Fourth Version of Flaubert's Tentation de Saint Antoine (1869)

A fourth version of Flaubert's La Tentation de Saint Antoine, not previously described, is found in the Bibliothèque Nationale, NAF 23667. Flaubert's Correspondance suggests that this version was drafted in July 1869. It abridges the 1856 version nearly by half, with rapid transitions, five pages of which are reproduced in this article. Flaubert eliminated episodes that seemed digressive (the Sphinx and Chimera; many pagan gods), as well as the strong legendary personalities who overshadowed Saint Anthony (Simon the Magician and Apollonius of Tyana). A detailed chart shows which episodes were included in the 1849, 1856, 1869, and 1874 texts. Later Flaubert restored much that had been provisionally deleted, adding descriptions of the saint's memories so as to reveal the origins of the visions and to make the work more coherent. The vision of monsters becomes part of the final epiphany rather than a demonic temptation, so as to grant Saint Anthony a wisdom shared with Spinoza. The spiritual is not the antithesis of matter. The spiritual is anything in a right relationship to God. (LMP)

Porter, Laurence M
Volume 1975-1976 Fall-Winter; 4(1-2): 53-66.