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Gustave Flaubert Quotes

40 of the best book quotes from Gustave Flaubert
  1. #1
    “In Eugene Sue, she studied descriptions of furnishings; she read Balzac and George Sand, seeking in them the imagined satisfaction of her own desires.”
  2. #2
    “Where did it come from, this feeling of deprivation, this instantaneous decay of the things in which she put her trust?”
  3. #3
    “The universe, for him, did not extend beyond the silken round of her skirts.”
  4. #4
    “She looked extraordinarily beautiful to him, and majestic as a phantom; without understanding what she wanted, he had a foreboding of something terrible.”
  5. #5
    “‘Have you ever had the experience,’ Leon went on, ‘while reading a book, of coming upon some vague idea that you’ve had yourself, some obscure image that comes back to you from far away and seems to express absolutely your most subtle feelings?’”
  6. #6
    “In the immensity of this future that she conjured for herself, nothing specific stood out: the days ... were as near alike as waves are.”
  7. #7
    “With Walter Scott, later, she became enamored of things historical, dreamed of studded leather chests, guardrooms, and troubadours…. At that time she worshiped Mary Stuart and felt an ardent veneration for illustrious or ill-fated women.”
  8. #8
    “Nothing around them had changed; and yet, for her, something more momentous had happened than if the mountains had been shoved aside.”
  9. #9
    “Her will, like the veil strung to her bonnet, flutters in every breeze; always there is the desire urging, always the convention restraining.”
  10. #10
    “Don’t you know there are some souls that are constantly tormented? They need dreams and action, one after the other, the purest passions, the most frenzied pleasures, and it leads them to throw themselves into all sorts of fantasies and follies.”
  1. #11
    “Once in the middle of the day, in the open country, just as the sun beat most fiercely against the old plated lanterns, a bared hand passed beneath the small blinds of yellow canvas, and threw out some scraps of paper that scattered in the wind, and farther off lighted like white butterflies on a field of red clover all in bloom.”
  2. #12
    “It didn’t matter. She was not happy and never had been. Why was life so inadequate, why did the things she depended on turn immediately to dust?… Yet if somewhere there existed a strong, handsome being, with a valorous nature, at once exalted and refined, with the heart of a poet in the shape of an angel, a lyre with strings of brass, sounding elegiac epithalamiums to the heavens, then why mightn’t she, by chance, find him?”
  3. #13
    “‘Yet they’re tiresome in the end,’ Emma said; ‘these days, what I really adore are stories that can be read all in one go, and that frighten you. I detest common heroes and moderate feelings, the sort that exist in real life.‘”
  4. #14
    “She had bought herself a blotter, a writing case, a pen and some envelopes, although she had no one to write to; she would dust off her whatnot, look at herself in the mirror, pick up a book, then begin to daydream between the lines and let it fall to her lap. She longed to travel, or to go back and live in the convent. She wanted both to die and to live in Paris.”
  5. #15
    “Her heart was just like that: contact with the rich had left it smeared with something that would never fade away.”
  6. #16
    “‘My wife doesn’t have much interest in that,’ said Charles. ‘Even though she has been told she ought to exercise, she’d rather stay in her room all the time and read.‘”
  7. #17
    ″[Charles] seemed to her contemptible, weak and insignificant, a poor man in every sense of the word. How could she get rid of him? What an endless evening! She felt numb, as though she had been overcome by opium fumes.”
  8. #18
    “Beautiful teeth, black eyes, dainty feet, and graceful as a Parisian. How the devil did she get here? How did such a clumsy oaf ever get a wife like that?”
  9. #19
    “The housewives all admired [Emma] for her thriftiness, Charles’s patients for her courtesy, the poor for her generosity.
    Yet she was full of covetous desires, anger and hatred. The smooth folds of her dress concealed a tumultuous heart, and her modest lips told nothing of her torment”
  10. #20
    “Sometimes, it is true, she tried to make a few calculations, but she always ended with such exorbitant figures that she could not believe them; she would then begin all over again, quickly become confused, drop the whole matter and forget about it.”

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  1. #21
    “Her sadness had melted away in the warmth of her surroundings.”
  2. #22
    “Her father, a mason, had died in a fall from some scaffolding. Then her mother died, her sisters scattered, and a farmer took her in and employed her, small as she was, to look after the cows in the fields. She would shiver in her rags, drink pond water lying flat on her stomach, and be beaten for the slightest reason, and was finally thrown out over a theft of thirty sols which she had not committed.”
  3. #23
    “Her sorrow was extreme. She threw herself on the ground, screamed, appealed to God, and wept all alone in the fields until the sunrise. Then she returned to the farm and announced that she wanted to leave.”
  4. #24
    “This place, where few were admitted, was like a mixture of a chapel and a bazaar, full of religious objects and the most varied assortment of things.”
  5. #25
    “Her daughter’s absence was very painful at first. But three times a week she would receive a letter from her, and on the other days she would write to her. She would also walk in her garden, or read a little, and in this way she filled the long, empty hours.”
  6. #26
    “Madame Aubain’s despair was boundless. At first she rebelled against God, finding him unjust for having taken her daughter – she who had never done anything bad, and whose conscience was so pure! [. . .] She blamed herself, wished she could join her, cried out in distress in her dreams.”
  7. #27
    “All the old things which Madame Aubain no longer wanted, she took for her room.”
  8. #28
    “What especially upset her was having to abandon her room – so ideal for poor Loulou.”
  9. #29
    “Whenever clouds gathered and thunder rumbled, he cried out, perhaps remembering the showers of his native forests.”
  10. #30
    “Walking back past the roadside cross, Félicité decided to commend to God what she cherished the most. She stood there for a long time, looking up at the sky and praying, her face bathed in tears.”
  1. #31
    “All at once she felt weak, and the misery of her childhood, the disappointment of her first love, her nephew’s departure, the death of Virginie, all swept over her like a wave, rising into her throat, choking her.”
  2. #32
    “For a hundred francs a year, she did the cooking and the housework, she sewed, washed and ironed, she could bridle a horse, fatten the poultry and churn the butter, and she was unfailingly loyal to her mistress, even though the latter was not a pleasant person.”
  3. #33
    “By the time she reached her fifties, she was ageless—and, with her constant silence, her upright figure and her measured gestures, she seemed like a woman made out of wood, a kind of automaton that moved without thinking. ”
  4. #34
    ″[. . . H]e proposed marriage. She did not believe him at first, but he swore solemnly that he meant it.”
  5. #35
    “His white cravat, his bald head, the jabot of his shirt, his roomy brown frock coat, the way he bent his arm when he took snuff – everything about him produced in her the kind of agitation we feel in the presence of extraordinary men. ”
  6. #36
    “Paul explained these engravings to Félicité. It was the only book learning she had ever received. ”
  7. #37
    “For many years, this episode was a topic of conversation in Pont-l’Évêque. But Félicité, unaware that she had done anything heroic, took no pride in it.”
  8. #38
    “Félicité was as grateful as if her mistress had done her a good deed, and from this point on cherished her with an animal-like devotion, a religious veneration. ”
  9. #39
    “It was clear that they were exploiting her—much to the annoyance of Madame Aubain, who in any case did not like the fact that Félicité‘s nephew was so familiar towards her son.”
  10. #40
    ″‘Oh, your nephew!’ Shrugging her shoulders, Madame Aubain resumed her pacing, as if to say, ‘I’d forgotten all about him! And why should I care anyway? A ship’s boy, a rogue, so what? Whereas my daughter… Think of that!’ ”

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Book Topics › dreams
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Book Topics › belonging
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