1. Did Flaubert foresee Google Earth?

    Posted January 2, 2013 in ephemera  |  No Comments so far

    In Gustave Flaubert’s Un Coeur Simple (1877), Félicité’s nephew Victor has travelled to Havana. An uneducated and illiterate domestic servant, Félicité doesn’t know where Havana is and can’t form a mental picture of her nephew’s whereabouts, so she asks the solicitor Bourais to show her on a map.

    He reached for his atlas… picked up his pencil and pointed to an almost invisible black dot in one of the little indentations in the contour of an oval-shaped patch on the map. ‘Here it is,’ he said. Félicité peered closely at the map. The network of coloured lines was a strain on her eyes, but it told her nothing. Bourais asked her what was puzzling her and she asked him if he could show her the house in which Victor was living. Bourais raised his arms in the air, sneezed and roared with laughter, delighted to come across someone so simple-minded.

    Poor Félicité: she wasn’t simple-minded, she was just ahead of her time. If Bourais had a laptop running Google Earth her request would have been perfectly reasonable.

    Havana on Google Maps Satellite view