Early work 1831-1846
Louis XIII - [three pages of school notebook] - Les soirées d’étude - Narrations et discours - Opuscules historiques - La Fiancée et la tombe - la Grand Dame et le joueur de vielle - Un Parfum à sentir - Chronique normande du Xe siècle - La Femme du monde - Un Secret de Philippe le Prudent - La Peste à Florence - Bibliomanie - Rage et impuissance - La Dernière Heure - Une leçon d’histoire naturelle (genre commis) - La Main de fer - Rêve d’enfer - « Quidquid volueris » - Passion et vertu - Loys XI - Agonies - La Danse des morts - Ivre et mort - Mémoires d’un fou - Rome et les Césars - Étude sur Rabelais - Smar - Les Funérailles du Docteur Mathurin - Mademoiselle Rachel - Pyrénées-Corse - [Cahier intime de 1840-1841] - Novembre - L’Education sentimentale (1845) - [Voyage en Italie]
- 1847 : Par les champs et par les grèves (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1849 : La Tentation de Saint-Antoine (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1849-1851 : Voyage en Orient (récit) (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1856 : La Tentation de Saint-Antoine (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1857 : Madame Bovary (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1862 : Salammbô (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1869 : L’Éducation sentimentale (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1874 : Le Candidat (theatre) (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1874 : La Tentation de saint Antoine (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1877 : Trois contes : Un cœur simple, La Légende de Saint-Julien l’Hospitalier, Hérodias (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1880 : Le Château des cœurs (théâtre : féerie) (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
- 1881 : Bouvard et Pécuchet (inachevé) comprenant Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues (En savoir plus sur cette œuvre)
Most of Flaubert’s works and his correspondence (about 4,500 letters), as well as the manuscripts of Madame Bovary and Bouvard and Pécuchet are available online on the Flaubert site of the University of Rouen Normandy: flaubert.univ-rouen.fr
The early works
Flaubert began writing at the age of 9. These are plays, short stories, historical narratives. His early texts are often full of violence. They can be classified in three cycles, in chronological order: a historical cycle, a philosophical and fantastic cycle (which includes Smar, an «vieux mystères» religious) and finally an autobiographical cycle (Les Mémoires d'un fou and Novembre).
In Passion et Vertu (1837), a woman in search of the absolute, abandoned by her lover, poisoned husband and children before poisoning herself. We see Emma Bovary in Mazza and Rodolphe under the features of her seducer, Ernest.
Les Mémoires d'un fou (1838-1839): Flaubert is 17 years old, he reads Rousseau, Musset, Goethe and Byron. This narrative, both fictional and autobiographical, evokes his platonic love for Élisa Schlésinger. The narrator describes first his childhood as an unhappy schoolboy, then, in Trouville, the meeting of Maria, married wife of 10 years his eldest. It contains the premises of the inaugural scene of L'Éducation sentimentale of 1869: A stronger flood had wet the silk fringes of this coat. I removed it to place it further away.” This gesture allowed him to meet Maria. He returns every day to the beach and sinks into an idealized and desperate love. This manuscript will be offered to his friend Alfred Le Poittevin.
L'Éducation sentimentale (1843-1845): Flaubert begins this first novel while he is a law student in Paris and finishes it after a serious nervous crisis, probably epileptic, which interrupts his studies and brings him back to Rouen. This long text is both a review of his youth and the beginning of a new writing. As its title indicates, it is a training novel. Two friends took opposite paths: Henry, a student turned bourgeois, made a beautiful marriage and found himself a minister; Jules, an exalted poet, converted to «pure art» and became a great artist. They both give up sentimentalism.
Flaubert wanted to leave only his works to posterity, faithful to his principle of impersonality. After his death, however, his niece Caroline began publishing his correspondence. A number of letters were destroyed, by Flaubert, by his niece, or by certain recipients. The publisher Louis Conard published the Correspondance in Flaubert’s Complete Works from 1909. Unpublished works were later added. Currently electronic publishing (by Yvan Leclerc and Danielle Girard) provides access to nearly 4,500 letters from Flaubert and over 2,400 letters addressed to it. These letters can be consulted by date, by correspondent, by place of writing and conservation, and by theme (according to four main axes: man, personality, writer and his work.
From 1829 to the year of his death, Flaubert maintained numerous correspondence exchanges with 272 recipients: his family, his friends, Louis Bouilhet, Maxime Du Camp, including famous authors: George Sand, Maupassant, les Goncourt, Tourgueniev... and women, who hold an important place in her life: Louise Colet, Princess Mathilde, Marie-Sophie Leroyer de Chantepie... For this often reclusive man, who is determined to sculpt his sentences, correspondence is a moment of freedom. He talks about his work, his projects, his daily worries and his loves. He usually uses a very free tone, even familiar.
The Correspondence of Flaubert is a major work of our literature. It illuminates his time; he addresses all subjects, topicality, religion, politics, manners, without hesitation to shock. He also shows all the complexity (bourgeois, he criticizes the bourgeoisie). “A document on his time, rich in personal and often profound judgments, […] the Correspondence of Flaubert is above all a “royal way” to penetrate his personality and understand his work” (Jean Bruneau).
The Correspondence reveals the man: Dear Master, I have received the package of books. 'They are now stored before me. I thank you for this gift. We admired and loved you, so you want us to adore you! Where are you now? I am alone, my fire is burning, the rain is constantly falling, I work like a man, I think of you and I embrace you” (letter to George Sand of 12 September 1866).
In another letter to George Sand dated January 1, 1869, he wrote, "Could I make a book in which I would give myself all?" The Correspondence seems to realize this wish.