Gustave Flaubert and Induced Feeling States
Dr. Lindenman presented this publication at the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center and at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis.
Gustave Flaubert is recognized as the father of the modern novel, and deservedly so. This paper first examines features of Flaubert’s psychic development: namely, the sado-masochistic features of his relationship both to his mother and father. These dynamics were apparent to Flaubert himself as revealed in his letters. These same dynamics then become the base of his relationship to the world and therefore to the reader.
One feature of his writing that reveals these difficulties is his use of certain narrative and stylistic techniques of his own invention. In large part, he revolutionized the role of the narrator. No longer would the reader be able to trust in the account of people and events in the novel. Things were no longer given as “true” but rather as dependent on some perspective or other. The Flaubertian narrator would slip in and out of the consciousness of the characters and thus could no longer be relied upon for a trustworthy account of events. Perhaps most insidious in these procedures was the narrator’s ability to induce a variety of feeling states in the reader. This paper examines the disturbance in the reader’s ability to know how to feel as well as how to think.