Books: High-Priced Literature

LETTERS OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT (248 pp.] Edited by Richard Rumbold—Philosophical Library ($3.75).

Gustave Flaubert was a great novelist, but a slapdash correspondent. These letters, most of them published in English for the first time, have none of the depth and polish of Madame Bovary. Often, in fact, they seem to have been written in tired irritation, as if his quest for the right word in his novels had sapped him of energy for anything else. They reflect a dull life but a dedicated one.

Flaubert's great passion was work: the endless quest for verbal...

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