Flaubert and Hunting: La Légende de Saint Julien L'Hospitalier

A close study of the sources, notes, drafts, and final form of passages concerning hunting in Flaubert's Saint Julien displays his purposes in seeking documentation, his methods of research, his use of data in early drafts, and his ultimate freeing of himself from these materials for the creation of literary form. Flaubert's sources for these passages were only in part medieval works: To an important extent he used nineteenth-century books on hunting as practiced in his own days, transposing their ambiance to the medieval period. In so doing and in striving to master more data than he could easily assimilate, he made a number of inadvertent errors, which he compounded by deliberate departures from fact late in the process of drafting. Upon examination, however, the errors and deliberate departures from fact prove undetectable to all but the specialist in medieval hunting. Moreover, they all heighten the effectiveness of the passage: Literature has transcended external fact. This study examines the process and the result and concludes with a similar discussion of the episode of the Great Stag as it derives from its wholly improbable source in the nineteenth century. (BFB)

Bart, B. F
Volume 1975-1976 Spring; 4(1-2): 31-52.