福楼拜对风格异乎寻常的追求。 We cannot write about rhythm and not refer to Flaubert, and so once again, as if unable to stop rereading the old letters of a former lover, I return to him. Of course writers before him had agonized about style. But no novelist agonized as much or as publicly, no novelist fetishized the poetry of "the sentence" in the same way, no novelist pushed to such an extreme the potential alienation of form and content (Flaubert longed to write what he called a "book about nothing"). And no novelist before Flaubert reflected as self-consciously on questions of technique. With Flaubert, literature became "essentially problematic," as one scholar puts it.
Or just modern? Flaubert himself affected a nostalgia for the great unselfconscious writers who came before him, the beasts of instinct who just got on with it, like Moliere and Cervantes; they, said Flaubert in his letters, "had no techniques." He, on the other hand, was betrothed to "atrocious labor" and "fanaticism." This fanaticism was applied to the music and rhythm of the sentence. In different ways, the modern novelist is shadowed by that monkish labor. The rich stylist (the Bellow, the Updike) is made newly self-conscious about his richness; but the plainer stylist (Hemingway, for example) has also become self-conscious about his plainness, itself now resembling a form of highly controlled and minimalist richness, a stylishness of renunciation. The realist feels Flaubert breathing down his neck: Is it well written enough? But the formalist or postmodernist is also indebted to Flaubert for the dream of a book about nothing, a book flying high on style alone. (Alain Robbe-Grillet and Nathalie Sarraute, originators of the nouveau roman, were explicit about crediting Flaubert as their great precursor.)
Flaubert loved to read aloud. It took him thirty-two hours to read his overblown lyrical fantasia, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, to two friends. And when he dined in Paris at the Goncourts', he loved to read out examples of bad writing. Turgenev said that he knew of "no other writer who scrupled in quite that way." Even Henry James, the master stylist, was somewhat appalled by the religious devotion with which Flaubert assassinated repetition, unwanted cliches, clumsy sonorities. The scene of his writing has become notorious: the study at Croisset, the slow river outside the window, while inside the bearish Norman, wrapped in his dressing gown and wreathed in pipe smoke, groaned and complained about how slow 引自 C8——Language