For me, the proof of Flaubert's genius lies elsewhere. I find this novel rather academic. It makes me think of The History of Henry Edmunds, which I've not actually read. And who does read it, apart from academics? Even among people like us, few read it. As much as I like Vanity Fair and think Thackeray surely must have written another enjoyable novel, descriptions of what Thackeray was about in Henry Edmunds make it sound rather absurd, of only academic interest. Reading Salaambo and knowing it was published after Mdm Bovary, my overriding thought is: christ, how the mighty have fallen.
I will probably read it again someday and I hope to enjoy it more then. I will come to it with different expectations. I was not aware of any particular expectations, but I suppose there are some basic ones that I come to every book with unless I'm prepared for something else.
Still, I feel that had Flaubert not written Mdm Bovary or Sentimental Education, nobody would be reading Salaambo now.
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