Elusive, like Gustave Flaubert

In January 1857, Gustave Flaubert appeared for contempt of public and religious morals. His first novel, Madame Bovary, is accused of perverting readers and threatening the traditional family model, by portraying an adulterous woman, “Voluptuous and corrupting”. At the end of a heated trial, where not only the future of Flaubert but also the freedom of creation is at stake, he will be finally acquitted.

This judicial episode, crucial in the author’s life, serves as a starting point for the two highlights of the special programming devoted to him by France Télévisions on the occasion of the bicentenary of his birth. This Monday, “Secrets d’histoire” opens with this event in order to present the writer as a man freed from bourgeois conventions, contemptuous of the narrow France of the XIXe century. Stéphane Bern follows in his footsteps since his childhood at the Hôtel-Dieu in Rouen, with a father surgeon, until his voluntary imprisonment in Croisset, where this hard worker will compose his masterpieces.

Flaubert, a feminist ahead of time?

We should not expect any revelation from this fairly agreed portrait, which insists on Flaubert’s insatiable carnal appetite in somewhat ridiculous fictional sequences, but which avoids the pitfall of hagiography by recalling his goujaterie, his taste for worldliness. and its misanthropy. Next Monday, also on France 3, the TV movie Emma Bovary makes Flaubert a great defender of the cause of women, through the innovative figure of his favorite heroine, an unhappy wife and a scorned lover, whom no one has tried to understand.

→ ANALYSIS. Gustave Flaubert, a historian as we like them

In an elegant staging served by a solid cast (Thierry Godard, Laurent Stocker, Grégory Fitoussi …), Didier Bivel alternates the reconstruction sequences of the 1857 trial and the imaging of the novel itself, the story of an impossible emancipation which continues to move, 164 years after its publication.


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