who managed the patriarchate of hernday. Most Americans are uncomfortablenwith the clashing style that they usuallynassociate with such dialectical analysis.nThe Declaration of Independence assumesna natural equality at the beginningnof society, but it does not posit thatnequality as an end to be pursued at allncosts. Indeed, when our Foundersndeigned to speak of the goals of government,nthe first function that they addressednwas the protection of diverse andnunequal talents for acquiring property.nWe are equals at the origin, and retainnthe rights of natural equality, but,namong free people, differences (i.e.,n”inequalities”) will develop. One cannotn”achieve” equality without abolishingnthe differences that give rise to inequali­nBetween Language &nPsychoanalytical MythsnJean-Paul Sartre: The Family Idiot:nGustave Flaubert 1821-1857; ThenUniversity of Chicago Press; Chicagonby Maura DalynJean-Paul Sartre’s avowed purpose innwriting The Family Idiot was to answerndie perennial question, “what… can wenknow about a man ?” With the creator ofnMadame Bovary as guinea pig, Sartrenproceeds to examine Flaubert’s life inn627 pages of verbose psychoanalytic andnlinguistic mumbo jumbo. Carol Cosman,nthe translator of the American edition,nseeks to excuse this deficiency: “thenwork [The Family Idiot] written in a racenagainst time—and encroaching blindness—[is].n. . barely edited at all.” Onenrecalls Alphonse Daudet, who is reputednto have apologized to his editor: “Sir, Indidn’t have the time to make it short.”nBeyond his serpentine phrases, the verynraison d’etre of Sartre’s opus is shroudednDr. Daly is professor of French literaturenat the University of Notre Dame.nties. Governments that aim at such establishmentsnof equality have proven incapablenof tolerating human liberty.nV/ne can learn from Green andnDuBois, but not the lessons that theynwould prefer to teach. They praise thenidea of equality, but what they reallynmean is leveling—that is, equality onlynin a material sense—as a goal of society.nTheir hostility to those whom they see asncurrent rulers, however, indicates thatntheir deeper passion is revenge. Equalitynwould be established by tearing down,nrather than by building up. The mostnimportant objection to their argumentsnis that such prescriptions are inconsistentnwith any ordered liberty among naturalnequals. Dnin fog. Sartre tells the reader at the beginningnthat his reasons for choosing Flaubertnare personal, stemming originallynfrom an antipathy which later turned tonempathy. He does not, however, specifynwhat these personal reasons were, andnthis seems to be the lost key. Surely it isnno accident that Sartre chose to writenabout Flaubert, the father of modernnFrench literature. Flaubert, like Balzac,nand many 19th- and 20th-century authorsnafter them, used words as thenmedieval alchemist used metals. Theynhoped that with the unceasing sifting ofnsyllables they could discover the philosopher’snstone, that their prose would callninto being, would hold, possess, be, andnnot merely exist as a linguistic representation.nIt is in Flaubert’s work that one seesnfor the first time the desire to makenwords, language and literature into annabsolute. Flaubett was the first modernnwriter to realize the impossibility of thisnquest, although four of his novels—nMadame Bovary, Salammbo, The Temptationnof Saint Anthony and Bouvardnand Pecuchet—implicitly attest to hisnnnfeverish desire to find an absolute innlanguage. It is appropriate that Sartrenpicked Flaubert as his subject since thenlatter’s inability to find that absolutenparallels Sartre’s own unfruitful efforts.nSartre is still loath to relinquish his claimsnfor the transcendence of language; henmust therefore explain Flaubert’s poornrelationship with language, which, accordingnto Sartre’s psychoanalytic analysis,nhas its roots in Gustave’s passivenrelationship with his mother and withnthe rest of his family:nEnnui—this is the malaise. It is thenliving out of nonvalorization. Fromnthis we shall easily understand thatnGustave entered the world of languagenat an oblique angle.nIn his vindication of language, Sartrenconvicts Flaubert: “Litde Gustave’s misfortunenis that something inside preventsnhim from grasping words as simple signs.n. . . Gustave’s naivete, because it persists,nindicates that he could not fullynperform his task; he learns to decode thenmessage, of course, but not to questionnits contents.” Finally, Sartre adds,n”Meaning is not important, it is the verbalnmateriality that fascinates him.” Obviously,nall this seems a bit strong. If thenwork of one of the Occident’s greatestnnovelists is based upon an essential misconceptionnof language, where does thisnleave writers of lesser talent—to saynnothing of mere scriveners?nSartre’s defense of language, however,nis vehement. Once again commentingnon Flaubert’s misunderstanding of language,nhe observes, “He persists in thinkingnthat the spoken word corrodes andncan never completely define.” Later, Sartrenmaintains, “Silence is itself a verbalnact, a hole dug in language and which, asnsuch, can be maintained only as a virtualnnomination whose sense is defined bynthe totality of the work.” For Sartreneverything, even silence, is language andnis defined in terms of language: there isnNo Exit.nJ.his, then, is the key to Sartre’snmassive undertaking. Although then•HMMHI?nOctober 198Sn