(urth) Flaubert's _The Temptation of Saint Anthony_ as influence on _New Sun_?

Darth Ed darthed77 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 15 20:29:54 PDT 2013

My Wolfe reading group has been re-reading _The Book of the New Sun_ lately. For about half the group, this is our third or fourth time reading it. For the remainder, it is our second time.

One of our members remarked that he had recently read Gustave Flaubert's _The Temptation of Saint Anthony_ [*] and he was struck by how many words from _New Sun_'s antiquated vocabulary were used in _The Temptation of Saint Anthony_.


He listed a half dozen examples, which I can't recall at the moment, but it was a very convincing list. We all thought it was very possible that this novel may have had a profound influence on Wolfe in his writing of _The Book of the New Sun_. The subject matter is certainly something that Wolfe might have been interested in following his conversion to Catholicism. I thought surely someone must have made this connection previously, but my searches of the urth.net mailing list, WolfeWiki.com, and the web at large revealed no discussion that I could locate of any connection between Wolfe and Flaubert's _The Temptation of Saint Anthony_, except for *one* academic book on Google Books:


The author of the essay rather matter-of-factly states, right after quoting a passage from Gustave Flaubert's _The Temptation of Saint Anthony_:

"Gene Wolfe's _Book of the New Sun_ obviously derived in equal part from the _Temptation_ and Borges's _Book of Imaginary Beings_ (which itself contains many excerpts from the former source)."

Sadly, the next page in that book is not visible on Google Books. A member of our group purchased the book from Google Books to check, and the Wolfe discussion pretty much ends with that sentence. Fortunately, Google Books has a convenient return policy. :-)

Has anyone here read Flaubert's _The Temptation of Saint Anthony_ and would care to comment?

Has Wolfe made any comments concerning Flaubert or _The Temptation of Saint Anthony_ in any interviews?

Obviously, Borges' work has long been recognized as an influence on Wolfe and _New Sun_. Is this possible Flaubert connection relatively untrodden territory? Or is this something generally known and my Google searches just didn't turn up much discussion of it?



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