Flaubert: Transportation, Progression, Progress

by Kate Rees (Author)
©2010 Monographs X, 192 Pages


A belief in progress tells us something about the way a society views itself. Progress speaks of confidence, optimism and dynamism. It assures us of pattern and structure. In the nineteenth century, as the Christian model of development is increasingly challenged and as geological findings expand understanding of history, so progress emerges from the Enlightenment as an ever more acute subject for debate. This book addresses the theme of progress and patterns of progression in the work of Flaubert. Through close textual analysis of his works and particular scrutiny of his narrative structures, this book argues that Flaubert’s position in the mid-nineteenth century situates his work at an intriguing historical crossroads, between Romantic faith in progress and assertions of Decadent decline. Flaubert’s response to progress is rich and complicated, offering stimulating views of momentum and perfectibility.
In this study, actual progression is seen as a metaphor for understanding Flaubert’s attitude to historical progress. Each chapter focuses on a particular vehicle or pattern of movement, analysing journeys undertaken by characters in Flaubert’s texts as models of disrupted, non-linear progression which provide a counter-current to contemporary ideologies of progress. A closing chapter examines connections between Flaubert and Huysmans, investigating the response to progress in later nineteenth-century literature.


X, 192
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2011 (February)
historical crossroads Romantic decadent decline progress
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2010. X, 192 pp.

Biographical notes

Kate Rees (Author)

The Author: Kate Rees is a Lecturer in French at The Queen’s College, Oxford. She completed a D.Phil. thesis on Flaubert at Oxford in 2006 and held a Kathleen Bourne Research Fellowship at St Anne’s College, Oxford, before taking up her present post. She is the author of articles and conference papers on the work of Flaubert and Huysmans.


Title: Flaubert: Transportation, Progression, Progress