393

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198393.001.0001

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Flaubert and the Aesthetics of the Antibourgeois

Flaubert and the Aesthetics of the Antibourgeois

Chapter:
(p.223) Chapter 11 Flaubert and the Aesthetics of the Antibourgeois
Source:
Modernity and Its Discontents
Author(s):

Steven B. Smith

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300198393.003.0011

Madame Bovary is not a political novel, but it displays all of the contempt for the new bourgeois order that would become a staple of high European modernism. Flaubert saw in his age not the Enlightenment’s dream of progress, reason, and freedom but a world of shallowness, hypocrisy, and stupidity. It was the age of the bourgeois as captured in the loathsome character of the apothecary Homais, a tireless (and tiresome) advocate for public health and a believer in all the nineteenth-century platitudes about progress. Emma Bovary is the mouthpiece of Flaubert’s protest to this world, although her failures signal Flaubert’s profound pessimism about change. He adopted a view of redemption through art that signaled a retreat from the world of society and politics to the private sphere of art and culture.

Keywords:   Bouvard and Pécuchet, Flaubert, Gustave, Little Children (Tom Perrotta), Parnassian liberalism, Redemption through art

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