Guide Flaubert and Henry James: A Study in Contrasts

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In his novels, he employed Modernist techniques such as stream-of-consciousness narration to explore the psychology of his characters, focusing in particular on the effect of external events on individual consciousness. Henry James was one of the most prolific writers of the 19th century. Henry James spent the last several years of his life in Great Britain.


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In protest of U. He died of pneumonia on February 28, , a year before the United States entered the war. Henry James was named for his father, a prominent social theorist and lecturer, and was the younger brother of the pragmatist philosopher William James.

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The young Henry was a shy, book-addicted boy who assumed the role of quiet observer beside his active elder brother. They were taken abroad as infants, were schooled by tutors and governesses, and spent their preadolescent years in Manhattan. Returned to Geneva , Paris , and London during their teens, the James children acquired languages and an awareness of Europe vouchsafed to few Americans in their times.

His first story appeared anonymously two years later in the New York Continental Monthly and his first book reviews in the North American Review. By his mids James was regarded as one of the most skillful writers of short stories in America. Critics, however, deplored his tendency to write of the life of the mind, rather than of action. The stories of these early years show the leisurely existence of the well-to-do at Newport and Saratoga. He wrote stories, reviews, and articles for almost a decade before he attempted a full-length novel.

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James never married. Recognizing the appeal of Europe, given his cosmopolitan upbringing, James made a deliberate effort to discover whether he could live and work in the United States. The reason why Flaubert chooses to have a reader-protagonist might lie under the fact that, through reading, Flaubert has the chance of creating a proper dilemma for his woman character. Her reading is considered to be dangerous and even evil. Likewise, Homais warns Justin thinking that he corrupts his children through some harmful texts: "Have you every vice, then, little wretch?

Take care! He is already formed like a man. Are you quite sure, anyhow, that they have not read it? Already bored with the life, first in Tostes then in Yonville, she sets herself apart from the society claiming for herself superiority in intelligence, emotions, and imagination. In this way, she tries to break the narrow domestic sphere she has been confined to.

Charles and Emma actually share a similar past in that they both had a forced education. Similarly, Emma, abandoning the rule books of the convent, would turn to imaginative literature, novels, and romances. The subject matters of these books, which she read in her puberty, covered erotic presentations of adventures and intrigues. Later, in her affairs, Emma expects to find the same kind of sexual experiences mingled with adventure, which is a way of explanation for her adulterous nature.

Carla Peterson argues that through reading Emma perceives abstractions and generalizations as concrete and specific images which she takes literally, trying to transport them to the real life by her imagination which is incapable of synthesizing to unite these ideal images of the world of books as a coherent whole Peterson gives a similar clarification for her confusion between the real world and the imaginative world in her following words: Objects and figures seem to be imprisoned at a great distance from her, frozen like the forms on the decorated plates that have become permanently engraved in her imagination…This detached pose of a viewer of pictures, coupled with the distanced perspective from which Emma reads her romances, clearly testifies her inability to maintain an active relationship with her texts or pictures.

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So instead of immersing herself in situations portrayed in her novels, Emma draws these situations out of the fictional realm and seeks them in real life. In this sense, in Madame Bovary letter writing, journalism, and books are what make reality less reliable because writing is the agent of fantasy. She became herself, as it were, an actual part of these imaginings, and realized the love- dream of her youth as she saw herself in this type of amorous women whom she had so envied. In addition, her continuing of writing romantic letters to Leon although she is aware of the fact that their relationship is almost dead also demonstrates to what extent writing and reading the written in Madame Bovary falsifies reality for Emma.


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  6. The glamorous life narrated in those books lead her to internalize the active role of a heroine first in her marriage to Charles, in which she takes all the responsibility of the household matters, then in her passionate relationship with Rodolphe, in which she plays the role of a lady to be rescued from her prison castle, and lastly in her affair with Leon, in which she makes Leon her mistress. Since the affairs presented by the real world do not introduce romantic gallants, she becomes the energetic party of her dreams, forcing her relationships to accord her imagination.

    Thus, in her expression of her energy and sexuality Emma becomes the representative figure for the Dionysian artist getting rid of all the Apollonian measures Peterson, This complexity in her mind about gender roles she has to play also contributes to her confusion between the real and her imaginative worlds. One of the most obvious demonstrations for her tendency to be manly is her wish to give birth to a son instead of a daughter. She might have the idea that acting as a man defeats the interior inferior woman, thus giving her the possibility of identification and recognition in the society.

    Sometimes, she pretends to be a man through acting: Then she examined the apartment, opened the drawers of the tables, combed her hair with his comb, and looked at herself in his shaving-glass. Often she even put between her teeth the big pipe that lay on the table by the bed, amongst lemons and pieces of sugar near a bottle of water.

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    Moreover, her affinity for being a man is also revealed in her relationship with Leon. She becomes the dominant power in their affair, having the masculine possessiveness. She becomes the active party in her visits to Rouen to see him unlike the expected vice-versa roles. It is also she who urges him to write love poems for her. More, it is she who wants him to dress as she wants to please herself. Therefore, Leon as the younger, less experienced, against the older, mature Emma becomes the inferior force, giving Emma the chance to play the masculine force for which she has been practicing for so long in her life.

    Because of this role-playing Mario Vargas Llosa calls Emma a pathetic character in the following observation: Emma is forever doomed to frustration: as a woman, because the woman in the fictional reality is a subjugated being to whom the world of dreams and passion is forbidden; as a man, because she can reach that world only by turning her lover into a non-entity, incapable of arousing in her an admiration and a respect for the so-called virile virtues, which she has failed to find in her husband and seeks in vain in her lovers.

    This is one of the insoluble contradictions that make Emma a pathetic character. From a Coleridgean perspective, this would fall under and be studied in the issue of the union of subject and object. Poulet argues that the novel in presenting both the objective and the subjective world of Emma equally enhances itself as a more unified whole, which also saves the novel from fragmenting into two separate realities. Charles was a slow eater; she would nibble a few hazel-nuts, or else, leaning on her elbow, would amuse herself making marks on the oilcloth with the point of her table-knife.

    It exemplifies realist presentation because it pays attention to tiny details, no matter how unpleasant. Throughout the book, Flaubert links emotions to objects in this way. In this sense, the general opposition is between the countryside and the city. Therefore, for Emma, life in Tostes and Yonville is associated with boredom, dullness, stifling atmosphere, labor, and marriage whereas life in Rouen opens its gates for excitement, novelty, freshness, entertainment, and adventurous love affairs. She went up the boulevards, stopping at every turning, between the lines of the streets, in front of the white squares that represented the houses.

    At last she would close the lids of her weary eyes, and see in the darkness the gas jets flaring in the wind and the steps of carriages lowered with much noise before the peristyles of theatres. Book Description Palgrave MacMillan, Ships with Tracking Number! Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!.

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