Flaubert on the shape of the novel

Book Coolie presents some of Gustave Flaubert’s musings on structural unity:

My God, this novel makes me break out in a cold sweat! Do you know how much I’ve written in five months, since the end of August? Sixty-five pages! Each paragraph is good in itself and there are some pages that are perfect. I feel certain. But just because of this, it isn’t getting on. It’s a series of well-turned, ordered paragraphs which do not flow on from each other. I shall have to unscrew them, loosen the joints, as one does with the masts of a ship when one wants the sail to take more wind…

Letter to Louise Colet (29-30 January 1853)

(Image taken from “Madame Bovary par Gustave Flaubert.”)


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