Flaubert’s Cailloux: Hard Labour and the Beauty of Stones

  • Patrick M. Bray
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Gustave Flaubert famously referred to himself as a ‘casseur de cailloux’ [common stonebreaker], intriguing future literary critics, who tend to think of him as the hardest-working chiseller of sentences. This contrast between mental labour and physical labour belies other connections that help us understand how Flaubert’s text relates to corporeality, labour, politics, and aesthetics. Flaubert’s ‘cailloux’, or stones, especially in Bouvard et Pécuchet, mediate between the materiality of ink on the page and the abstract meaning of words, resulting in a text that is both ‘pulverized’ and transcendent.


Aesthetics Corporeality Gustave Courbet Gustave Flaubert Jacques Rancière Labour Roland Barthes Stone 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick M. Bray
    • 1
  1. 1.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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