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Gustave Flaubert (Rouen, Upper Normandy, 12 December 1821-Croisset, Lower Normandy, 8 May 1880) was a French writer. He is considered one of the best Western novelists and is best known for his novel Madame Bovary, and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style, whose best example was his endless search for le mot juste (the exact word).
Gustave Flaubert was the second son of Achille Cléophas (1784-1846) and Anne Justine, nee Fleuriot (1793-1872). His father, chief surgeon of the Hospital de Rouen, served as a model for the character of Dr. Larivière in Madame Bovary. His mother was related to some of the oldest families in Normandy.
On May 15, 1832 he entered the Royal College of Rouen, where he attended eighth grade. He continued his studies at the school and the Rouen institute without much enthusiasm. At school he was considered irresponsible. However, it started in the literature at the age of eleven. During the summer of 1836 he met Élisa Schlésinger in Trouville. This encounter marked him enough, something that later reflected in his novel La educación sentimental.
Licensed in 1839, in August 1840 he passed the baccalauréat (baccalaureate) exam. In the raffle for military service he was exempt, and then began without much conviction the law studies in Paris. In his youth Flaubert was full of vigor and, in spite of his shyness, he possessed a certain grace, was very enthusiastic and individualistic and apparently had no ambition. He met Víctor Hugo and, at the end of 1840, he traveled with him through the Pyrenees and Corsica. Back in Paris, he wasted time daydreaming, living off the rents his wealth gave him. In June 1844, Flaubert, who loved the countryside and detested the city, left law school under the pretext of recovering from an epileptic fit, which he always tried to hide, and left Paris to return to Croisset, near Rouen, where he lived with his mother and later with his niece. This property, a house on a pleasant plot on the banks of the Seine, was the home of Flaubert until the end of his days. This is also where he began his first literary works, for example the first version of Sentimental Education.
In 1846 his father and sister died two months after they fell ill. Flaubert took care of his niece. He began a stormy relationship with the poet Louise Colet that lasted ten years and which was a very important correspondence. The letters he addressed to her were preserved and, according to Emile Faguet, this relationship was the only sentimental episode of importance in the life of Flaubert, who never married.
In Paris he attended the 1848 Revolution, which he observes with a very critical look (as in Sentimental Education). During the Second French Empire he frequented the most influential Parisian salons and, among others, interacted with George Sand.
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