Henry James, writing about Gustave Flaubert some time after Flaubert’s death in 1880:
The horror, in particular, that haunted all his years was the horror of the cliché, the stereotyped, the thing usually said and the way it was usually said, the current phrase that passed muster. Nothing, in his view, passed muster but freshness, that which came into the world, with all the honors, for the occasion. To use the ready-made was as disgraceful as for a self-respecting cook to buy a tinned soup or a sauce in a bottle.
From James’ essay “Gustave Flaubert,” republished in Essays in London and Elsewhere (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1893) (see this post by Michael Gilleland).
Hat tip for this quote to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, which informs us that December 12 was Flaubert’s birthday.
Which name does not belong in the following list: 1. Stendhal, 2. Balzac, 3. Flaubert, 4. Proust?
(He then spends the next paragraph explaining why, in his opinion, the correct answer is “3. Flaubert” — i.e., he explains why Flaubert “simply isn’t of the same calibre as the other three great French writers.”)