Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Three Tales consists of three short stories: “Un Cur simple” (“A Simple Heart”), “La Légende de Saint Julien l’Hospitalier” (“The Legend of St. Julian, Hospitaler”), and “Hérodias” (“Herodias”). Taken together, these three stories reflect Flaubert’s thematic concerns and artistic style. “A Simple Heart” tells the story of Félicité, a simpleminded and religious family servant. Set in contemporary, provincial France, this short story became an exercise in realism and narrative style. “The Legend of St. Julian, Hospitaler” reactivates Flaubert’s interest in historical settings and the lives of saints (with a fantastic twist), while “Herodias” shares some of these features (the historical setting) while also incorporating the themes of exoticism and the femme fatale, a theme frequently explored by nineteenth century writers through the story of Salomé, which enjoyed a particular vogue in literature and painting at the turn of the century. Despite these different settings and themes, the three stories present a certain unity through recurrent motifs and patterns.
Stylistically, these stories reveal Flaubert’s mature writing skills, and the minimal use of dialogue gives Flaubert ample room to develop his narrative techniques. Félicité, whose name ironically means “felicity” or “happiness,” is shown through a third-person narrator whose voice blends imperceptibly into a more articulate version...
(The entire section is 1243 words.)
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