Œuvres complètes de Gustave Flaubert, tome 4: L’éducation


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Welcome to the fourth volume of the complete works of Gustave Flaubert, titled “L’éducation” (“Education”). In this volume, readers are presented with a comprehensive collection of Flaubert’s writings on the theme of education, exploring the complexities and challenges of intellectual, moral, and social development. From his iconic novel “Madame Bovary” to his lesser-known works and correspondence, Flaubert’s insights into the educational process offer readers a profound and thought-provoking exploration of the human condition.


“L’éducation” brings together Flaubert’s most celebrated works on the theme of education, providing readers with a comprehensive overview of his thoughts and ideas on this vital aspect of human life. The volume includes his seminal novel “Madame Bovary,” which tells the story of Emma Bovary, a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage who seeks escape through romantic fantasies and extramarital affairs. Through Emma’s experiences, Flaubert explores the consequences of a deficient education and the dangers of unrealistic expectations.

In addition to “Madame Bovary,” the volume features other works by Flaubert that examine the theme of education from different perspectives. These include “L’éducation sentimentale” (“Sentimental Education”), a novel that follows the life of Frédéric Moreau as he navigates the complexities of love, ambition, and disillusionment in 19th-century France. Through Frédéric’s experiences, Flaubert offers a searing critique of the educational system and its failure to prepare individuals for the challenges of adulthood.

The volume also includes a selection of Flaubert’s lesser-known works, including essays, short stories, and correspondence, which further explore the theme of education in various contexts. From his reflections on the role of literature in shaping moral character to his observations on the social and political forces that influence educational practices, Flaubert’s writings offer readers a rich and nuanced exploration of the educational process and its impact on individuals and society as a whole.


The central theme of “L’éducation” is the exploration of the educational process and its effects on individuals and society. Through his works, Flaubert examines the various factors that shape an individual’s intellectual, moral, and social development, from the influence of family and upbringing to the role of formal education and cultural norms. He also delves into the consequences of a deficient education, including the potential for moral corruption, social alienation, and personal tragedy.

Another important theme is the tension between idealism and reality in the educational process. Flaubert’s works often depict characters who are disillusioned by the gap between their lofty aspirations and the harsh realities of life. Whether it is Emma Bovary’s romantic fantasies, Frédéric Moreau’s ambitious dreams, or the naïve idealism of Flaubert’s protagonists, the author explores the ways in which education can both empower and deceive individuals, leading them to confront the harsh truths of existence.

Why Read “L’éducation”:

For readers interested in exploring the complexities of the human condition through the lens of education, “L’éducation” offers a compelling and thought-provoking collection of works by one of the greatest writers of the 19th century. Flaubert’s keen insight into the human psyche, his mastery of narrative technique, and his profound understanding of the social and cultural forces that shape individuals make this volume essential reading for anyone interested in literature, psychology, or sociology.

About the Author:

Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) was a French novelist best known for his meticulous attention to detail, psychological depth, and masterful prose style. Born into a bourgeois family in Rouen, France, Flaubert received a classical education and went on to study law in Paris. However, he soon abandoned his legal studies to pursue a career as a writer, eventually achieving fame and critical acclaim with his novels “Madame Bovary” and “Sentimental Education.” Throughout his life, Flaubert maintained a rigorous commitment to artistic perfection, earning him a reputation as one of the leading figures of literary realism.


As you explore the pages of “L’éducation” by Gustave Flaubert, prepare to embark on a profound and enlightening journey into the heart of the human experience. Through his richly imagined characters, intricate plots, and incisive social commentary, Flaubert offers readers a captivating exploration of the educational process and its impact on individuals and society. So immerse yourself in Flaubert’s world, and discover the timeless insights and enduring relevance of his works in “L’éducation.”

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