Flaubert's Parrot at 40

by Carrie Frye

'The Green Parrot' by Vincent van Gogh (1886), depicting a stuffed parrot of colorful and jaunty aspect
Public domaiin via Wikimedia Commons

Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes turns 40 this year, and in honor of the occasion let’s imagine a pitch meeting for the novel happening today: “So a retired British doctor and widower named Geoffrey Braithwaite is absolutely nuts about Gustave Flaubert, and he travels around the city of Rouen investigating which of two stuffed parrots might have served as the model for a parrot that appears in one of Flaubert’s short stories.”

“Huh. So what kind of stakes are we talking? Is there, you know, treasure hidden in one of the stuffed parrots?”


“Is there maybe another Flaubert nut who’s also trying to figure out which stuffed parrot is the right one and whom Braithwaite has to beat in a race against time?”


“OK, are there any tense, charged situations in the book?”

“Well… there’s a lunch where one guy silently fumes at another guy.”

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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