What would happen if a character, even if only roughly sketched in the mind of a writer, decided to take on a life independent of his creator in order to take revenge against all the other characters that this author had created in his other books?
This is what happens to the legendary writer Gustave Flaubert, when his character Harel-Bey comes to life with a grudge to bear. Even the imaginary characters of books that Monsieur Flaubert has never actually written, but had long pondered and discussed with his most intimate friends, begin to stir with their own motivations.
Quite unexpectedly, Harel-Bey begins a long and difficult journey through the writings of Monsieur Flaubert to try to understand the reasons that induced the writer to write so many books and stories, but never the one that would have had him as leading protagonist. As a vengeful killer, Harel-Bey is determined to murder all of the protagonists of the books and stories Flaubert has written.
In the company of a certain Monsieur Bouvard, himself the star of another book which Flaubert had started but never finished, Harel-Bey seeks his revenge. There’s will be a mission rich in disturbing discoveries, revealing the reasons and the irrationalities of fictionalised reality and unreal fiction.
About The Work of Gustave Flaubert:
It was almost a duty to write about Gustave Flaubert.
Flaubert is a unique writer, sublime in his stylistic perfection. A very good reason to be intrigued, so that it’s all the more interesting to explore him, his work as a writer, his life.
An arduous journey but a rewarding one, because Flaubert remains inimitable and he reciprocates every effort to know him with fascinating and unexpected discoveries that prompt investigations and explorations. Flaubert created a myriad of unforgettable characters whom he then released so that they could live their own lives in the minds of his readers.
Therefore, I thought that it would be very stimulating to write a story which would also involve the characters in Flaubert’s books, to allow them to experience a fascinating and different adventure.
Almost an irregular book that would, in some way, go beyond the classic and stereotyped schemes of narrative tradition to explore distinctive notes from a different, perhaps even dark and suggestive, perspective, and above all with the urgent and emotional participation of one sitting down to write, nurturing a particular admiration for Flaubert.
A true interest and a particular interest are the primary reasons for my journey into Flaubert’s world. Almost an intimate and specular journey characterized by two primary elements: his life and the characters in his books. These two ingredients, never so specifically explored in other writings on Flaubert, were, in my opinion, fundamental in Flaubert’s literary life and thus they became the pillars on which to construct a sequence of events, a narrative, a literary game.
Then there are the obsessions. Obsessions that were almost a paradigm necessary to better understand Flaubert the man and the writer. Obsessions that were subtle and tragic spells that consumed him slowly and inexorably. Especially the obsessions with writing, the obsessions with creativity, the obsession with an imposed solitude when he took to living in his Croisset retreat along the banks of the Seine among roses and honeysuckles, the obsession with satisfying and unsatisfying loves: for his mother and for his mistress Louise Colet.
A life that appeared to be a frantic and relentless race toward already reached and unreachable goals previously proposed as destinations to be conquered, hence a painful race without him ever having set aside that manifest rationality of principle that always governed his life.
Flaubert also represented, and represents, a particular moment in regard to any type of traditions, customs and consolidated habits in nineteenth-century writing. Flaubert’s was an artistic break implemented and practised by means of an operational complexity that involved him as a man able to put himself on the line against an excessively conformist society.
When we consider his choice as a writer able to overcome past customs of writing and of psychological investigations of the characters he created, what immediately stands out is his specificity in the care taken in the writing he proposed as an absolute communicative sign, as a unique occasion to present images that seem alive and an integral part of the narrative discourse.
Thus Flaubert recounts the plots and the characters through the use of expressive notes which provide, with a magical commitment and iron will, a persuasive and enchanted tale, an incomparable sign of writing.
For Flaubert, writing becomes a mission, almost a rite. A votive ritual for which there is significant value in narrating stories that must respect a rite which is no longer the bourgeois rite but an investigation capable of demonstrating new sensations whilst experimenting with new languages.
In the definition of his narrative style, reality assumes a value that is almost a moving immortality rich in compelling drama, because quite often life is not always full of mellow merriments, of affable sweetness, of pleasant realities.
Indeed the writing is used to express feelings and to evoke and arouse strong emotions, exactly in the contrasts when characters are placed side by side. The style is characterized principally by assiduously sought words, able to create three-dimensional effects in a choral ensemble that is a unique representation of writing hitherto never employed or conceived.
Therefore, Flaubert’s writings are imbued with vitality in a form that seems to caress expressionist tones. A continuous theme that leads to precise, intimate, persuasive writing. On closer look, it is nothing but writing with dimensions limited to places and people: people become necessary to survive, thus to participate in the story, in life, in becoming.
It was necessary then to define the places, the circumstances, the people. Places as identities of a life, circumstances as a mirror of psychological conditions, people as occasions to decipher sentiments.
Flaubert was, therefore, a unique, decidedly innovative writer, a precise calibrator of feelings and events.
About the Author:
Giuseppe Cafiero is a prolific writer of plays and fiction who has produced numerous programs for the Italian-Swiss Radio, Radio Della Svizzera Italiana, and Slovenia’s Radio Capodistria. The author of ten published works focusing on cultural giants from Vincent Van Gogh to Edgar Allan Poe, Cafiero lives in Italy, in the Tuscan countryside.
It was an honour to have Giuseppe Cafiero guest post today!
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