Flaubert: Writing the Masculine offers a new approach to Flaubert's major writing and to gender studies as a whole. Through a combination of close reading with a knowledge of current gender studies and particular attention to the sociohistorical and legal contexts of nineteenth-century France, it examines the masculine in the six very different literary contexts which are Flaubert's fictions. His characters, male and female, are reassessed for their masculinity: Baudelaire's famous view of Emma Bovary as 'masculine', like other critical idees recues which have propped up a canonical Flaubert, finds a new interpretation within the wider discussion of the book, as does the term 'masculine' itself. While it is mostly Flaubert's men, both those who conform to patriarchy's models and the non-conformists, who offer new insights into masculine identities in crisis, the structures of society that endorse male statusDSlegal, social, institutional, and literary-criticalDSalso come under scrutiny.
The book challenges the primacy of gendered terms over sex, and provides various methodological resources to further scholarship in French Studies, Gender Studies, and masculinities theory, arguing strongly for the adroitness of literature to formulate representations which are as relevant today as in Flaubert's time.