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Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011 Flaubert's Parrot deals with Flaubert parrots bears and railways with our sense of the past and our sense of abroad with France and England life and art sex and death George Sand and Louise Colet aesthetics and redcurrant jam and with its enigmatic narrator a retired English doctor whose life and secrets are slowly revealedA compelling weave of fiction and imaginatively ordered fact Flaubert's Parrot is by turns moving and entertaining witty and scholarly and a tour de force of seductive originality


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    This book is the biography of Gustave Flaubert written by the Francophile Julian BarnesOr may be not may be this is a pointless story of a widower and retired doctor Geoffrey Braithwaite who is as fascinated with Flaubert as is his creatorOr if we are to get intellectual is this a satirical meditation on writing on reading on the possibilities of gaining a deeper insight into the literary output of an author by studying his life or even on the irremediably fictional nature of being able to access another person at all?Or is it the story of the whereabouts of Loulou Flaubert’s stuffed parrot that sat at his desk while he wrote Un Coeur simple?So how could I parrot Julian Barnes and write a review about my understanding of Flaubert’s Parrot? May be the parrots themselves would open up the key to my reviewFACTUAL MIROThis stuffed parrot is surprisingly a Joan Miró work of art or part of one It belongs to the MoMa and is a gift of Mr amd Mrs Pierre Matisse It is labeled as Stuffed Parrot on Wooden Perch 1936 Miro’s bird is part of an artistic concoction in which in addition to the stuffed bird he has also included a perch a stuffed silk stocking with its garter etc But I am not interested in this artifice I wanted to select only that which pertains to the bird I am sticking to the factsJulian Barnes was born in 1946 and he wrote this book and it was published by Jonathan Cape in 1984 It was listed for the Booker Prize The first edition had 190 pages Sales Rank in couk is 29392 as of August 12th 2013BEAUTY The Flying WonderAnd it should not surprise us that there is also beauty in this book Barnes’s writing in this work is not particularly florid but elegant it is I think he would agree though that the most beautiful passage in his book is his quote of Flaubert The following passage shares the abstract beauty of my Flying Parrot as well as its mysterious exotic quality Ahead of them lay the Nile bathed in mist like a white sea behind them lay the dark desert like a petrified purple ocean At last a streak of orange light appeared to the east and gradually the white sea in front of them became an immense expanse of fertile green while the purple ocean behind them turned shimmering white ARCHETYPAL PERFECTBarnes questions whether there is a perfect reader May be there isn’t but I hope there is an archetypal Parrot Does this one correspond to your idea of Parrot? Or may be you prefer other colours depending on what you have seen or imagined? For example it could have a green body with a blue head and with a bit of pink at the end of its wings and its neck could also have a touch of gold If so this parrot would be if not perfect at least the one that Flaubert described son corps était vert le bout de ses ailes rose son front bleu et sa gorge doréeIf it is difficult to find a perfect reader or a perfect critic what about a perfect Review for GR? Can it be attempted or should I stick with just this Perfect Parrot and continue looking for the Perfect Review?FUNNY TOYThis being a book written by Barnes it is peppered with his unmistakable clever witticism But as humour can only be triggered from its own context examples or quotes will not do I would have to append a silly and ineffectual “and this made me laugh” to elicit the desired effect But I’ll have to admit that I did laugh out loud several timesTRIPARTITE – ChronologyMay be because he wants to cater for all tastes Barnes or is it Braithwaite presents three different chronologies of Flaubert’s life Of course I have my favourite Out of the two formulaic ones the pessimistic and the optimistic and the one constructed with quotes from Flaubert’s diaries and letters I pick the latter And should I choose the blue parrot?MODERNIST – MultiplicityThe three chronologies indicate that Barnes is aware of multiplicity of viewpoints This issue he addresses multiple times as well both directly and indirectly What is Biography writing? Multiple parrots or multiple personas? The core of Modernism But I prefer not to post a photo of a Disembodied Parrot Not all Modernism is interestingSELF REPRESENTATIONUnavoidably even documents with direct utterances such as letters and diaries are suspect Can we trust perception and what about projections?APOCRYPHAL – In ShadowsBarnes explores even what it not there in Flaubert’s life or rather what never became his literary output He could have written many works but given his highly engaged way of labouring over his novels and the huge amount of research he undertook for each these ghosts of ideas had to remain just as shadows of never to be booksWHY the PARROT?What I think Barnes does not address is why Flaubert had a stuffed parrot on his desk? May be it was a culture thing a nineteenth century French obsession with the eroticism of this very smart birdCourbet and Delacroix had a similar interest in Parrots These paintings may give as an idea in which way they thought of themCourbet'sAnd Delacroix'sIn the end though with all my parroting I do not think I have given you a real bird nor have you learnt much about parrots This whole effort will remain futile as happens with a great deal of writing unless you want to give meaning to it