This book examines the relationship between description and signification in three novels by Flaubert:
Madame Bovary, Salammbô, and
L'Education Sentimentale. Contrary to thematic or structuralist criticism, this study demonstrates how Flaubert's images fluctuate between the possibility of a mimetic or symbolic integration into the narrative continuity, and a resistance to interpretation which anticipates the modern self-referential novel. This critical analysis shows how Flaubert's descriptive passages are subject to various possibilities of meaning and non-meaning that disorient the readers by exposing them to ambiguous and unexpected forms of fictional discourse.