Tag Archives: Flaubert

Another Example of the Wonderful Past

Last night I was reading Madame Bovary and found another example of the cultural phenomenon I described in The Wonderful Past, which is the tendency to compare the present to superior days: “[Canivet] belonged to that great surgical school created Bichat – that generation, now vanished, of philosopher-practitioners, who cherished their art with fanatical love and applied it with enthusiasm and sagacity.” This might be intended ironically because Canivet doesn’t actually help and the incompetent Homais deifies him, which tells you how long the idea of a lost past has been around and how long people have been mocking the idea. Regardless, it’s the same general idea you can invoke in needs assessments.