Bouvard and Pécuchet
- Bouvard and Pécuchet is an unfinished satirical work by Gustave Flaubert, published in 1881 after his death in 1880. Bouvard and Pécuchet details the adventures of two Parisian copy-clerks, François Denys Bartholomée Bouvard and Juste Romain Cyrille Pécuchet, of the same age and nearly identical temperament. They meet one hot summer day in 1838 by the canal Saint-Martin and form an instant, symbiotic friendship. When Bouvard inherits a sizable fortune, the two decide to move to the countryside. They find a 94-acre property near the town of Chavignolles in Normandy, between Caen and Falaise, and 100 miles west of Rouen. Their search for intellectual stimulation leads them, over the course of years, to flounder through almost every branch of knowledge. Flaubert uses their quest to expose the hidden weaknesses of the sciences and arts, as nearly every project Bouvard and Pécuchet set their minds on comes to grief. Their endeavours are interleaved with the story of their deteriorating relations with the local villagers; and the Revolution of 1848 is the occasion for much despondent discussion. The manuscript breaks off near the end of the novel. According to one set of Flaubert's notes, the townsfolk, enraged by Bouvard and Pécuchet's antics, try to force them out of the area, or have them committed. Disgusted with the world in general, Bouvard and Pécuchet ultimately decide to "return to copying as before", giving up their intellectual boundering. The work ends with their eager preparations to construct a two-seated desk on which to write. This was originally intended to be followed by a large sample of what they copy out: possibly a sottisier (anthology of stupid quotations), the Dictionary of Received Ideas (encyclopedia of commonplace notions), or a combination of both.