Monday, March 17, 2008

Flaubert on the Novel

"The story, the plot of a novel is of no interest to me. When I write a novel I aim at rendering a color, a shade. For instance, in my Carthaginian novel, I want to do something purple. The rest, the characters and the plot, is a mere detail. In Madame Bovary, all I wanted to do was to render a grey color, the moldy color of a wood-louse's existence. The story of the novel mattered so little to me that a few days before starting on it I still had in mind a very different Madame Bovary from the one I created: the setting and the overall tone were the same, but she was to have been a chaste and devout old maid. And then I realized that she would have been an impossible character." -- Flaubert, March 17, 1861

I've been trying to get this notion into various people's heads for a while now, and they just give me a blank look. They think a book is supposed to be about something. Not necessarily. And I know that whenever I create something, it inevitably takes on a life of its own. Sometimes it's a keeper; sometimes not. It's always a surprise.

3 comments:

ThomasLB said...

I'm always more interested in characterization than plot. If the people are interesting, they'll be interesting to me no matter what they're doing.

Snark said...

Well, you've always said right. ;) (Well, it's my blog and so, uh, I'm the decider.)

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