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Pere Goriot Essays On Leadership



The 19th-Century European Novel

Prof. Janet Moser                                                              4323B
Office hours: Wed., 3-4 and by appt.                                Spring 2018

Course Objectives:
1. Students will read a selection of 19th-century European novels by authors from different European countries.
2. Students will analyze common themes and allusions in these novels, and relate them to historical, cultural and social currents of the time.
3. Students will do close analyses of texts, discussing theme, imagery, rhetorical devices and stylistic techniques.
4. Students will write one 3-4 page paper, post analyses and responses to their classmates' posts 3 times during the semester (each post containing an anlyses and two responses), and write a final research paper (5-7 pages) with appropriate MLA documentation and format.

Required Texts: (available at the college bookstore or online) You MUST use the edition and translation listed below. You MAY NOT read these texts on your phone.
Balzac, Honoré de. Père Goriot. Trans. Burton Raffel. Norton Critical Edition.
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Trans. Richard Howard. Norton Critical Edition.
Turgenev, Ivan. Fathers and Sons. Trans. Richard Freeborn. Oxford
Dostoevsky. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Coulson. Norton Critical Edition.

Course requirements:
1. Students are expected to have read all the material due at each class meeting.
2. There will be frequent quizzes, 2 reader response papers or close analyses due any time during the semester.
3. There will be one 3-4 page paper (worth 10%, due on a rotating group schedule), 4 online postings (250-word response to a topic and two 150-word responses to your classmates' postings, worth a total of 20%); and a 5-7 page final research paper (20%).
4. No late papers will be accepted.
5. There wil be a midterm (15%).
6. Students are allowed three absences. Two latenesses = one absence.
7. Students who are absent from class are responsible for getting the assignment from a classmate before the next class. Homework assignments will also be listed on the web site. Do not e-mail me for the homework.
8. Failure to complete all assignments on time and/or excessive absence will result in a lowered grade for the course.
9. Students who plagiarize may receive an F for the course.
10. Possible grades range from A+ to F. The lowest passing grade is D-

Grades will be computed as follows:

20% participation, quizzes, discussion leader
10 % 1st 3-page paper
20%  online postings (4 postings worth 5 points each)
15 % midterm
25% final paper, annotated bibliography (5%), final presentation (5%)

Paper 1
Group 1:  Ajodhia, Bantis, Burden, Casto, Gonzalez, Hasan, Martinez, Schwartz, Smith  -----Due in class on Feb 21
Group 2:  Armstrong, Bortkevich, But, Gomez, Gramyko, Litchfield, Molina, Shaban----Due in class on March 7
Group 3:  Ayaz, Brown, Caminiti, Gondal, Griffith, Mack, Montalti, Shahova----Due in class Mar. 12
Posting dates:
1. March 7-12
2. March 19-23
3. March 28-April 9
4. April 11-16
5. April 23-27

Look particularly at the portraits by Ingres. These are a good sources for information on fashion in the first half of the 19th century. In his essay 'The Painter of Modern Life', Baudelaire remarks how portraits "are clothed in the costume of their own period. They are perfectly harmonious because everything - from costume and coiffure down to gesture, glance and smile (for each age has a deportment, a glance and a smile of its own) - everything, I say, combines to form a completely viable whole."

Madame Jacques--Louis Leblanc (1788-1839), 1823
Jacques-Louis Leblanc (1774–1846), 1823
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867)
(from the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Click the link below for a portrait of Louis-François Bertin (1766–1841), a powerful newspaperman, owner of the Journal des débats, and at the time Ingres portrayed him, a key supporter of King Louis-Philippe's constitutional monarchy. When this portrait was exhibited at the Salon of 1833, crowds marveled at its naturalism, though many critics found fault with the restrained palette. The painting, Ingres's first popular success as a portraitist, has come to symbolize the rise of the unapologetically self-satisfied bourgeoisie.


"The 19th century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac's." (Oscar Wilde)

""Where another writer makes an allusion, Balzac gives you a Dutch picture." (Henry James)

Link to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's page on realism:

and 19th-century fashion:

and 19th-century entertainment (from Brown University site)

Brief summary of 19th-century French history:
French Revolution (1789–1792)
French First Republic (1792–1804)
First French Empire under Napoleon I (1804–1814/1815)
Bourbon Restoration under Louis XVIII and Charles X (1814/1815–1830)
July Monarchy under Louis Philippe d'Orléans (1830–1848)
Second Republic (1848–1852)
Second Empire under Napoleon III (1852–1870)
Long Depression (1873-1890)
Belle Époque (1890-1914)

Honore de Balzac, Le Pere Goriot

For Wed, Jan. 31
Read p. 5-26, if you have the book; otherwise, read and annotate closely p. 5-11, distributed in class.

Paris before the boulevards: (photos by Charles Marville)


Rue Chartière (impasse Chartière) de la rue de Reims,
Rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève.
Rue Arras

1865-69. Art Institute of Chicago

Paris after Haussmann: See and for information about Haussmann

See for description of Caillebotte's Paris Rainy Day below

Monet, Boulevard des capucines, Nelson-Atkins Museum



For Monday, Feb. 5:
Read Pere Goriot, through p. 72. Read the essay by Henry James, "The Lesson of Balzac," p. 245-258.
Discussion leader: Amanda

Wednesday, Feb 7: Pere Goriot, 73-126
Read Peter Brooks' essay, "Representation and Signification," p. 314-328.
Think about all the father-son relationships in the novel.
Be prepared to discuss any one of the following topics: how things define people; Eugene's rise in society; paternity; history as seen in the novel; city vs. country; zoological comparisons; or any topic that might interest you---something you particularly liked or something you had trouble understanding
Discussion leader:.

Monday, Feb. 12: Lincoln's birthday; no classes

For Wed., Feb. 14:
Pere Goriot. p. 127-171
Discussion Leader: Salvatore

Monday, Feb. 19: Washington's birthday; no classes

Tuesday, Feb. 20: Conversion day---we meet.  Finish Pere Goriot; 173-217

Wednesday, Feb. 21:
Read one of the 3 following critical essays and be prepared to discuss, in groups, one of the following topics:. Group 1---read Auerbach; Group 2---read Barberis; Group 3---read Mozet
1. Auerbach, p.279-289. Explain p. 284: "to him [Balzac] every milieu becomes a moral and physical atmosphere which impregnates the landscape, the dwelling, furniture, implements, clothing......its several milieux." or
2. Barberis, p. 304-314. Explain how, according to Barberis, Vautrin justifies taking Taillefer's life. or
3. Mozet, p. 338-353. Summarize
Discussion leader:

Wed., Feb 21: Paper 1, Group 1: Choose ONE of the following topics. All written work should be typed, 12 pt font, double-spaced, standard margins. To be submitted in class.
1. Look at the dinner scenes. How do they affect the narrative? What purpose do they serve both structurally and thematically?
2. Look at the painting by DeHooch (LINK). In what ways can it be said that Balzac's work resembles a Dutch painting?
3. Look at the closing scene. How does it compare to the description of the boarding house and its surroundings in the opening scene?

For Monday, Feb 26:
Read Madame Bovary, Part I, p. 5-57; also, read Flaubert's letters to his lover, p. 300-310.
Be sure to look for examples of irony, horse and cow imagery.
Discussion leader: Francesca

Princesse de Broglie, 1851.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867)
(from the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Wednesday, Feb 28:

Part 2 of Madame Bovary (through p. 183)
Reread the scene at the ball.
Pay careful attention to the following images throughout the novel: water (and anything liquid); windows; landscapes (particularly liquid allusions); circular motions; notice the tense, and how it affects the mood; look for contrasts (like the cow/horse allusions), especially in the scene of the agricultural fair.
Find examples of free indirect discourse in Part 1 chapter 7
Discussion leader: (2/26)
Discussion leader: (2/28)

Paper 1, Group 2: Due Wednesday, March 7 : close analysis of the scene at the agricultural fair; any one of the following motifs: water; horses; windows; gazes

Look at the painting "The Horse Fair" by Rosa Bonheur:

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gustave Courbet's Burial at Ornans:[showUid]=2395

Courbet: : http//

Jean-Francois Millet (from the Louvre website):

For Monday, March 5:
Read through the end of Part 2
Be prepared to discuss the following quote:
"The human tongue is like a cracked cauldron on which we beat out tunes to set a bear dancing when we would make the stars weep with our melodies." (154)
Also, look carefully at the description of the ride Emma and Leon take in the cab in Rouen (193-94)
Discussion leader: Sara

For Wednesday, March 7:
Part 3, Madame Bovary.
Discussion leader: Ana

Monday, March 12:
Final discussion of Madame Bovary . Find a passage, a sentence, an image, an idea you want to discuss in class.
Look for recurring motifs: circular images; water (in many forms); masculinity; blindness.
Be prepared to discuss the following characters: Binet, Homais, Lheureux, Guillaumin, Bournisien, LaRiviere, Leon, Rodolphe, Mme Homais.
Are there any sympathetic characters in this novel?
Discussion leader:

Paper 1, Group 3: Due in class on Monday, March 12
1. How does the spread of literacy in the first half of the 19th century affect the plot in Madame Bovary? What other signs of 19th-century changes do you see reflected in the novel?
2. Think about the theme of adultery. How is adultery in the 19th-century French novel different from previous treatments of this topic? Look at the excerpts (handed out in class) on adultery from the Jewish and Christian Bibles.
3. Is Emma a tragic hero? Why or why not?
4. Compare Madame Bovary to the other French realist novel we read, Pere Goriot. What similarities do you find? what differences?

Look at Rembrandt's Woman Taken in Adultery: and
Blake's The Woman Taken in Adultery (John VIII, 8–9) 1805


Posting 1: Choose ONE of the following topics and post a 250-word response.  Then, in two postings of at least 150 words each, respond to two of your classmates' postings (5 points: 3 pts for the original posting, 1 pt each for each response). Posting open March 7-March 12

1. How does the resolution of the novel convey Flaubert's pessimism? (look at the fate of Berthe; changes in Charles after Emma's death; Homais' official recognition). How do these occurences reflect the social climate of Flaubert's time?

2. Window imagery in Madame Bovary.

2. Iin her affair with Rodolphe, Emma is controlled by him; he dominates her to the extent that "he made her into something compliant, something corrupt." Leon is controlled by Emma; she is the dominant, conventionally more masculine figure.

3. Discuss the notion of boredom and its central role in Madame Bovary.


Wednesday, March 14: Read one of the following critical essays:
"Censoring the Realist Gaze," 512-524
"The Uses of Uncertainty," 479-92
"Restricted Thematics," 499-519
"From Trial to Text," 470-79
If another critical essay interests you, check with me for approval.
Review for midterm
Discussion leader:

For Monday, March 19: Midterm
Pere Goriot, Madame Bovary. You are responsible for the texts and for the history, art, fashion and music we discussed in relation to the texts.
Three parts:
I. Identifications (quick, simple, 2 points each- choose 10) total: 20 points.
II. Quotes: identify the source, speaker, setting, significance (8 points each, choose 6) total: 48 points
III. Short essays (8 points each, choose 4) total: 32 points.

For Wednesday, March 21:
Read Part I, p. 1-74, Crime and Punishment, Norton Critical Edition

As you read, look for parallels with Pere Goriot. Dostoevsky read Balzac, and even translated one of his novels into Russian.
Discussion leader:

Russian names and their English meanings:
Raskolnikov, Luzhin, Svidrigaïlov, Zametov, Marmeladov and Razhumikin have some symbolic meanings in their last names. For every Russian reader it is the obvious fact; however, in translation the meaning of names becomes lost.
Raskol’nik – schismatic
Luzha – puddle
Razum – reason, intelligence
Zametit’ – to notice
Marmelad – sort of sweet candy
Svidrigaïlov – name from medieval Russian history, Lithuanian prince

Map of Raskolnikov's journey to the pawnbroker's:

Biographical information (from Middlebury College website):

Inscription on Dostoevsky's tomb:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.(from John [12:24]

Study Guide and Summary of Crime and Punishment from Middlebury College:

For Monday, March 26:
Read Part II of Crime and Punishment
Posting 2: March 19-March 23
1. Analyze Raskolnikov's dream in Chapter 5. Look at symbolism, antitheses, foreshadowing.
2. Analyze Dostoevsky's description of St. Petersburg. Be sure to use specfic quotes to support your assertions.
Discussion leader:

For Wednesday, March 28::
Read Part III of Crime and Punishment
Pay careful attention to the discussion about Raskolnikov's article. What is he proposing? When did it appear? How does he learn of its publication?
Discussion leaosder:

For Wednesday, March 28
Read Part IV of Crime and Punishment
Read "Traditional Symbolism," p. 526-543.

Discussion leader:  


For Monday, April 9- Wednesday April 11:
Part V of Crime and Punishment
Discussion leader:
Posting 3: March 28-April 9
Choose one symbol mentioned in the article "Traditional Symbolism" and find and analyze an example of its use in Crime and Punishment.
For example, you might choose "air" and discuss Dostoevsky's description of the air in St. Petersburg, or the air in Raskolnikov's room, or at the police station.
2. How does St. Petersburg function as a character in the novel?
3. How is the urban setting of St. Petersburg different from its contemporary Paris in Pere Goriot?


For Monday, April 16::
Part VI of Crime and Punishment.
Think about how Crime and Punishment fits, or adds to, the descriptions of realism in the novels that we've read so far this semester
Posting 4:  April 11-April 16
1. Look for parallels between the description of Svidrigaylov's final hours and Raskolnikov's hours before he commits murder.
2. Analyze Svridigaylov's dream
3. Analyze the parallels between the murder scene and Raskolnikov's confession scene in Sonia's room.

For Wednesday, April 18: Fathers and Sons

Discussion leader:

Read Part 1 (through p. 56) of Turgenev'sFathers and Sons
I. Structure: Three estates and three transitions
Carriage ride
1. Mar´ino (Kirsanov brothers, Fenechka): a medium-sized estate (200 serfs)
Town of *** (Sitnikov, Kukshina)
2. Nikol´skoe (Anna and Katia Odintsova): a large estate
Carriage ride
3. "Small manor house" (Bazarov's parents): a poor estate (15-25 serfs)
Several journeys by the main characters back and forth among these estates

II. Names
" Arkadii: <Arcas, son of Zeus and King of Arcadia (which was named after him), a sparsely populated, mountainous region in Central Greece adopted by the poets as a symbol of the quiet, rustic life
" Bazarov: < Russ. bazar = bazaar; also, the noise and commotion attached to it. Also < Russ. bazarit´/razbazarit´ = to waste one's time, talent and energy on fruitless pursuits
" Kirsanov: < ? Russ. kirasir < Fr. cuirassier = a prestigious category of officer in the Napoleonic period (reminiscent of Arkadii's grandfather, the old general)
" Odintsova: < Russ. odin = one, alone, solitary, lonel
Kukshina: < Russ. kuksha = colloquial term for certain birds of the crow family
" Sitnikov: < Russ. sitnik = a loaf of bread made from sifted flour

Monday, April 23
Read through Chap. 19 (p. 111)--or, if possible, through Chapter 24
Consider the following questions:
1. Analyze the Bazarov/Odintsoya relationship, observing the similarities and differences in their characters and the various stages in Bazarov's path to self-realization.
What kind of person is Anna Odintsova? In what ways could Bazarov be viewed as superior in comparison with Anna and the other characters? (Notice that the name "Odintsova derives from odin, which means "one or "alone .)
2. In chapter 13 Bazarov and Arkady meet two nihilists, Mrs. Kukshin and Sitnikov. What is the purpose of this satirical characterization? What is the basic difference between Bazarov and the two "emancipated" comrades?
Discussion leader:

For Wednesday, April 25
Read through Chap 20-24
Posting 5: April 23-27
1. Fathers and Sons: relationships between the generations in Turgenev.
2. The image of the new woman in Fathers and Sons.
3.. Realism in Fathers and Sons. What makes this novel fit the category of realism?
4. A theme, or passage, of your choice. Suggestions: look at the three estate settings; describe the changes in Bazarov after he meets Odintsova; Turgenev's portrait of the peasants; description of nature (pick a passage and do a close analysis).
5. This about the portrayal of women in Fathers and Sons: Fenechka, Odenstova, Kukshina, Katya, Bazarov's mother (later in the novel). How are these women alike? How are they different from the Western European women in Balzac and Flaubert? In what ways do they represent the social and political state of Russia in the 1860s? How does Bazarov change after during his stay at Anna Odinstsova's. Note the physical signs of change, and the narrator's description of the changes.
Discussion leader:

For Monday, April 30:Finish Fathers and Sons.

Russian peasant hats, 19th century

Russian sarafan

The Russian women's costume was based on the "sarafan" (a kind of sleeveless dress). The "sarafan" ensemble became widespread in Russia at the turn of the 18th century and comprised a shirt, "sarafan", belt, and apron. This costume was especially typical of the northern and central regions penetrating with time into the other parts of Russia where it ousted the local traditional dress. In the 18th century it was already associated with the Russian national costume. The "sarafan" was a daily attribute of peasant womenfolk and urban women belonging to the merchant, petty-bourgeois and other sections of the population.

The more archaic form of dress was based on the "poneva" skirt.

The earliest samples of national folk dress include festive costumes with "sarafans" of printed silken fabrics manufactured in Russia in the late 18th c. Their characteristic feature are oblique gores inserted between the sides of two straight widths in the front and one central width in the back. The "sarafan" had a long row of buttons in front and was suspended on wide straps. This type became known as the oblique-gore "sarafan". Another type was a simple affair of straight widths of cloth gathered in the front under a binding, having no buttons and also suspended on straps. It was known as the straight-cut or round "sarafan". The oblique-gore and straight-cut "sarafans" were genetically linked with ancient-Russian garments such as the "telogreya" (padded jacket) and "nakladnaya shubka" (outer coat). These diverse "sarafan" cuts could be observed in the 19th and early 20th cc. in different provinces of Russia.

"Sarafans" of silken fabrics printed with lavish flower bouquets and garlands were ornamented with golden gallons and metallic lace; silver or gilt buttons formed a decorative pattern along the seams. Such "sarafans" were worn with white shirts ("sleeves") of lawn or muslin heavily embroidered in chain-stitch with white thread, or with silken shirts of "sarafan" fabrics with flower prints. These festive "sarafans" and shirts were dearly valued and worn with care on holidays and handed down.

"Sarafans" were girdled at the waist with narrow belts having long loose ends. In different localities this attire was supplemented with a short "sarafan''-like garment - "epanechka", also made of silken manufactured fabric and decorated with golden galloon. On cold days a long-sleeved jacket -"dushegreya''-gathered on the back into tubular folds was worn. Its cut differed from the traditional style and was close to that of civil-type clothes. The festive "dushegre-ya" was made of silken fabric or velvet and embroidered with golden thread. In Russia's northern provinces the silk "sarafan" was worn with a head-dress decorated with needlework, pearls, golden and silver threads and mother-of-pearl plaques. These materials were also used for pectoral ornaments. from

For more pictures of peasant dress, soldier uniforms, St Petersburg, click here:

Discussion leader:

Wednesday, May 2: Review
Think about overarching themes in the novels we've read this semester. What motifs, concerns, stylistic techniques do they share? How are they different from the literature that preceded them (romanticism)? How are they shaped by the political, economic, social circumstances in which they were written?
How do they anticipate some of the literary movements that follow?
Discussion leader:

In all cases, you must submit a one-page proposal with

A clear, limited topic for your paper, stating the question that you will explore and the argument you will make.
A list of at least 3 secondary sources (some of these can come from the Norton critical editions we have been using). This should be in MLA format and ANNOTATED (for each source, write 2-3 sentences that justify its use for your particular topic).
A list at least 3 passages from the primary text that you will analyze closely in your paper as support for your argument. You will not merely summarize the passages, but rather subject them to a close, detailed reading that yields evidence to support your argument.

In-class presentations: E-mail me your topic, annotated bibliograhy, and passages for close analysis BEFORE the class during which you are presenting.

Wednesday, May 2
Monday, May 7
Wednesday, May 9
Monday, May 14

These presentations will be brief (5 minutes), and will, I hope, be organized loosely by topic. Ideally, the class will be divided into groups by novels or themes, and the presentations will be grouped accordingly.

Extra credit: If you feel you need an extra paper, you may want to do one of the following assignments:

Go to the decorative arts wing at the Met and look at the 19th-century French furniture rooms. Note not only the furniture, but also the vases, the accessories, the personal items (watches, etc) that complete the room. Write a paper connecting these furnishings to the descriptions of the salons of the aristocracy and the upper bourgeoisie in Balzac's Pere Goriot (2-3 pages, due by May 7).


Look at the worker or peasant scenes painted by Courbet or Millet at the Met. Connect this new painterly focus with the new "realistic" concerns of the 19th century European novels we've read this semester. Be specific!

Claude Lorrain, Acis and Galatea
Dostoevsky frequently referred to this painting in his works. Find the myth that the title refers to, and think about what this image might represent to Dostoevsky.

Check this website for more information about Dostoevsky's allusions to this painting:

Final paper: Due, by e-mail, May 22. NO LATE PAPERS ACCEPTED.

Possible topics: If you have an idea for a topic, be sure to send it to me for approval before you begin working on it.

1. Religious vision in Dostoevsky.
2. Provincial life: How does Flaubert's protrait of provincial life compare/contrast to life in Balzac's Paris? Be specific, and be sure to look for overlapping influences.
Heroes: What kind of hero is Bazarov? How does he reflect the philosophical movements of his times?
4. The provincial in the big city:: Eugene de Rastignac and Raskolnikov. What similarities do these two tales share? How are they different, and what accounts for their differences?
5. The bildungsroman: study this theme in any one of the novels we read, using historical sources to supplement the novel.
Materialism and its effects on social customs as seen through any one of the novels we have read.
8. Eyes and their gaze: in Pere Goriot,Madame Bovary, Crime and Punishment..
9. The theme of martyrdom in either Pere Goriot or Crime and Punishment
10.History in literature: choose any one of the novels, and research the some of the historical events that anchor its plot. (for example, the Restoration period in France; the emancipation of the serfs; the philosophical theories popular in 1860s Russia; the population shifts in 19th century Paris or St. Petersburg)
11. Girls too good to be true: the sacrificing female figure in Dostoevsky.
12. The realist novel as a mirror of social ills: analyze one of the social problems depicted in any one of the novels we have read (prostitution, alcoholism, disease, beggary, indebtedness). Research the historical accuracy of the novelistic depiction.
14. The prostitute in art and literature: images of prostitution in Dostoevsky and 19th-century painting.
13. The novel and other arts: choose one theme in one of the novels we read and analyze how that theme is mirrored in another art form. For example, you could look at Courbet's paintings and discuss their relationship to Flaubert's novel; you could analyze the romanticism of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and the fantasies of Emma Bovary.
14. Cityscapes: Balzac's Paris and Dostoevsky's St. Petersburg in fact and fiction.


French shoe, 1873

Possible (not exlcusive) topics (more to come): You should certainly feel free to suggest a topic of your own.
1. How does the resolution of the novel convey Flaubert's pessimism? (look at the fate of Berthe; changes in Charles after Emma's death; Homais' official recognition). How do these occurences reflect the social climate of Flaubert's time?

2. Window imagery in Madame Bovary.

2. Iin her affair with Rodolphe, Emma is controlled by him; he dominates her to the extent that "he made her into something compliant, something corrupt." Leon is controlled by Emma; she is the dominant, conventionally more masculine figure.

3. Discuss the notion of boredom and its central role in Madame Bovary.

4. "Deep down, all the while, she was waiting for something to happen. . . . Other people's lives, drab though they might be, held at least the possibility of an event. One unexpected happening often set in motion a whole chain of change: the entire setting of one's life could be transformed. But to her nothing happened." (Madame Bovary, 53). Does it seem, to the reader as to Emma, that nothing happens in Madame Bovary?

5. Take any passage from Madame Bovary and do a close analysis of the passage. In what ways do the themes, images, allusions, metaphors, similes reflect the overall themes of the book?

6. By use of "indirect free style" Flaubert contrasts the viewpoints of two characters from time to time in the novel. Explore the contrasting viewpoints upon an episode in the book of Charles and Emma, or of Rodolphe and Emma..

7. Compare the opening and closing scenes of the novel. Are there common themes? What are they, and how are they conveyed?

8. In his letters, Flaubert described Madame Bovary as "a book about nothing". He described his prose as trying to fulfill the ambition to be "as transparent as a plane of glass". He argued that art should be "pure"- unalloyed by ethical judgment-and he wrote of his wish to ally art with science rather than with moral judgment. Elaborate on these three notions. What do they mean? Are they connected in some way? Does the novel exhibit them? Does Flaubert judge Emma?

9. Discuss the role of the blind beggar in each of his three appearances.

10. Discuss the role of the narrator in Pere Goriot and in Madame Bovary.

11. Analyze the role of food and eating in the novel.

12. Analyze the theme of sight/blindness in the novel. Look at the frequent description of Emma's eyes, and the role of the blind beggar.
(some topics taken from MIT Free User Ware)



The Profound Ideas of Honore de Balzac's Pere Goriot Essay example

1455 Words6 Pages

The Profound Ideas of Honore de Balzac's Pere Goriot

Honore de Balzac published Pere Goriot in 1834 (1), one of the outstanding novels in his panoramic study of Parisian life, the Human Comedy. Throughout Pere Goriot, Balzac's narrator oscillates between the roles of social historian and moralist. Although the presence of both observer and commentator may initially seem mutually exclusive, it also is a large part of what makes this novel interesting and entertaining. Balzac's readers, as flesh-and-blood humans, do not segregate perception and judgment routinely in their everyday lives. By packaging profound ideas in a way similar to natural human expectation, Balzac's narrator achieves an especially comfortable and effective rapport…show more content…

Oh, age when everything shines and flames and glitters! Age of joyful strength that no one makes the most of, neither man nor woman! No man unfamiliar with the left bank of the Seine, between the Rue Saint-Jacques and the Rue des Saints-Peres, knows a thing about human life!2

Balzac's narrator acts as social historian throughout the passage, and a very astute one at that. In describing Rastignac's realization of the importance of clothes in his efforts to successfully enter Parisian high society, the narrator is making one case study of the new social mobility of the period. Industrialization and evolving methods of social stratification are themes which many historians might discuss--but Balzac's narrator goes farther, wondering how this changing society affects the relationship between an ambitious young man and his tailor. The result is unconventional, but effective.

As the passage continues, it describes more than this broad theme of social mobility. The mention of monetary sums, Paris streets and even mundane breakfast show a firm commitment to detail. Balzac's narrator is dedicated to cataloging the factual details of the moment in a way unlike most literature before him. In this, we see

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