Statements of Faith(s)
The concluding chapter of Part One as Flaubert's fantastical examination of the ‘history of nineteenth‐century French religion(s)’ by analogy turns to the famous ‘tableau of the heresies’. Seznec first coined this designation in erudite essays published in the 1940s on Flaubert's sources in this tableau. No critic since has challenged Seznec's work, until now. Thanks to Hilarion's departure, Antoine's visions in this tableau are shown to offer the reader a ‘literal’ picture of the universal ‘church’, compartmentalised into Gnostic churches of many hues, all seeking true ‘knowledge’ (gnosis) and all with their angles on visionary experience. By re-reading Seznec and remapping the holy in the land of new religions (4th‐century Egypt and 19th‐century France), this chapter argues that Flaubert is re‐examining the Illuminist/Enlightenment sects and their leaders in his own times as comparable to the ‘heresiarchs’ and Gnostic churches of the time of Saint Anthony the Great.
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