Born: 12 December 1821
Died: 8 May 1880
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Best known as: The author of Madame Bovary
French writer Gustave Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary is considered one of the earliest and best examples of what the literary world calls modernist realism. Flaubert was studying law in Paris when he befriended Victor Hugo and the poet Louise Colet, who encouraged him to pursue his literary ambitions. He moved to his mother's house in Croisset in 1843, and spent the rest of his life in near-isolation, working hard to perfect the art of writing. Madame Bovary is the tale of an adulterous wife and a condemnation of bourgeois society. It was serialized in 1856 and was declared obscene and immoral by the authorities. Flaubert was unsuccessfully prosecuted and the novel, published in 1857, became a bestseller. Called "the novelist's novelist" by Henry James, Flaubert was famous for his work ethic and his focus on narrative form and structure and Madame Bovary is considered one of the greatest European novels of the 19th century. His other books include Salammbo (English translation 1886), Sentimental Education (English translation 1896) and The Temptation of St. Anthony (English translation 1895).
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