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: 'In his letters Gustave never speaks to me of anything except art - or himself.'. This was one of the many complaints of Flaubert's lover, Louise Colet. A rigorous champion of impersonality in art, in his letters Flaubert created a vivid portrait of the artist. Witty, scornful, exuberant, these letters bring to life, sometimes day by day, his tormenting passion for Louise Colet, his erotic adventures in the Orient, his literary friendships with Hugo, Baudelaire and Zola, as well as his intimate dialogue des troubadours with the romantic feminist George Sand. Flaubert's descriptions - of the bourgeois and the bohemian, the revolution of 1848 and the Paris Commune - resonate with the curious, aloof perspective of the artist. In the course of this remarkable correspondence about 'art - or himself', Flaubert explores the process of writing, and chronicles the heroic effort that triumphed in the creation of Madame Bovary.