Rest assured, Gustave Flaubert also made mistakes… when traveling in the “Pyrenees”

From “n”, an “i”, an “e”? Pupils who have stumbled over the spelling of “Pyrenees” can be reassured: Gustav Flaubert himself made a mistake in this proper name, as revealed by the manuscript of early works reissued on Thursday. “Pyrenees and Corsica” is one of the four texts of the famous writer’s “Tales of Youth” brought together by Folio Classique.

Page 236, surprise on discovering the facsimile of the title page of the original manuscript: the author of “Madame Bovary” writes “Pyrennées & Corse”, with two n.

This travelogue, unknown during the author’s lifetime, has already appeared under various names: “Pyrenees” and “Corsica” have been separated, or they have been combined under the titles “Voyage dans les Pyrénées et en Corse” and ” Pyrenees-Corsica”.

“Even the title chosen by Flaubert is misleading since in truth he visits the whole of the South of France, from Bordeaux to Bastia via Carcassonne and Toulon”, slice Jacques Letertre, the owner of the manuscript, questioned by AFP.

A manuscript at 53,000 euros

The journey lasts a little over two months, from August 22 to November 1, 1840, to reward the 18-year-old young man for having obtained the baccalaureate.

Jacques Letertre is a bibliophile who acquired this manuscript in December 2021, for nearly 53,000 euros, during the dispersal of the collections of Aristophil, a manuscript investment company which had gone bankrupt in 2016. Aristophil had acquired it in 2004 in Germany, country where the manuscript had left during the liquidation in 1931 of the inheritance of the niece of the novelist, Caroline Hamard.

This travelogue was first published among the complete works in 1910. The publisher at the time, Louis Conard, had worked from the manuscript loaned by the rights holder. We did not know, for many decades, if “Pyrenees & Corsica” had survived the Second World War intact.

“In posthumous editions at the time, there was not the same fierce attention to the letter of the manuscript as today. Most of Flaubert was published after his death. He was therefore unable to proofread and there were errors,” explains Jacques Letertre.

An academic specialist in Flaubert, Yvan Leclerc, has completely revised the text, as well as that of “November”, thanks to the manuscript acquired in November 2022 by the metropolis of Rouen, the author’s birthplace, for 143,000 euros.

Flaubert began writing at an early age, including stories now considered indicative of his mastery as a novelist, “Memoirs of a Madman” in 1838 and “November” in 1842. But he published nothing until the success of “Madame Bovary”, at the age of 45, in 1857. He died in 1880 with essentially three novels to his credit.

source site