Since his mother died in 1872, Flaubert had contemplated writing Bouvard et Pécuchet, the last of his five major novels. He considered the work to be his intellectual testament, expressing his final judgment of humanity and all its enterprises. He worked assiduously on it from 1874 until his sudden death in 1881, reading fifteen hundred books from many fields in order to document the two title characters’ futile search for knowledge. Jacques Neefs (1993) memorably demonstrates how cavalierly Flaubert treated these sources. For each subject, he selects works whose views contrast most starkly. He condenses them unsparingly until they achieve a lapidary absurdity. A writer’s criteria of dynamic rhythm and …
Porter, Laurence M.. "Bouvard et Pécuchet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 August 2011; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6215, accessed 27 April 2015.]