Andrea (raginreader) wrote in properdrama,

What's it like to be a kickbutt artist?

My DH, Dave, works at a library, so I can send him forth to get me all kinds of cool books, which he did for me concerning MB. The copy he got for me has letters from Flaubert to Louise Colet. (Apparently, LC was his lover, although they didn't get it on very much. But that's a whole different discussion.)

Anyway, at one point Flaubert writes, "What is making me go so slowly [when writing MB] is that nothing in this book is derived from myself; never has my personality been of less use to me. Later I may be able to produce things that are better (I certainly hope so); it is difficult for me to imagine that I will ever write anything more carefully calculated."

Ooooookay, so, here's what I have to say about that:

a. Huuummmm . . . What's it like to able to write something that doesn't really spring from your experience?
b. And, what's it like to be writing a kickbutt book, but not really know it?

But here's the clencher!!

Later, in the reviews section of the book that Dave got me, there's a review by Charles Augustin Saint-Beuve, who apparently was a big deal book critic back then. He writes: "The novelist entirely refrains from taking sides; he is present only in order to watch, to reveal and to say everything, but not even his profile appears in a single corner of the novel. The work is entirely impersonal. This, in itself, demonstrates remarkable strengh."

Ummm . . . wow! What is it like to try to attempt something artistic, and then have a critic totally recognize what you've done as fullfilling your goal?

Okay, so I mentioned this to another friend, and he was totally unimpressed. What do y'all think? Is it a big deal that Flaubert managed to write a book that came totally from outside himself? Can you think of other authors who've done it well?
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