I don't remember any real "bad guys" in anything else of Flaubert's. Even when characters leave a path of destruction behind them, like Emma Bovary, you understand them. The cold cruelty of Julien disturbed me too.Mista wrote:I'd love to hear what you think about it. I was wondering at one point if I would be able to finish it, because it was so disgusting. I did get through, though. But I think the objective and unemotional style of writing made the emotional effect even stronger. The ending, however, had more of a cleansing feeling to me, although I think that must have been meant to feel disgusting too. Maybe? Also, I suppose the story is based on a real legend (haven't checked that, though), so there's always the question of what was in the original story and what Flaubert has done to it.kanewai wrote:I also finished Légende de Saint Julien l'Hospitalier, but I'll hold off writing about it until next week.
I've also read Hérodias, but there I'm mostly left with a feeling that I missed something. I'm considering if I should read the story in the Bible and then read the Flaubert story again, now with a computer on my side so I can look up the words that aren't in my Kindle dictionary (I think some of the vocabulary in that story was exceptionally obscure, due to the setting).
I looked up the legend of St. Julien afterwards, and it helped me understand the short story better. In the legend Julien is too pious to be interesting - he loves Jesus, he loves his parents, and he's a friend and counselor to the king. He's also a great hunter. He's just perfect, and it's the devil who tricks him into committing the big crime.
This made Flaubert's take much more interesting: Julien is an arrogant p.o.s., and it's his arrogance that destroys him. He earns his redemption after losing everything he ever loved. And I admired the short story more now that I know how Flaubert played with the legend.
I should get to Hérodias next week. I figure that Flaubert was writing for people who probably knew their bible far better than I do, so it should help to know the story ahead of time.