From The First Sentimental Education

I am reading up on Flaubert on a whim, partly, though also because he wrote in the first person present tense, a device sometimes attacked as a recent literary pretension (and as such, an unwanted upstart, aesthetically). More on that on a post to come hopefully this weekend.

I found this inside the introduction to Flaubert’s The First Sentimental Education:

  • I too have had my period of nervousness, my sentimental stage; and like a galley slave, I still carry it’s mark on my neck. Besides, can one ever forget anything, does anything ever disappear, can one separate himself from anything at all? Even the most frivolous of persons, if they could reflect for a moment, would be astounded at what they have retained of their past. There are subterranean constructions in everything; it’s only a question of surface and depth. Plumb the depths and you shall find.

It is much on my mind.


  1. Do you know that Richard Howard is doing a new translation? I think he said that the French “sentimental” really means “emotional.” Which it seems to in the passage you quote. I haven’t read it in decades, but this makes me want to.

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