Gustave Flaubert

On this date in 1821, novelist Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen, France. Destined by his family for medicine, Flaubert preferred the world of literature. He traveled widely for nearly two years, and ascended to the top of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. After trying his hand at poetry, Flaubert became a novelist. His classic, Madame Bovary, which took him five years to write, was published in 1857. Its realistic portrayal of adultery offended religious sensibilities. Flaubert was criminally prosecuted, but escaped conviction. Flaubert's friends and correspondents included many leading skeptical literati of his day, including Zola, George Sand and Turgenev. Flaubert also wrote four other novels, including Salammbo (1862) and The Temptation of Saint Antoine (1874), which reveals some of his skepticism, a book of short stories and a play. Flaubert is widely quoted as saying, "It is necessary to sleep upon the pillow of doubt." D. 1880.

“And I can't admit of an old boy God who takes walks in his garden with a cane in his hand, who lodges his friends in the belly of whales, dies uttering a cry, and rises again after three days; things absurd in themselves, and completely opposed, moreover, to all physical laws, which proves to us, by the way, that priests have always wallowed in squalid ignorance, and tried to drag whole nations down after them.”

—Pharmacist in Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. (Source: Warren Allen Smith, Who's Who in Hell)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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