Diana Athill

Henry + Jules = Gustave

Flaubert: A Biography


William Heinemann 628pp £25 order from our bookshop

This is a spacious biography, giving the mistaken but agreeable impression that the solid foundations on which it rests are perfectly natural, rather than built by scholarly accumulation of learning. When Frederick Brown’s story leads him to a city, a group of subsidiary characters, the state of medicine in the early nineteenth century, or some crisis in French politics, he follows it into and around them as though he had all the time in the world. I feared at first that this would try one’s patience, but soon found that if one relaxes and allows him to take one with him without fussing, it becomes very rewarding. I emerged from his book knowing a great deal about many events and individuals unfamiliar to me. And, of course, about Gustave Flaubert.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,