The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Modern Library Classics) by Gustave Flaubert (EPUB)


Ebook Info

  • Published: 2012
  • Number of pages: 290 pages
  • Format: EPUB
  • File Size: 2.04 MB
  • Authors: Gustave Flaubert


A book that deeply influenced the young Freud and was the inspiration for many artists, The Temptation of Saint Anthony was Flaubert’s lifelong work, thirty years in the making. Based on the story of the third-century saint who lived on an isolated mountaintop in the Egyptian desert, it is a fantastical rendering of one night during which Anthony is besieged by carnal temptations and philosophical doubt. This Modern Library Paperback Classic reproduces the distinguished Lafcadio Hearn translation, which translator Richard Sieburth calls “a splendid period piece from one of America’s premier translators of nineteenth-century French prose. In Lafcadio Hearn’s Latinate rendering, Flaubert’s experimental drama of the modern consciousness reads as weirdly as its oneiric original.”

User’s Reviews

Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:

⭐I am a big fan of the work itself, but wanted to throw in a recommendation for the Penguin Classics edition. By all means, avoid the Kindle translation, as it is crazy bad. Certain passages read strangely while a majority of them are just wrong. I’m no scholar; I just bought both versions and it’s remarkable how much better the Penguin Classics edition is. This is a shame, but as the kindle is very convenient. However, the poetry and energy of Flaubert’s writing comes through much better in the other translations. Trust me; you’ll be glad you paid more for the print copy.

⭐This one is not for the faint of heart. In his letters to George Sand, Flaubert writes of spending much time in Paris, researching for this book. It’s easy to see why. Poor old St. Anthony is tortured by every deity in the known universe. I spent a lot of time looking up names and places, but I learned so much I never knew about ancient world religions. The descriptions of the visitations and temptations are so vivid, they read like a classical oil painting. Delicious, but difficult.

⭐SALAMMBO was declared unreadable by Cyril Connolly, but I think TENTATION has it beat by a long shot.The fruit of Flaubert’s early romantic obsession and, even more clearly, his masochistic side, I don’t see how any English reader could take this seriously as literature, though as a self-revealing document it’s interesting.I wonder why Penguin decided to publish this translation by a woman with a Russian name (don’t have the text in front of me, her first name is Kitty) instead of at least assigning the job to Baldick, Tannock, Kreilewhatshisname, their regular cadre of French translators. I expect they thought it wasn’t worth the cost when Kitty had already done the job and the book would only appeal to Flaubert completists.

⭐Look at the gorgeous cover read the end notes then read the Bible

⭐Absolutely amazing. Nothing else like this out there.

⭐Exquisite version. Gorgeous illustrations.

⭐The startling thing about Flaubert’s rendering of “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” is Flaubert’s depiction of the thresholds of temptation. After Saint Anthony had effectively withstood the wiles of the beautiful women who had come out to his desert hermitage to seduce him, he had to deal with the temptresses of antiquity. Night after night in his dreams, day after day in his prayers and meditations, Anthony was enticed and tormented by a seemingly endless parade of seductresses through the ages from lowly harem girls to the most sought-after mistresses and queens (ending with the woman who had beguiled King Solomon himself, the Queen of Sheba). The fact that these temptations were not material in a physical sense made no difference. They had to be resisted and overcome if Saint Anthony was not to capitulate.While there are those that would have us believe that experiences like Saint Anthony’s are mythical and hence not “real”, there is no man or woman alive or dead today that hasn’t had to fight an analogous battle. We simply do not recognize it as such because we see everything in the here and now. But get beyond the first round of temptations in your city or town, your school or workplace, Hollywood, the media, advertising and your own past, and you will discover band after band of increasing sophistication and antiquity. The first sign will be dream content with no direct relationship to your life: people you have never met, places you have never visited, epochs and cultures that you are entirely unfamiliar with. You are now in “Double Jeopardy.”Given the moment-by-moment onslaught of the adversary and the weakness of the flesh, it is understandable that we should fail to live up to the high standard that Christ and the Saints have set. According to Saint Paul, the only safe place for a man or woman of God who lusts after the flesh is in a Christian marriage:”Now for the matters you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as command.” (NIV: 1 Cor. 1-6)Even in marriage, the struggle to resist temptations of various kinds is never over. It’s just that married we stand a better chance.For those who take Saint Anthony’s experience as testimony to guide them in their own struggles to resist temptation, there are three things to be mindful of. One is that the field of battle stretches into the past and may include the stuff of antiquity. Any cessation of activity is no indication that the war is over. There is another battle forming and the armaments and the tactics will be different this time.The second thing has its good side. And that is that all of us are living in an eternal present where past and future are much more than prologue and postscript. There is no soul anywhere that has ever been (properly speaking, there is no death) that does not affect its agency somewhere in the cosmos at this very moment even if it happens to be in Hell. Satan lives but so does Christ.The final thing to remember is that if we “put on the armor of the Lord” and live our lives according to the precepts handed down by Moses and given elucidation and development by the perfect example of Jesus Christ, victory is assured. All we have to do is keep the faith.The great tragedy is that most people will continue to regard Flaubert’s “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” as a work of fiction and not a guide book. Because the only major difference between us and Saint Anthony is that Saint Anthony was able to hold out until the very end and bring the entire war into full consciousness. Most of us will succumb in one of the early skirmishes and spend the rest of our lives steadfastly denying there was ever a battle to begin with.For more on the “eternal present”, see Thomas Merton’s “When Israel came out of Egypt.” Bread In The Wilderness. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press / Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986. 108-120.

⭐This is Flaubert’s favourite novel, started in 1848 and reworked over many years. It is a sort of novel/play/poem where the real hermit St Antony around 350CE has visions tempting him away.So Antony experiences a whole host of mental challenges as a series of episodes of varying length including food, money, famous people, the flesh, Sheba, religious sects, Helen of Troy, idols, Budda, Greek gods, science. The interactions are very erudite and certainly not graphic or explicit like Dante’s Inferno. These really are dialogue or even just thought challenges – Antony doesn’t really interact too much other than to dismiss the threat. It is clear Flaubert knew his stuff in developing all the historical, philosophical and religious progressions. Lots of sects get a mention such as the Adamites, Marcionians, Nicolaitans, Paternians, Archonites etc – doubtless all believing in God as much as St Antony but these being ‘temptations’If you’ve read his unfinished Bouard and Picuchet, which is an excellent book and I likened to a cross between an 1880s encyclopaedia and Don Quixote, St Antony is a cross between Dante’s Inferno and an 1880s history of world philosophy & religion. You can tell because the book is double the pages due to the introduction, notes to the introduction, text notes and abbreviations.The style is entertaining and different but I suppose I was expecting a bit more passion from St Antony – he is never in any peril of being seduced by the dark side.So quotes:“My clothes need only fall away for you to discover in my person one continuous mystery”“Your chastity is only one more corruption”“And yet the angel of the annunciation appears in Matthew to Joseph, whereas in Luke it’s Mary. The anointing of Jesus by a woman happens according to the first gospel at the beginning of his public ministry, but according to the three others only a few days before his death. The drink offered to him on the cross is in Matthew wine with gall, in Mark wine with myrrh. According to Luke and Matthew, the apostles must take neither money nor packs, not even sandals or a stick; in Mark, on the contrary, Jesus forbids them to carry anything except for sandals and a stick. I’m lost!”Not as good as Bouard and Picuchet but for it’s uniqueness 4 stars.


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