Three Tales (Flaubert)

Last updated

Three Tales (Trois Contes) is a work by Gustave Flaubert that was originally published in French in 1877. It consists of the short stories "A Simple Heart", "Saint Julian the Hospitalier," and "Hérodias".

Contents

"A Simple Heart"

"A Simple Heart", or Un cœur simple in French, is a story about a servant girl named Felicité. After her one and only love Théodore purportedly marries a well-to-do woman to avoid conscription, Felicité quits the farm where she works and heads for Pont-l'Évèque, where she picks up work in a widow's house as a servant. She is very loyal, and easily lends her affections to the two children of her mistress, Mme Aubain. She gives entirely to others; although many take advantage of her, she is unaffected.

She has no husband, no children, and no property, and is reliant on her mistress to keep her; she is uneducated; her death is virtually unnoticed. Despite her life being seemingly pointless, she has within her the power to love, which she does even when she does not receive it in return. She also carries within her a yearning, a majestic quasi-religious sensibility which finds its apotheosis in the deification, as she dies, of her pet parrot who floats above her deathbed masquerading as the Holy Ghost. She lives a simple, unexamined life.

Flaubert's challenge was to create the main protagonist as someone very different from the satirical characters appearing in his previous novels such as Madame Bovary.

"The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitalier"

"The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitalier", in French La légende de Saint-Julien l'hospitalier, is a story about Julian the Hospitaller. (Note that the story has nothing to do with the Order of Hospitallers, despite the similarity of the names.) He is predicted at birth to do great things. His father is told that he will marry into the family of a great emperor, while his mother is told he will be a saint. They dote on him. After Julian kills a mouse who interrupted his concentration in church, his cruelty towards animals grows and culminates into his massacre of an entire valley of deer. A stag curses him to kill his own parents. He almost brings the curse to fruition twice: he drops a sword while standing on a ladder near his father, and he pins his mother's white shawl against a wall with a javelin because it looked like a bird's wings. He leaves to escape his future (much like Oedipus).

Julian joins a band of vagrants, and they eventually grow into a huge army under his control. He makes a name for himself and marries rich, but never hunts. Finally, his wife convinces him to go hunt and he is haunted by the spirits of all of the animals he has killed. He returns home to surprise his wife and finds a man and a woman in her bed. Unknown to him, his parents had arrived to see him and his wife had given them her bed. He thinks that it is another man sleeping with his wife and murders them. He recognizes his misdeed and leaves once again.

Having given all of his possessions to his wife, Julian begs for food but is shunned for his deeds. He comes across a deserted river crossing and decides to live a life of servitude. One day, there is a great storm and a leper wishes to cross. It is rough but Julian does not give up. Once across, the leper's requests increase. He wishes for food and wine, Julian's bed, and finally the warmth of Julian's body. When Julian gives the man everything without hesitation, the Leper is revealed to be Jesus Christ himself, who takes Julian with him to heaven.

"Hérodias"

"Hérodias" is the retelling of the beheading of John the Baptist. It starts slightly before the arrival of the Syrian governor, Vitellius. Herodias holds a huge birthday celebration for her second husband, Herod Antipas. Unknown to him, she has concocted a plan to behead John. According to Flaubert, this plan entails making her husband fall in love with her daughter, Salomé, leading to him promising her whatever she wants. Salomé, obviously in line with the instructions of her mother, will ask for John's head. Everything goes as planned. John has been repeatedly insulting the royals, so the king does not think long before granting Salomé's wish. The crowd gathered for the party waits anxiously while the executioner, Mannaeus, kills John. The story ends with some of John's disciples awaiting the Messiah.

Sources of inspiration

Related Research Articles

Gustave Flaubert French novelist

Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. According to the literary theorist Kornelije Kvas, "in Flaubert, realism strives for formal perfection, so the presentation of reality tends to be neutral, emphasizing the values and importance of style as an objective method of presenting reality". He is known especially for his debut novel Madame Bovary (1857), his Correspondence, and his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics. The celebrated short story writer Guy de Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert.

<i>Madame Bovary</i>

Madame Bovary, originally published as Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners, is the debut novel of French writer Gustave Flaubert, published in 1856. The eponymous character lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.

Julian Barnes English writer

Julian Patrick Barnes is an English writer. Barnes won the Man Booker Prize for his book The Sense of an Ending (2011), and three of his earlier books had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005). He has also written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. In addition to novels, Barnes has published collections of essays and short stories.

Salome

Salome, the daughter of Herod II and Herodias, granddaughter of Herod the Great, is known from accounts in the New Testament, where she appears as an unnamed daughter of Herodias, and an account by Flavius Josephus, where the daughter of Herodias is named Salome. In the New Testament she is mentioned as the stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, demanding and receiving the head of John the Baptist. According to Josephus, she was first married to her uncle Philip the Tetrarch, after whose death, she married her cousin Aristobulus of Chalcis, thus becoming queen of Chalcis and Armenia Minor.

Herodias 1st century AD Herodian Dynasty princess

Herodias was a princess of the Herodian dynasty of Judaea during the time of the Roman Empire. Legend connects her with John the Baptist's execution.

<i>Salome</i> (play) Tragedy by Oscar Wilde

Salome is a tragedy by Oscar Wilde. The original 1891 version of the play was in French. Three years later an English translation was published. The play tells in one act the Biblical story of stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, who, to her stepfather's dismay but to the delight of her mother Herodias, requests the head of Jokanaan on a silver platter as a reward for pleasing Herod for her dancing, which is described for the first time in this play as the dance of the seven veils.

Dance of the Seven Veils

The Dance of the Seven Veils is Salome's dance performed before Herod II. It is an elaboration on the biblical story of the execution of John the Baptist, which refers to Salome dancing before the king, but does not give the dance a name.

<i>Flauberts Parrot</i>

Flaubert's Parrot is a novel by Julian Barnes that was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1984 and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize the following year. The novel recites amateur Gustave Flaubert expert Geoffrey Braithwaite's musings on his subject's life, and his own, as he looks for a stuffed parrot that inspired the great author.

<i>Paul et Virginie</i> 1788 novel by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre

Paul et Virginie is a novel by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, first published in 1788. The novel's title characters are friends since birth who fall in love. The story is set on the island of Mauritius under French rule, then named Île de France. Written on the eve of the French Revolution, the novel is recognized as Bernardin's finest work. It records the fate of a child of nature corrupted by the artificial sentimentality of the French upper classes in the late eighteenth century. Bernardin de Saint-Pierre lived on the island for a time and based part of the novel on a shipwreck he witnessed there.

Julian the Hospitaller 1st-century Roman Catholic saint

Julian the Hospitaller is a Roman Catholic saint.

<i>Hérodiade</i> Opera by Jules Massenet

Hérodiade is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Paul Milliet and Henri Grémont, based on the novella Hérodias (1877) by Gustave Flaubert. It was first performed at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels on 19 December 1881.

Kuchuk Hanem was a famed beauty and Ghawazee dancer of Esna, mentioned in two unrelated nineteenth-century accounts of travel to Egypt, the French novelist Gustave Flaubert and the American adventurer George William Curtis.

Beheading of John the Baptist biblical event and holy day observed by various Christian churches

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, also known as the Decollation of Saint John the Baptist or the Beheading of the Forerunner, is a biblical event and holy day observed by various Christian churches that follow liturgical traditions. The day commemorates the martyrdom by beheading of Saint John the Baptist on the orders of Herod Antipas through the vengeful request of his step-daughter Salome and her mother Herodias.

Camille Erlanger

Camille Erlanger was a Parisian-born French opera composer. He studied at the Paris Conservatory under Léo Delibes (composition), Georges Mathias (piano), as well as Émile Durand and Antoine Taubon (harmony). In 1888 he won the Prix de Rome for his cantata Velléda. His most famous opera, Le Juif polonais, was produced at the Opéra-Comique in 1900.

<i>Salome</i> (1953 film) 1953 film

Salome is a 1953 American Drama Biblical film directed by William Dieterle and produced by Buddy Adler from a screenplay by Harry Kleiner and Jesse Lasky Jr. The music score was by George Duning, the dance music by Daniele Amfitheatrof and the cinematography by Charles Lang. Rita Hayworth's costumes were designed by Jean Louis. Hayworth's dances for this film were choreographed by Valerie Bettis. This film was the last produced by Hayworth's production company, the Beckworth Corporation.

<i>Salomé</i> (2002 film)

Salomé is a 2002 Spanish film directed by Carlos Saura. The film is told from the perspective of a flamenco dance company that will mount a show devoted to the mythical and biblical figure of Salomé, as a story of love and vengeance. The movie is both about the performance and the preparation for it.

<i>LApparition</i> 1876 painting by Gustave Moreau

The Apparition(French: L'Apparition) is a painting by French artist Gustave Moreau, painted between 1874 and 1876. It shows the biblical character of Salome dancing in front of Herod Antipas with a vision of John the Baptist's head. The 106 cm high and 72,2 cm wide watercolor held by the Paris Musée d'Orsay elaborates an episode told in the Gospel of Matthew 14:6–11 and Mark 6:21–29. On a feast on the occasion of Herod Antipas' birthday, the princess Salome dances in front of the king and his guest, pleasing him so much he promises her anything she wished for. Incited by her mother Herodias, who was reproved by the imprisoned John the Baptist for her illegitimate marriage to Herod, Salome demands John's head in a charger. Regretful but compelled to keep his word in front of his peers, Herod fulfills Salome's demand. John the Baptist is beheaded, the head brought in a charger and given to Salome, who gives it to her mother.

Hérodiade and Hérodias are French versions of the name of Herodias, wife of Herod II, and later of Herod Antipas. The French version of the name may refer to:

La Légende de Saint-Julien L’hospitalier is an 1897 opera by Camille Erlanger based on the story of the same name by Gustave Flaubert. It was Erlanger's first opera, and following a concert performance at the conservatoire in 1894 was produced at the Opera-comique, Paris, in 1897.

<i>Salome Dancing before Herod</i> 1876 oil painting by Gustave Moreau

Salome Dancing before Herod is an oil painting produced in 1876 by the French Symbolist artist Gustave Moreau. The subject matter is taken from the New Testament, depicting Salome—the daughter of Herod II and Herodias—dancing before Herod Antipas.

References

  1. Gustave Flaubert: Three Tales: New York: Dover Publications: 2004 (back cover)