I’m rereading Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant, a book which is brilliant in its lateral connections, arguing amongst other things that the Industrial Revolution in England goes hand in hand with the legal use of opium as recreational drug.
Speaking of opium, I’ve published a photo of an oozing, exuding, secreting and leaking poppy seed head.
But that’s not what I wanted to show you.
On page 47 in Writing on Drugs is Flaubert and he is cited stating his desire to write ‘a book about nothing‘ (‘un livre sur rien’), in other words a plotless novel, an antinovel as it were.
“What strikes me as beautiful, what I would like to do, is a book about nothing, a book with no external tie, which would support itself by its internal force of style, a book which would have hardly any subject or at least where the subject would be almost invisible, if that can be so.” (Flaubert, Letters 170).
Did Flaubert fulfil his ambition?
Maybe he did. The closest he came to writing about nothing was in his Bouvard et Pécuchet and Dictionary of Received Ideas.