Thursday 13 April 2017

Extracts: Gustave Flaubert by Giuseppe Cafiero

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A quick note from the author:

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. An intimate and specular journey characterised by two primary elements: his life and the characters in his books.


1. The Muse, Louise Colet, has never been a tranquil woman, respectful of the feelings and lives of others. She is invasive, possessive, indiscreet to the point of tedium. She has consumed, with her blond grace and languishing simpering, an entire generation of intellectuals, she has engulfed some of the most brilliant minds of our epoch. Still not content, and now mature in age, she has taken to investigating and inquiring into the past to provoke new troubles, to be tediously importunate, to make herself definitively hated.

Our Muse, mon cher Max, has never known or wanted to accept the shadow of anonymity, to which she seemed inevitably condemned, in which it was permissible and legitimate to foresee that she would have finished up after having stirred up so much dust, after having long played the role of the beautiful statuette. Worse as a writer, worse as a woman. She tried to become a George Sand and has ended up a caryatid who has put into print poisonous little books and verses.

2. The almée, the courtesan of Esneh, the petite princesse, Koutchouk-Hanem, marked me deeply. I remember every moment of our night of love. I remember the sky filled with stars, the tremulous lights of the oil lamps, the scent of resin, her majestic body, her look, her lips, her warm and welcoming sex, the silence of love-making. In twenty years the recollections and the sensations I experienced have never weakened, vanished or changed. I relive even today the sensual rapture of her flexible movements, of the warm colours of her clothes. Why should one renounce one’s own joy?

Cher ami, cher Max Du Camp, I don’t know if the years have marked us. The detritus of memory appears today as signs of small indecipherable scars. Confidences like secrets, rarefied curiosities of time. The events of long ago seem now like stains, violated by successions of days, hours, minutes. What happened and what is happening. It is inevitable. The Muse is part of the detritus of time, of the dystonias of an open weave frayed by the precariousness of feelings.

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3. Gustave was fundamentally a fabricator of books with the rhythm of one word every hour, as Edmond de Goncourt goes around saying. Gustave’s desire to make me a real character was based instead on very ambiguous considerations.

Everything began for me on 29 March 1862 when Monsieur Gustave Flaubert began to manifest his dreams, his plans for a novel. He had a great desire, which he was unable to renounce, to write a book on the Orient … a book he had just sketched out, a book he would have entitled Harel Bey. This then is how I was imagined and, in truth, created from a diligent and scrupulous reflection by a writer usually seduced by eccentric fables, even though they were always original.

Here I am then, forged in a manner similar to how you Christians will mould a man, making use of a prodigious but tried and true formula. This in synthesis is my creation. Now, and diligently, let us go over once again our meeting, our finding each other, albeit for very fortuitous reasons, as characters imagined by that writer called Gustave Flaubert.

About Giuseppe Cafiero

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.

You can find more information about Giuseppe and his work on Facebook. Gustave Flaubert is available to buy now.

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