(1821-1880) was the son of a French surgeon. He studied law in Paris but soon returned to his hometown (Croisset, near Rouen) to devote his life to writing.
He is the author of the immortal Madame Bovary (1856), a novel about the loves and frustrations of a romantic woman married to a provincial dullard. The book was criticized for immorality and prosecuted, but Flaubert won the case. Of the extremely well-realized heroine, he once remarked, "I am her." The novel is one of the greatest explorations of a female character by a male writer, in all of literature. Among Flaubert's other notable works are Salammbo (1863), a historical romance of ancient Carthage which influenced Robert E. Howard (the author of the Conan series), and The Temptation of Saint Anthony, which was translated into vivid, almost hallucinogenic English prose by Lafcadio Hearn.
Flaubert also wrote plays, short stories, and the long satire Bouvard and Pecuchet. His life was outwardly uneventful, but full. He was heavily influenced by several women, including his mother, a mistress, and a woman ten years his senior with whom he fell in love as a young man. He travelled to North Africa and the Middle East in 1851. He received honors from the emperor Napoleon III. Among his friends and associates were Emile Zola, George Sand, and the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev.
His work is characterized by criticism of small-town bourgois values, a curious tendency to romanticism, a fondness for the exotic, and a dedication to the then rising Realist movement, with its dedication to depicting life as it is, without judgment.