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?