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Gustave Flaubert’s travel diary may sell for 530,000 pounds

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London: A handwritten manuscript – with scratched out notes, ink blots and comments – belonging to French novelist Gustave Flaubert is expected to fetch at least 530,000 pounds at an auction. The rare book consists of travel notes Flaubert wrote while walking in the Brittany region of France.

Flaubert, who died in 1880 aged 59, is celebrated for his first and most famous published work, Madame Bovary, which took five years to write. “We can see that Flaubert was a man for whom writing was a difficult process; he was perpetually unsatisfied with what he had done, as is clear from all the scratching out and rewriting,” said Benoit Forgeot, an expert from the French auction house Drouot.

“This book is a direct contrast to his letters, where it is rare to find a single error,” Forgeot said. The Flaubert manuscript is among hundreds of original works, first editions and letters to be sold from the private library of businessman Pierre Berge, a long-time partner of the late designer Yves Saint Laurent.


The auction will feature 376 lots dedicated to 19th-century European literature, ‘The Guardian’ reported. Rare works dating from 1780 to 1900 include some by Russian, German, English, Italian and French authors of international renown, many in their original language.

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The 277-page Flaubert travel diary was described as the jewel of the auction. It was written in 1848 when Flaubert and his friend Maxime Du Camp went walking in Brittany and decided to write a joint work: Flaubert the odd-number chapters, Du Camp the even. They were never published in his lifetime.

“A printed book can have a certain coldness, but this handwritten work is a direct physical link to the author. It’s a book that should be touched, smelled, caressed. It is made to be touched,” said Forgeot.