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Detail from The Battle of San Romano, c1438-1440, by Paolo Uccello

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On opening a Penguin copy of Flaubert’s Bouvard and Pecuchet [1978] that’s been unopened on my shelves for years, opened today as I am near finishing Sentimental Education and speculating on what next to read.

On the title page this inscription:

To … The Marx Bros. films & this book are all I need to survive in this stupid, humorless world…and sex, yes, I can’t forget sex. I hope you like it. The book that is, not sex. Well I hope you like sex too, for that matter. Enough of this. I really must be going…Hello, Hello, Hello! Love …

All capitals by the way. Inside a bookmark inserted at p.49. This advertises a New York bookstore Bookshelfwe sell new and used paperbacks. Address for any American readers out there: 135 Windsor Place, Brooklyn, NY 11215.

I don’t remember if I bought this book in New York – which would have been 2000 – or in the UK. Spelling of humorless suggests inscriber was American. Either way, this Flaubert has well travelled since 1978.

By John Pitt

Artist and Creative

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