Introduction

Bénédicte Percheron

Flaubert’s taste for history seems to have developed at the Collège royal de Rouen through contact with the historian Adolphe Chéruel, but also with the naturalist Félix-Archimède Pouchet, director of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Rouen (1828-1872), who may have aroused the writer’s interest for ancient and medieval history with his lectures on zoology. The naturalist gave great importance to the history of animals in his teaching, as attested by his archives still kept at the Rouen Museum and his work Zoologie classique ou histoire naturelle du règne animal (1841). The different versions of The Temptation of Saint Anthony (La Tentation de Saint Antoine, 1849, 1856 et 1874) all share a taste for mythological zoology.

The changes between the first two texts and the last one seem to have been prompted by Flaubert’s discovery of recent works, in particular La Création by the historian Edgar Quinet, who, like Michelet, was interested in the natural sciences, as well as the works of biologist Ernst Haeckel. On the other hand, Flaubert did not read the Histoire naturelle de la création des êtres organisés d’après les lois naturelles until 1874. However, it seems that by the end of 1871 he had read an article by Charles Martins in La Revue des deux mondes presenting the work of the German naturalist. Quinet and Haeckel’s research was based on a fundamental notion: evolution.

We have provided below several excerpts from The Temptation of Saint Anthony, which are presented in the context of scientific works and concepts that may have influenced the book’s rewriting. In the main, the texts in question are by Pouchet, Quinet and lastly Haeckel (by way of an initial translation produced by Charles Martins).



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biolog (2018, 19 novembre). Introduction. Biolographes. Consulté le 22 avril 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/m1r1

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