Victor Brombert reviews Flaubert: A Biography by Frederick Brown, in the Times Literary Supplement:
Flaubert maintained that a writer should never celebrate himself, that he should in fact pretend not to have lived. He claimed to be an “homme plume”, a pen man, and that the only adventures in his life were the sentences he wrote. Yet he was not always tied to his desk, quill in hand. He travelled to Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Greece. In Paris, in 1848, he witnessed the street fighting and the violence of the mob. He frequented some of the most notable people of the period: the sculptor James Pradier, the brothers Edmond and Jules Goncourt, the critic Sainte-Beuve, the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, George Sand – with whom he developed a tender friendship – Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, and Maupassant, who considered himself Flaubert’s disciple. He had a turbulent affair with the writer Louise Colet, one of the most flamboyant women of the century.