This introductory chapter sets out the purpose of the book, which is to explore the subtle and complex representations of the masculine, revealed in the imaginary rather than the documentary or epistolary realm, in Flaubert's published novels and short stories. Weight is given to the real historical and cultural world of Flaubert's times, which informs explicitly and implicitly the characterization, settings, and themes of the fictional landscapes that constitute ‘the masculine’. Flaubert's works are discussed and an overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.
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