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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Alphonse Daudet in "Flaubert's Parrot"

Perhaps he is mentioned earlier, but he first caught my attention in the chapter titled Pure Story. Here, and we're twenty pages from the end, we first learn about the intimate details of Braithwaite and his wife, and his wife's death (apparently in England "Not To Be Resuscitated" was at some point euphemized to "No 333").

Anyway, re Daudet: Barnes is comparing early "brothel experiences": Flaubert's (as fictionalized in L'Education sentimentale) and Daudet's:

Perhaps I am too accepting. My own condition is stable, yet hopeless. Perhaps it's just a question of temperament. Remember the botched brothel-visit in L'Education sentimentale and remember its lesson. Do not participate: happiness lies in the imagination, not the act. Pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory. Such is the Flaubertian temperament. Compare the case, and the temperament, of Daudet. His schoolboy visit to a brothel was so uncomplicatedly successful that he stayed there for two or three days. The girls kept him concealed most of the time for fear of a police raid; they fed him on lentils and pampered him thoroughly. He emerged from this giddying ordeal, he later admitted, with a lifelong passion for the feel of a woman's skin, and with a lifelong horror of lentils. 
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