Flaubert's Destiny: Freedom and Alienation in L'Idiot de la famille

Marieke Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As an attempt to formulate epistemological boundaries, for which Gustave Flaubert becomes a test-case, L'Idiot de la famille can be seen simultaneously as the exemplification of a method and as a re-assertion and further development of Sartre's theory of subjectivity. This article proposes to approach the issue of Sartre's notion of human subjectivity in L'Idiot from the particular angle of the idea of “destiny.” It will be argued that the term “ destin ” provides a focal point for multiple visions of subjectivity as it contains at least three layers of meaning: firstly, Sartre's representation of Flaubert's idea of his life as predetermined destiny; secondly, Sartre's analysis of destiny as a situation created by others; and finally, an understanding of destiny which is close to the notion of the project. It will be argued that precisely the mutual interdependence of these terms is an expression of Sartre's conception of alienation and the possibility of freedom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalSartre Studies International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2014


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