Flaubert, best known for his part in fathering the modern novel, also wrote wonderful short fiction. This Saturday morning, I recommend curling up with “A Simple Heart.” A tribute to George Sand, this story was first published in 1877 as part of Flaubert’s final finished work, Three Tales; almost 100 years later it inspired Julian Barnes to write the novel Flaubert’s Parrot, which was shortlisted for the 1984 Booker Prize.
Here’s a taste from “A Simple Heart”:
For fifty years the ladies of Pont-l’Évêque envied Madame Aubain her servant Felicity.
For a hundred francs a year she cooked, and cleaned, sewed, washed, ironed, could harness a horse, fatten up poultry, churn butter; and she remained loyal to her mistress who, all the same, was not an agreeable person.
Her face was thin and her voice sharp. At twenty-five years of age you would have guessed her to be forty. After her fiftieth year she showed no traces of any age at all; and, always silent, upright in carriage, and measured in gesture, she seemed a woman made of wood, functioning automatically.
She had had, like any one else, her love story.
You can read the rest here via Daily Pulp.