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Title: Flaubert's aesthetic values : an assessment of a formal perspective upon language and representation
Author: Knight, Diana
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1977
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This thesis is conceived as a general study of Flaubert's major works and as an assessment of recent critical approaches to them. Chapter 1 is an extensive evaluation of Sartre's L'Idiot de la famille, for which I claim the right to serious attention, before summarising its method and its argument that Flaubert's negative relationship to language becomes a positive one to style. This is set against Flaubert's own exposition, in both letters and works, of the problems of language and expression in the personal and artistic contexts. I show finally how other critics, in a very different perspective, have arrived at remarkably similar conclusions about Flaubert's concern for language as an opaque, material entity. Chapter 2 argues that Flaubert's aesthetic aims are equally served by the building of an illusion, i.e. that he does not undermine the idea of the novel as representation. The journey to the East is indicated as the turning point in the emergence of an aesthetic ideal combining stupidity, reverie and the aesthetic attitude to the world and to language. An examination of the formal organization of Flaubert's representations centres on the relationship between discourse and récit, with reassessment of such problems as impersonality, irony and point of view. A discussion of repetition leads to a consideration of the modernity of auto-representation. Within this formal perspective the last chapter argues against the common modern belief in Flaubert’s deconstruction of all stable meaning, reinstating the organizing function of character as a centre of value. Inarticulate and stupid characters, the traditional focus of Anglo-Saxon attacks on Flaubert’s lack of moral complexity, are shown to have privileged status in relation to vital aspects of Flaubert's aesthetic as established jn the first two chapters. A correct “moral” reading of the story will therefore have nothing do with an attitude to real life, but will depend upon awareness of the work's formal intentions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PQ Romance literatures