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B by Angus Grundy

Geoffrey Braithwaite to Charles Bovary

Geoffrey Braithwaite writes to Charles Bovary, Emma’s plodding husband from Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857). There are, of course, parallels with the two men’s livelihoods—and their wives’ fates.


My conceit is that Braithwaite (not Julian Barnes) wrote Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), as Barnes hints. In that book, the narrator mentions his children precisely twice, and not by name or even gender. I’ve imagined Braithwaite’s story continuing, without contradicting the original details. Years after the end of the novel, he remains alone, aggrieved and in terminal decline. English to the last, he takes an oblique approach to a difficult note.

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