Flaubert's Parrot Social Concerns

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Though certainly concerned with social issues of the time, the concerns of Flaubert's Parrot affect relatively few people. Rather than worry about issues of race, ethnicity, gender or class division, Barnes, with a flamboyance which betrays a faith in Oscar Wilde's aphorism about art being useless, considers various ethical issues pertaining to the related (but not synonymous) tasks of reading and literary criticism. What, Barnes asks in various ways, should be the relationship between a reader and his or her favorite author, or a critic and his or her favorite victim?

Flaubert's Parrot chronicles an amateur scholar's attempt to solve mysteries about his favorite author, nineteenth-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert. Geoffrey Braithwaite, a doctor by trade, tries to answer an innocuous question: Which of two stuffed parrots actually sat on Flaubert's desk while he composed a story in which a parrot played a crucial role? In the course...

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This section contains 731 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Flaubert's Parrot Study Guide
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