One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Flaubert's "Bouvard and Pecuchet": Literary Chaplin

Perhaps not what I have come to expect from Flaubert, but very entertaining and--from what I've caught in glimpses elsewhere--it'll probably evolve into "something more" than just two Chaplinesque male Parisians--i.e., B. & P.--who retire together, buy a farm, and encounter nothing but bad luck.

And, too, simply because it's Flaubert writing about another place and time, there are various bits and pieces that excite the "collector." Here are a few that I've underlined in my Kindle:

#1. "the eucalyptus, then in the beginning of its fame"

[From Eucalyptus: Its History, Growth, and Utilization by C.H. Sellers]

#2. "the great swing-plough of Mathieu de Dombasle"

[From A History of World Agriculture by Marcel Mazoyer and Laurence Roudart] 

#3. "Tetons de Venus"

[From a newspaper article by Tom Harte in The Southeast Missourian, July 9, 2003]

#4. "Fortunately, they discovered amongst their collection of books Boitard's work entitled L'Architecte des Jardins." 

This book--apparently a landscaping book by Pierre Boitard from 1834 (a copy has recently sold on eBay for over $1000)--gives, via Flaubert's allusions and quotes, some interesting glances on the history of French landscaping.

E.g., from B & P: 
First there is the melancholy and romantic style, which is distinguished by immortelles, ruins, tombs, and "a votive offering to the Virgin, indicating the place where a lord has fallen under the blade of an assassin."


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