It was built upon a conical peak of basalt, and was surrounded by four deep valleys, one on each side, another in front, and the fourth in the rear. At the base of the citadel, crowding against one another, a group of houses stood within the circle of a wall, whose outlines undulated with the unevenness of the soil. A zigzag road, cutting through the rocks, joined the city to the fortress, the walls of which were about one hundred and twenty cubits high, having numerous angles and ornamental towers that stood out like jewels in this crown of stone overhanging an abyss. Within the high walls stood a palace, adorned with many richly carved arches, and surrounded by a terrace that on one side of the building spread out below a wide balcony made of sycamore wood, upon which tall poles had been erected to support an awning. One morning, just before sunrise, the tetrarch, Herod-Antipas, came out alone upon the balcony. He leaned against one of the columns and looked about him.

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To those who know the story from the Bible, there is nothing really special or new about this novella save for its perspective: Flaubert wrote the story from the point of view of both Herod-Antipas and Herodias, the tetrarch of Galilee and his wife. There is nothing preachy or religious about this story. It would pass more as a historical fiction than a religious tale. John executed. As with Madame Bovary, Flaubert gives a study of a woman in Herodias who needs to assert her rights and correct the wrong that has been done to her regardless of the consequences.

Flaubert writes a detailed and difficult analysis of the events and characters. The book offers much food for thought. By the weakness of man to resist temptations, to sickly determination of Herodias willing to put in place her daughter in order to achieve her goals. I would not consider the act of Herodias, as has often been done, typically tricky feminine but as the act of a If we think at the Bible as a literary text, we might consider the story of John the Baptist as a story within a story.

I would not consider the act of Herodias, as has often been done, typically tricky feminine but as the act of a human being, ready for anything, to achieve goals. My favorite part was when John the Baptist spoke from the dungeon. His words were so powerful, clear and God-sided, an extreme opposite from the lavishness, gluttony, lustfulness and revenge-driven desires of his executioners.


Gustave Flaubert, Hérodias : résumé

She is very loyal, and easily lends her affections to the two children of her mistress, Mme Aubain. She gives entirely to others; although many take advantage of her, she is unaffected. She has no husband, no children, and no property, and is reliant on her mistress to keep her; she is uneducated; her death is virtually unnoticed. Despite her life being seemingly pointless, she has within her the power to love, which she does even when she does not receive it in return. She also carries within her a yearning, a majestic quasi-religious sensibility which finds its apotheosis in the deification, as she dies, of her pet parrot who floats above her deathbed masquerading as the Holy Ghost.





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