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Sentimental Education; Or, The History of a Young Man


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“Sentimental Education”

is a novel by French author Gustave Flaubert, first published in 1869. It is a coming-of-age story that follows the life of the young man Frederic Moreau as he navigates his way through the turbulent social and political landscape of mid-19th-century France.

Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous events of the July Monarchy and the rise of Napoleon III, the novel is a complex portrait of the social, political, and cultural forces that shaped the world of mid-19th-century France. It is also a deeply personal story that explores the themes of love, desire, ambition, and disillusionment.

One of the key themes of “Sentimental Education” is the tension between romantic idealism and the harsh realities of the world. Frederic Moreau is a dreamy and idealistic young man who longs for love, adventure, and success. However, as he navigates the complex social and political world of mid-19th-century France, he is repeatedly forced to confront the harsh realities of life and the limitations of his own ambitions and desires.

Another important theme of the novel is the role of class and social status in shaping the lives of its characters. Moreau comes from a middle-class background, and he aspires to rise above his station and become a member of the upper class. However, his attempts to do so are repeatedly thwarted by the social and economic realities of his time.

Throughout the novel, Flaubert portrays the complex social and political landscape of mid-19th-century France with a masterful eye for detail. He depicts the various factions and interest groups vying for power, the shifting alliances and rivalries, and the complex web of social and economic relationships that shaped the world of his time.

At the same time, Flaubert is also a master of character and psychology. He creates a rich and complex portrait of Frederic Moreau, a character who is at once sympathetic and deeply flawed. Moreau is a character who is driven by his desires and passions, yet he is also capable of great self-delusion and moral weakness.

Overall, “Sentimental Education” is a masterful work of literature that offers a rich and complex portrait of mid-19th-century France. Its themes of love, desire, ambition, and disillusionment, as well as its keen insights into the social and political realities of its time, have made it a classic of French literature and an enduring masterpiece of world literature.

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