Usually, description is the boring part that I have to force myself not to skim over in Victorian novels, but in Salammb˘, it is the main course. Flaubert had already shown himself to be a master of characterization in Madame Bovary, but he chose to almost completely eschew character development in Salammb˘. As for plot, most of it is actual history, drawn from Polybius. No, this is a novel about description--things gorgeous and exotic, things weird and otherworldly, and, of course, things overwhelmingly savage and gruesome. It cries out to be read slowly (and probably in short sittings), the better to visualize all the overwhelming description that flows from his pen. I did finally get caught up in the action toward the latter part of the book, but for most of the trip, it was languid and decadent. I've never read anything quite like it.
: I finished it. The only passage that ever
: roused the slightest interest was Matho
: dying before Salaambo.
: I think this is a book one has to be
: prepared for. I will probably enjoy it more
: if I ever reread it. As you remarked, it is
: long on description, exoticism and lushness.
: It begs a lot of visualization. I did,
: occasionally, try to make more of an effort,
: but I could never sustain it for long.
: Perhaps it's the sort of book I need to read
: in short sittings, but these days I have
: less time for secondary reading.
: You got caught up in the ending. I think I
: had more or less checked out by the time I
: got to the last third. I just wanted to
: finish and read something else.
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