All of the quotations below are from Flaubert to his (proto-feminist) poet-mistress Louise Colet, entirely decontextualized, and gleaned from Francine du Plessix Gray’s Rage and Fire: A Life of Louise Colet, Pioneer Feminist, Literary Star, Flaubert’s Muse. There’s much delightful trivia to be found in the book, including the fact that Victor Hugo initially thought that “Gustave Flaubert” was Louise Colet’s nom de plume!
I love you precisely because there’s very little woman in you, because you have neither their hypocrisy nor their weakness of intellect.
You write verses the way a hen lays eggs.
Don’t you feel everything is currently dissolving into the humid element – tears, chatter, breast-feeding. Contemporary literature is drowning in women’s menses.
I refuse to look on art as a slop pail for our passions, like a chamber pot barely cleaner than a confidence… No, no! Poetry must not be the foam of the heart…
Your second weakness is that vague feminine “tenderomania.” Once arrived to your level of quality, linen cannot smell of milk anymore. So do me a favor… show us your muscles and not your glands.
I’m not made to enjoy life. Happiness is a monstrosity! It punishes all who seek it!
I kiss you on all your lips….I place my finger in a secret place…which is full of your being, and go to sleep on your image, sending you a thousand kisses.
I kiss you everywhere.