[Insert usual apologies about absence here. It’s finals week. Get over it.]
I’m cuddled up in bed with the Michael Buble Holiday Pandora station set to an audible but not-too-loud volume, sipping some peppermint tea, thinking about writing the final paper for my European Novels class, and WHAT BETTER TIME THAN THAT to write a blog post, I always say!
I’m “writing” this paper on a little novel called Madame Bovary. Ever heard of it? Well I certainly hope so because PSYCH! this post is also going to be about that fabulously smutty novel and the elegantly mustachioed gentleman who wrote it. Mwahahaa PAPER RESEARCH TURNED BLOG POST. I’m efficient, motherfuckers. Get used to it.
For brevity’s sake (because it’s finals time, we get it, bitches, you gotta do whatchu gotta do) we’re going to skip over Gustave’s Flaubert’s childhood and life/career in general and just talk about the good stuff. He only had one major romantic relationship in his life, and that was with a poet-lady named Louise Colet. Colet was a righteous bitch who I just fell in love with after skimming her Wiki page. A couple years before she and Gustave started touching parts, she gave birth to a daughter, and neither her husband nor her lover (woops!) would say they were the baby-daddy. After all of her lovers (she had like four or five, not including Flaubert) kicked the bucket, she supported herself and her daughter by writing poetry. How cool is that?? Anyway, Flaubert and Colet were getting it on for, like 8 years, so it was a good chunk of time. Especially considering she was married and had an unclaimed love-baby for all of that time. After that extended tryst ended, Flaubert left Paris and moved back in with his mommy in Croisset near Rouen.
He apparently had a mistress or two before he died, but he never married and nothing with those bitches was every as serious as it was with Louise. He did, however, know (biblically speaking) probably hundreds of prostitutes. Male and Female. And he was really open about it. He wrote all about his sexploits with prostitutes from all over the world in his letters home – hopefully not to his mother, but who knows. According to such epistolary accounts, a young Turkish girl gave him a pesky cancher sore on his penis, he had anal sex with a male prostitute from Egypt who was “pock-marked” and wore a turban, and he contracted syphilis in Beirut. It was like the UN of STDs up in there.
The real scandalosity of Flaubert’s life came upon the publication of his greatest work (arguably), Madame Bovary. I would highly recommend not reading further if you have not read the book and you plan to do so at some point. Because you don’t want this shit ruined. It’s fucking juicy. Unless you don’t care, in which case, fuck it, we’ll do it live, amiright? But don’t blame me for spoiling the ending if you keep reading, MMKAY?
So, MB is published and people fucking love it. Women all over France are like, “This bitch is me! I’m Madame fucking Bovary!” And Flaubert is like, “Non non non non, Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” (He really did say that – I don’t make everything up, I swear.) But the authoritee, the man, the homme, if you will, is like, “Whooooah whooahh there, Gus, you can’t publish shit like this. Bitch has the loosest morals since, like, Eve, and she’s your heroine. Not cool.”
So the homme is like, “See you in court, son.” Because people said shit like that before SVU. And in 1856, before its extended publication, he was sued for having written the obscenity that was Madame Bovary. And guess what his defense was that allowed him to walk away and the book to become a bestseller and one of the most influential novels in history! “I killed the bitch!” How could Flaubert be condoning the character of Emma Bovary if he gave her the axe in the end? The scandal surrounding the trial made the novel’s release infinitely more popular than it would have been, probably. So joke’s on them!
If you stopped reading before because you didn’t want the book ruined, you can join us again.
Flaubert, I have come to grudgingly (since I didn’t like this class so much) realize, was a genius. I found out that he coined my favorite expression of all time, “God is in the details.” And when you read MB, you can really tell what he meant by that. The hyperdetail of MB creates a reality that is fucking holy, if you ask me. He was a perfectionist, not in his sexual health necessarily, but in his writing, and used to say “There is no such thing as a synonym, there is always a perfect word.”
Apparently I have wasted hours of my life trying to come up with synonyms for “boning.”
Not that I’m making excuses, but let me make an explanation for my blog absence. My blabsence. And in true For Shame! fashion, it’s going to come full circle, so read hard.
I recently started rehearsals for a play. A play is something that involves people pretending to be other people usually on a stage in front of other people who aren’t pretending to be anybody. It’s something that humanity used to really appreciate before movies were invented. The play is called An Absolute Turkey. It’s a French farce and the story involves husbands cheating on their wives and the wives coming up with clever ways of getting back at them. I’m playing the prostitute. And yes, fuck you, my character has a name, it’s not just “3rd prostitute from the left,” I’m THE fucking prostitute. Literally. You probably didn’t really care about all of that but the point is: rehearsals are taking up a lot of my time so I’m sorry if I made you feel abandoned. Point deux is: this play was conveniently written by a guy named Georges Feydeau whose fondest hobby, to his detriment and to my extreme pleasure, was extramarital D-wetting.
“HOORAY,” said I, “MY NEXT VICTIM AWAITS!!”
Full Circle. BOOM.
So here’s how the D got gooey:
Jorge was the supposed son of novelist/scholar Ernest-Aime Feydeau and whorebag/society beauty Léocadie Bogaslawa Zalewska. I say “supposed” not because he was supposedly a son, but because Léocadie may or may not have been fucking either or both the Duke of Morny and Napoleon III circa 9 months before Georges’ birth. So ever since his fetal days, the scandal fairies were sprinkling their dust on Feydeau junior.
When Georges separated himself from the womb and grew up into a big boy, he knew we wanted to write for the Theaaaahhhtre. He started writing monologues at age 20 and then, like so many young hopefuls trying to make it in the biz (yes, like me, dear god what am I doing with my life), the kid started to get really poor really fast. Luckily, he snagged himself a pretty little lady named Marianne Corolus-Duran, the daughter of the famous French painter. (Funny tidbit: There is a scene in An Absolute Turkey where some of the characters discuss the uselessness of purchasing fine art when you could just buy a painting by an obscure relative of one of the masters – they’re just as good and a whole lot cheaper. While this is, on the one hand, a commentary on the tight-fistedness of Paris’ bourgeoisie, it’s also probably a dig at his father-in-law. Touchee, Georges, touchee!) And Marianne came with enough cash that Georges could afford to take a couple of years off from writing to learn from his betters and perfect his craft.
And by “his craft” what I mean is he spent a lot of time at Maxim’s (a swank-ass restaurant in Paris, famous for the beautiful women that the owner planted in the window seats to lure men into its loins), drinking, gambling, and getting laid by bitches who were not named Marianne.
He did eventually have a great deal of success in show biz and was able to quit his day job as a law clerk. His most popular play in Paris, The Lady from Maxim’s (bet his wife declined her comped tickets to that one) premiered in 1899 and his most popular play for English audiences, A Flea in Her Ear premiered in 1907. Feydeau enjoyed about 2 decades of extreme popularity in France and all over Western Europe. He is now considered, along with Moliere, to be one of the masters of French farce. His work is also considered to be a precursor to Surrealist Theatre, Dada, and Theatre of the Absurd. BFD. Seriously.
But then in 1909, his wife was like, “Your pepe has, like, green bumps and shit all over it and I don’t think I had anything to do with that. Why don’t you move into that skeez hotel down the way and let’s never talk again.” All alone, except for the company of a few venereal diseases, a gambling problem, and his trusty flask, our man moved into a hotel and lived there, wallowing in self pity, publicly shamed by divorce, until 1917 when he was admitted to a sanatorium. Sanitarium is a word that people use instead of “place for crazy people.” It doesn’t mean “a place where things are very clean,” although there were sanitariums that I hope were clean because they were used as facilities for people with TB. But they didn’t really know what germs were then, so I’m guessing not. I’m telling you this because I think it’s a confusing word and it’s not used anymore. And if you were thinking it was the clean place you’d probably be like, “Well that sounds fucking fabulous, what’s wrong with that?” and then you wouldn’t really be getting the story.
So you’re fucking welcome for the clarification.
Apparently, one of those bitches at Maxim’s was carrying around a little bacteria called spirochete which grows into an infection called syphilis which, when untreated, can scramble your brains like eggs at a good diner.
Georges’ last few plays were a series of dark comedies featuring misogynistic portrayals of overpowering females. Resentful much, Feydeau? Now, I’m not saying it’s funny that he died impoverished and alone, locked in the cold, dark cell of some creepy, Alpine insane asylum all because he was in too big of a hurry to remember how to wrap up his junk before The Lady from Maxim’s mounted him…But I am saying that the picture I have in my head of Feydeau cursing his long-since divorced wife, taking a swig of whiskey, and promptly writing in another horrifying female character into a play is a little bit hilarious. Is that wrong?
Maybe. But you know what’s not wrong? The life lesson that you always get at the end of a for shame! post. Here it is: