Gustave Flaubert: La tentation de saint Antoine [The Temptation of Saint Anthony]

(2638 words)
  • Mary Margaret Orr (University of Southampton)

For those familiar with Madame Bovary (1857) or L'Education sentimentale (1869), the experience of reading Flaubert's least-known and least-discussed work is a shock. The Tentation de Saint Antoine's static central protagonist, his uncertain “dialogues” with a plethora of two-dimensional mouthpieces for strange religious and philosophical ideas (the “temptations”), and the whirl of intercalated descriptions – all present utter confusion of meanings, if indeed meanings are to be had in this wayward text. Even stoical readers armed with some knowledge of the overwhelming erudition behind the work, in terms of its many historical and religious references, admit t…

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Orr, Mary Margaret. "La tentation de saint Antoine". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 April 2008
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]