Gustave Flaubert’s Alfred

Philosopher Alfred Le Poittevin (1816 — 1848) was the first and the best friend
of Gustave Flaubert. After the death of Le Poittevin, Flaubert would write
“I don’t spend a single day without dreaming of him” and he would write to
Le Poittevin’s sister “For me, he died two deaths.”

Flaubert states that he has refused to recognize all intimate writing of this kind:
“I find nothing more to say to myself.” There are few more lines in a similar vein
on the notebook from 1870 or 1871, when Flaubert was turning Fifty.

The pages begins with an encomium to suicide: “the most consoling
idea of all.” Farther down are the words: “The first A (If) left me for a
woman, the second B (ouil) for a woman, the third D (uc) left me for
a woman! All of them! All! Am I a monster?”

“The absurd man is the man who never changes.” And at the bottom
of the page, “The absurd man is me. Poor old fool who still carries with
him at fifty the devotion that they had (perhaps) at eighteen!”

As Jorge Luis Borges would said, “None of Flaubert’s creatures is as real as Flaubert.”