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Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour (Penguin Classics) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. März 1996

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At once a classic of travel literature and a penetrating portrait of a 'sensibility on tour', Flaubert in Egypt wonderfully captures the young writer's impressions during his 1849 voyages. Using diaries, letters, travel notes, and the evidence of Flaubert's travelling companion, Maxime Du Camp, Francis Steegmuller reconstructs his journey through the bazaars and brothels of Cairo and down the Nile to the Red Sea.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a prominent physician. The success of Madame Bovary (1857) was ensured by government prosecution for "immorality"; Salammbô (1862) and The Sentimental Education (1869) received a cool public reception; not until the publication of Three Tales (1877) was his genius popularly acknowledged. His final bitterness and disillusion were vividly evidenced in the savagely satiric Bouvard and Pécuchet, left unfinished at his death in 1880.

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THE Gustave Flaubert who left France in the autumn of 1849 for a long tour of the 'Orient' (a term then often used to denote what we now call the Near and Middle East, and even North Africa) was a young man approaching twenty-eight, unknown outside his own circle, but who impressed friends and strangers alike by his size, his beauty, and his air of athletic vigor. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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23 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x983410c0) von 5 Sternen Orientalism 24. Juli 2003
Von Mary E. Sibley - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
In 1849 Gustave Flaubert was twenty eight. He had an air of athletic vigor. He was the son of a doctor. He had always written. At this point he had finished THE TEMPTATION OF SAINT ANTHONY. Friends suggested he use a story known to him, perhaps through his father, that became the basis for MADAME BOUVARY.
Maxime Du Camp accompanied Gustave to Egypt. France had maintained a controlling political interest in Egypt. Flaubert wrote that in Egypt everyone with clean clothes beats everyone with dirty clothes. Europeans were called Franks.
He wrote that the desert began at the gates of Alexandria. It is suggested that the very act of keeping a travel diary moved Flaubert from being a Romantic to becoming a Realist. There was a sunrise. They saw from the top of pyramids the valley of the Nile being bathed in mist.
The young men stared at the Sphinx. They visited the Coptic Church in Old Cairo. There were jugglers and acrobats and those very feared persons, snake charmers. Maxime Du Camp busied himself with photography throughout the trip. They saw dervishes. Flaubert described the water of the Nile. It was yellow and carried soil.
They took a trip down the Nile. They passed Luxor. The mountains were dark indigo. They arrived at Thebes. They saw towns whose buildings were made of dried mud. They saw and described dancing in their writings. They traveled to Assuan. Du Camp's photographic record of temples became famous. Flaubert reported to his mother that there always seemed to be a temple buried up to its shoulders in sand.
From Luxor to Karnak the great plain looked like an ocean. One's first impression of Karnak was that it was a place of giants. They went to the Red Sea at Koseir. Flaubert found the boats terrifying and was pleased that he did not have to use one. He thought that they carried the plague.
Flaubert's impressions of Egypt returned to him when he wrote SALAMMBO according to Du Camp. It seemed to Du Camp that Flaubert disdained the journey and looked at nothing. On the contrary, Egypt gave Flaubert his first comprehensive view of colors.
This is an elegant account of a writer's response to an alien culture. The book consists of journal entries and letters of Flaubert, writings of Du Camp, notes of the editor, and pictures. All in all it is a most interesting compilation.
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HASH(0x983414c8) von 5 Sternen "Traveling Makes One Modest" 4. Juli 2008
Von John L Murphy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Having enjoyed "Salammbo," which is a technicolor sandals and swords Panavision epic a century before its time, I wondered about Flaubert's earlier travels in the fall of 1849 in the desert realm. He probably behaved no differently than any other twenty-seven-year-old aesthete from Europe among the natives, and this remains less an indictment of "orientalism" in our P.C.-sensitive era than a pair of journals by him and his companion Maxime du Camp, with commentary by the Flaubert expert Francis Steegmuller. Parts ramble on without a lot of interest, and other sections captivate you, but like any diary and the expanded journal entries made later by Flaubert, the work as a whole is more a miscellaneous notebook of impressions and observations, much as one might expect of this formidably articulate tourist.

I think the relatively few sexual episodes get, if understandably for their candor, too much of the attention here compared to the bulk of this slender book, which is given over to the sights. There's amidst the itinerary and dutifully recorded letters to his mother many marvelous descriptions. Not all were addressed to his mother! You get the sense of the languid pace of a brothel, an early visitor's curious wanderings among the colossal statues of Luxor or Thebes, the sun rising over the graffitied Pyramids, his first sight of the Sphinx-- Steegmuller's notes remind us how magical this would have been before the ubiquitous photographs-- and the decaying splendors of Karnak.

Here's a sample of the prose about this last attraction. "The first impression of Karnak is of a land of giants. The stone grilles still existing in the windows give the scale of these formidable beings. As you walk among the forest of tall columns you ask yourself whether men weren't served up whole on skewers, like larks. In the first courtyard, after the two great pylons as you come from the Nile, there is a fallen column all of whose segments are in order, despite the crash, exactly as would a fallen pile of checkers. We return via the avenue of sphinxes: not one has his head-- all decapitated. White vultures with yellow bills are flying around a mound, around a carcass; to the right three have alighted and calmly watch us pass. An Arab trots swiftly on his dromedary." (169)

Out of such awesome silence, Flaubert also gained inspiration for "Madame Bovary," unlikely as it may seem. He also learned early about the fickleness of women, no matter where they might live, in his closing comments to Louise Colet about an "almeh," a lady of the night who often entertained him, Kuchuk: "You and I are thinking of her, but she is certainly not thinking of us. We are weaving an aesthetic around her, whereas this particular very interesting tourist who was vouchsafed the honours of her couch has vanished from her memory completely, like many others. Ah! Traveling makes one modest-- you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." (220)

These remarks remind us that Flaubert cannot be seen as a mere pawn of mid 19-c imperial strategems. He took advantage of his position, but he also realizes his complicity and the whole game that he by his privilege is able to indulge himself in as long as he pays the price. Another will always be found to accept his payment and render services accordingly, Those who denigrate Flaubert's typically frank account for its coolly documented exchanges might well contemplate how we today are enmeshed in a far greater contest, that began in such initial encounters, a century and a half before the vogue of globalization.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x98341540) von 5 Sternen Thoroughly orientalist, of course 18. Dezember 2007
Von Philippe Landry - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
"Let me begin by giving you a great hug, holding my breath as long as possible, so that as I exhale onto this paper your spirit will be next to me."

This is the book I read the most. I read it at random, sometimes rereading passages I read only days ago. It's not the exoticism that allures but the colonial/imperial mind at work comprehending and quantizing the East. Read Said's Orientalism to better understand the situation under which these journals and letters were written. Flaubert cuts through Egypt like a shark, almost in on his own joke. Initially he seems to take a typically orientalist posture scandalizing the sexuality of the savages. Upon further investigation one can see that his tone is ambivalent yet cooly giddy at the thought of westerners being perturbed at such behaviour. It's almost as if he knows that the West is the oddball out and everyone else is normal.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x983418d0) von 5 Sternen Best Travel Journal Book Ever 9. Oktober 2003
Von Vince R. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Kerouac isn't qualified to hold Flaubert's pen.
This is the real deal. From Christendom to the Orient Flaubert sails and records his thoughts, observations and indulengences in his usual excellent prose.
A must read.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x98341a08) von 5 Sternen One of the best "travel books" I have read 24. Februar 2010
Von R. M. Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
In 1849, at age 28, Gustave Flaubert (who had not yet distinguished himself in literature) embarked on a trip to the "Orient", as it was then called. His traveling companion was Maxime Du Camp. From November 1849 to July 1850 they were in Egypt. From there they went on to Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. This book is an account of the Egyptian portion of the trip.

FLAUBERT IN EGYPT actually is a composite, assembled from several sources: Flaubert's own travel notes, in their original version and as later re-written by Flaubert (but never published); letters Flaubert sent from Egypt to his beloved mother and to his good friend Louis Bouilhet; and the papers and several publications of Du Camp. Francis Steegmuller has done a brilliant job of selecting, inter-weaving, and translating these various extracts, and then interpolating them with helpful and non-intrusive notes and commentary, so that the result is a very coherent and eminently readable travelogue.

True to its title, the book reveals as much about Gustave Flaubert as it does about Egypt, and to me they are equally engrossing and fascinating. Egypt of 1850 was an extraordinary and exotic place, and Gustave Flaubert was an extraordinary sojourner, highly receptive to the exotica of Egypt. His writing, as translated and edited by Steegmuller, is more literary, readable, and entertaining than that of Sir Richard Francis Burton, who began his famous travels and accounts a few years later, in the 1850s.

FLAUBERT IN EGYPT abounds with the odd, the colorful, the curious, and the grotesque. One example: Flaubert and Du Camp spent five hours perched on a wall watching the ceremony of the Doseh, whereby a sheik (priest) rides his horse over the bodies of more than 200 men, lying on the ground and arranged and pressed together in a row like sardines. According to legend, in so doing the sheik cannot hurt any of the men; if they die, "it is due to their sins." Another: Sailing up the Nile, they passed a Coptic monastery, from which dozens of monks, totally naked, spilled into the river and swam towards their boat shouting "Baksheesh, baksheesh", while the crew of the boat tried to beat them off. Elsewhere, Flaubert writes that baksheesh and the cudgel "are the essence of the Arab." The essence, or symbol, of Egypt turns out to be bird[poop]. Actually, Flaubert, as translated, uses a more vulgar term: "Bird[poop] is Nature's protest in Egypt; she decorates monuments with it instead of with lichen or moss."

As the above suggests, the strait-laced and the politically-correct of today may find offense in some passages of FLAUBERT IN EGYPT. There is much that is vulgar, and a few of Flaubert's observations would quickly be condemned by some as racist. He also described, and participated in, rather exotic venery. Of one night with an "almeh" (dancer/whore), during which he counted "coup" five times, he wrote: "How flattering it would be to one's pride if at the moment of leaving you were sure that you left a memory behind, that she would think of you more than of the others who have been there, that you would remain in her heart!" Be that as it may, Flaubert himself left Egypt with a venereal problem for which he received mercury treatments for the rest of his life.

Steegmuller gently pushes the notion that the expedition and the travel notes Flaubert maintained during it marked an important transition in his writing and aesthetic perspective from romanticism to realism. Along those lines, one of the excerpts from Du Camp's writings tells about Flaubert, on the summit of Gebel Abusir overlooking the Second Cataract of the Nile, suddenly crying out, "I have found it! Eureka! Eureka! I will call her Emma Bovary!"
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