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Commemorating TraumaThe Paris Commune and Its Cultural Aftermath$
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Peter Starr

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226030

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823226030.001.0001

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Science and Confusion: Flaubert's Temptation

Science and Confusion: Flaubert's Temptation

(p.86) 4 Science and Confusion: Flaubert's Temptation
Commemorating Trauma

Peter Starr

Fordham University Press

The first part of this chapter explores Flaubert's debt to natural history and his reinscription of contemporary vitalist biology. The second part examines the specifically melancholy cast of the Temptation's vitalism by inscribing it in the context of Flaubert's contemporaneous rants against the invading Prussians, the Paris Commune, and the early Third Republic. The chapter then concludes by revisiting Jean-Paul Sartre's account of Flaubert's crisis of 1870, and specifically Sartre's claim that the fall of the Second Empire occasioned Flaubert's “historical death.” Flaubert speaks often in his letters of a desire to make criticism, literary style, and even politics “scientific.” Flaubertian science is neither technocratic nor positivistic.

Keywords:   Flaubert, Temptation, Jean-Paul Sartre, Prussians, Paris Commune, Third Republic, Flaubertian science

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