The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Flaubert)

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The Temptation of Saint Anthony
The Temptation cover (1895).jpg
The cover of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, an 1895 edition
Author Gustave Flaubert
Original title La Tentation de Saint Antoine
Country France
Language French
Publication date
1874

The Temptation of Saint Anthony (French La Tentation de Saint Antoine) is a book which the French author Gustave Flaubert spent practically his whole life fitfully working on, in three versions he completed in 1849, 1856 (extracts published at the same time) and 1872 before publishing the final version in 1874. It takes as its subject the famous temptation faced by Saint Anthony the Great in the Egyptian desert, a theme often repeated in medieval and modern art.

It is written in the form of a play script. It details one night in the life of Anthony the Great where Anthony is faced with great temptations, and it was inspired by the painting, which he saw at the Balbi Palace in Genoa.

Temptations[edit]

  • Frailty
  • The Seven Deadly Sins
  • The Heresiarchs
  • The Martyrs
  • The Magicians
  • The Gods
  • Science
  • Food
  • Lust and Death
  • The Monsters
  • Metamorphosis

(Hearn, 1-6)

Characters[edit]

The following is a list of major characters and does not include characters such as the gods or the prophets. A complete list of characters can be found in the glossary of the Random House edition (Olds, 195-233).

  • Saint Anthony: The protagonist. He is tempted by many characters and objects to stray from his belief that isolation is the truest form of worship.
  • Ammonaria: One of his sister's friends, Anthony is drawn into a battle between his desire for her and his desire to remain holy before God in his isolation. He is distraught that he cannot control his body.
  • King Nebuchadnezzar
  • The Queen of Sheba: Tempts Anthony with riches, trying to evoke lust.
  • Hilarion: Also known as Lucifer. Once Anthony's student, now he tries to tempt him away from his chosen lifestyle by creating doubt and eventually morphs into Science.
  • Lust and Death: Lust appears as a young woman; Death, an old woman. They try to convince Anthony to give in to his desires and commit suicide.

References[edit]

  • Flaubert, Gustave, and Michel Foucault (introduction), Lafcadio Hearn (tr), and Marshall Olds (glossary). The Temptation of Saint Anthony. New York: Random House, 1992.

External links[edit]