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, December 24, 2011

"Flaubert's Parrot": More Schizophrenia

There are fascinating "bits" and meditations on Flaubert.

For example, according to Parrot Flaubert hated trains:

Gustave belonged to the first railway generation in France; and he hated the invention. For a start, it was an odious means of transport. 'I get fed up on a train that after five minutes I'm howling with boredom. Passengers think it's a neglected dog; not at all, it's M. Flaubert, sighing.'
Barnes also quotes from the Dictionnaire de idees recues:

'RAILWAYS: If Napoleon had had them at his disposition, he would have been invincible. Always go into ecstasies about their invention, and say: "I, Monsieur, I who am even now speaking to you, was only this morning at X . . . ; I left by the X-o'clock train; I did the business I had to do there; and by X-o'clock I was back."'
And Gustave was fretting about the iron beasts just before he died:

The penultimate sentence of Gustave's life, uttered as he stood feeling dizzy but not at all alarmed: 'I think I'm going to have a kind of fainting fit. It's lucky it should happen today; it would have been a great nuisance tomorrow, in the train.'
[Note:We do not learn in this passage what Flaubert's ultimate sentence was. Presumably because it's not about trains. Perhaps it is forthcoming.]


I find the bio bits--even Barnes' reflections or speculations on the bio bits--more interesting, more convincing, than the pseudo-profundities (p-p's) that intermittently punctuate the text.

Here's an example of a p-p (Barnes is repeating the first two metaphors and adding a third: the flashing parrot--of course the titular parrot must flit through every other page):

Sometimes the past may be a greased pig; sometimes a bear in its den; and sometimes merely the flash of a parrot, two mocking eyes that spark at you from the forest.
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