Bouvard and Pécuchet by s.manghani

An unexpected inheritance and an obsessive pursuit of knowledge: Enter 'Bouvard and Pécuchet', a text adventure* rendering of Gustave Flaubert's final novel, left incomplete upon his death in 1880.

In this online facsimile, you take the role of either Bouvard or Pécuchet, the two fabled, Chaplinesque copy-clerks who, meeting accidentally upon a bench one stifling day in Paris, lead us through a comic exploration of the world of ideas and human nature (and includes a copy of the 'Dictionary of Accepted Ideas').

Flaubert's novel - a kind of encyclopaedia as farce - challenged the novel's realist tradition of the time, paving the way for the later, modernist interventions of Kafka, Joyce, and Beckett. In this text adventure version a further decentering of the novel comes into play through a 'spatial', non-linear reading, and a deliberate mixing of gender.

* While 'Bouvard and Pécuchet' adopts the computer-based genre and formatting of text adventures (that peaked in interest in the 1980s), the notion of ‘adventure’ here is that of an uncertain undertaking, or exploration: It is an adventure of/through a dedicated text rather than merely a text-based adventure. The purpose is not a game but an open reading...

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Written for Quest 5.8
Added 19 May 2020
Updated 11 Jul 2020