The Dance of Death
4 Installments—Entirely free
We hear the mighty voices of Death, Satan, and the powerful emperor Nero in Gustave Flaubert’s 1838 Dance of Death, a strange and lyrical short work often referred to as a prose poem. In words that weave terrifying and darkly beautiful imagery, each character speaks of himself and his purpose. After Death and Satan have described the realms they inhabit and their attitudes towards humankind, our attention shifts to Nero. It soon becomes clear that Nero, the only mortal character of the three, does not realize that his encounter with these two frightening beings cannot bode well. In fact, to his horror, Nero finds out that the moment may have arrived for him to lay down his life of excess and pleasure. Will he succumb to the Grim Reaper or plunge into the fiery pits of Hell? A startlingly unconventional work, melodic and mystical, The Dance of Death invites all readers to take a not-so-gentle literary dip into that good night.
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Born into a comfortable French family in a quiet town, Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) wrote from an early age. Flaubert left home to attend law school in Paris. However, the bustling metropolis was not to his liking, and the young man returned to his family home, where he would remain for the rest of his life. Flaubert traveled often, visiting such exotic locales as Greece and Egypt. His mind was opened, and his imagination sparked. He found his calling as a writer and began publishing books soon afterwards. Flaubert's second novel, Madame Bovary, would bring him the most fame and notoriety. Both the author and his publisher were brought to trial over the novel's scandalous story of a respectable wife’s fall from grace into adultery. Society was not ready for Emma Bovary and Flaubert's frank portrayal of her boredom, despair, and turn to sexual transgression. Flaubert was not discouraged from pursuing his art, despite the public's harsh reaction to his work. He went on to write The Sentimental Education, and Bouvard and Pecuchet, novels that to this day, along with Madame Bovary, represent a groundbreaking artistic commitment to honesty and unflinching realism.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
At night, in winter, when the snow-flakes fall slowly from heaven like great white tears, I raise my voice; its resonance thrills the cypress trees and makes them bud anew.
I pause an instant in my swift course over earth; throw myself down among cold tombs; and, while dark-plumaged birds rise ...
Reviewed by emiletic on Jul 16, 2009
A peak into Death's life; how's that for an oxymoron.
Seems like it needed another installment to make sense.
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Ratings for 'The Dance of Death' by Flaubert, Gustave