What is the book Herodias by Flaubert about? I read the book about a month ago and i completely forgot what its about. i tried looking up a summary on the net but i cant find one. any help would be very much appreciated.
Massenet – Herodiade sheet music is available online.
Well, you can read it at the first link below.In the eastern side of the Dead Sea rose the citadel of Machaerus. It was built upon a conical peak of basalt, and was surrounded by four deep valleys, one on each side, another in front, and the fourth in the rear. At the base of the citadel, crowding against one another, a group of houses stood within the circle of a wall, whose outlines undulated with the unevenness of the soil.Flaubert takes us back in time with this biblical tale about the beheading of John the Baptist and the circumstances that led to it. It introduces us to Herod I, the King of Judea, Salome who acts under her mother’s behest, and John who loses his life for his principles. The tale deals with human emotions and also offers commentary on the moral, social and political scenarios of that age.”Then there’s this at the 2nd link”Flaubert’s Story HérodiasHaving discussed the biblical stories, I will now turn to another story, which, as we will see, clearly served as a source of inspiration for the libretto of Massenet’s opera Hérodiade, more specifically Flaubert’s tale Hérodias. Flaubert wrote this story in the Winter of 1876-1877. It was published together with two other stories in one volume entitled Three Tales  just a couple of months later. I will first give a summary of its plot and then analyse the role Herodias and Salome play in this story.The Story According to FlaubertThe story itself consists of three acts, which are all three located in the citadel of Machaerus, the residence of Herod and Herodias. In the first act we find Herod waiting for the Governor of Syria, Vitellius, to come. Vitellius is supposed to help him against an attack of the Arabs. Herod has invited the commanders of his troops, the stewards of his estates, and the chief men of Galilee to a banquet taking place the same night on the pretext of celebrating his birthday. When a voice is heard Herod summons Mannaëi, his executer and inquires after Jokanaan.  Mannaëi tells him that Jokanaan had exchanged mysterious words with two visitors and that the two had left for Upper Galilee, announcing they would return with great tidings. Herod insists that Mannaëi should watch Jokanaan and make sure nobody suspects he is still alive. Then Herodias enters the scene. She has come to see Herod and tells him triumphantly that her brother Agrippa is imprisoned, something she arranged in order to get him out of their way. She reminds Herod that she even left her daughter behind in Rome to follow him. Suddenly Phanuel appears, an Essene, who according to Herodias has come to see Jokanaan. This makes her furious. She recalls how on her way to Gilead for the balsam harvest, Jokanaan had insulted her with the curses of the prophets. It is not clear to her why he is fighting her, but she is afraid Herod might repudiate her and then everything would be lost, because she married him to make her dream of a great empire come true. While she fulminates against Herod, he notices a young girl on the flat roof of a house. He catches ‘a glimpse of her delicate neck, the corner of an eye, the curve of a little mouth. But he could see the whole of her figure, from the hips to the neck, bending and straightening with supple grace. He looked out for the repetition of this movement, and his breathing grew louder; flames kindled in his eyes. Herodias was watching him’.  He asks her who this girl is, but Herodias claims she doesn’t know and goes away. Herod returns inside and meets Phanuel, who tells Herod that Jokanaan is a son of the Almighty. He warns Herod not to ill-treat him and urges to release him. Herod admits that, despite himself, he likes Jokanaan. Nevertheless, he does not want to set him free out of fear of Herodias, Mannaëi, and the unknown.In the second act the Proconsul Lucius Vitellius arrives at the citadel with his troops and his son Aulus. Vitellius notices that the place looks busy and Herod tells him about the banquet taking place on occasion of his birthday. Aulus notices a cellar, and his father insists to see the underground rooms of the fortress. On their way out one of Vitellius’ men notices a covered cistern, unlike the others, and inquires what is in it. Herod tells him a prisoner is kept there, and Vitellius insists on seeing him. When Mannaëi lifts up the cover, a sigh is heard and Herodias comes to see. It is Jokanaan, who raises his voice and starts cursing. Then Jokanaan notices Herodias and calling her Jezebel, he starts fulminating against her, announcing that there should not be enough pebbles to stone the adulteress. The cistern is closed again and Herodias disappears. When Vitellius hears that Jokanaan instigates the people not to pay their taxes, he is alarmed and orders sentries posted at the doors. Herod feels relieved that the fate of Jokanaan is no longer in his own hands. Then he runs into Phanuel who discloses that the constellation of the stars has made clear to him that this same night an important man would die. Fearing that he is the one in question, Herod seeks the support of Herodias, who tries to reassure him. Then he notices a bare arm emerging from under a curtain groping for a tunic left behind. ‘A vague memory, which he could not quite place, crossed the Tetrarch’s mind. “Is that slave yours?” “What does that matter to you?” answered Herodias’. The third act is played out in the banqueting-hall, where the guests have gathered. One of the topics being discussed at the tables is Jokanaan and people like him. A certain Jesus is mentioned. Someone says he is the Messiah. When the objection is made that first Elias has to come, someone answers that Elias has come in the person of Jokanaan. The reactions are mixed. Suddenly Herodias appears all dressed up. ‘But then there arose from the far end of the hall a hum of surprise and admiration. A girl had just come in. Going up on to the dais, she removed her veil. It was Herodias as she used to be in her youth. Then she began to dance’.  The girl is Herodias’ daughter, Salome, whom she had instructed far away from Machaerus. Caught by desire, Herod calls the girl and promises her half of his kingdom. She does not say a word but goes upstairs, reappears and tells Herod she wants the head of Jokanaan on a platter. Herod looks terrified but he is bound by his own word and the people wait for his reaction. Mannaeï comes back with the head. After he has put it on a platter, he gives it to Salome. She takes it upstairs. The head is brought back and shown first to the rest of the company, then to Herod. The guests leave. The only ones left in the room are Herod who sits and gazes at the head while Phanuel prays with his arms wide open. When morning breaks the two men who were sent out by Jokanaan come back. Phanuel shows them the head on the platter. One of the men tells him to take heart. Jokanaan has gone down to the dead to proclaim the coming of Christ. The three of them leave again for Galilee, carrying the head with them.Herodias and Salome According to FlaubertIn general it can be noted that Flaubert’s presentation of the characters stays relatively close to the biblical text. Major additions concern Herodias’ political ambition and the new characters of Vitellius and Phanuel. Herodias’ daughter is now called Salome and she appears to be older than the girl of the gospel stories. It is not clear how old she is, but she certainly is no child anymore, but an attractive young woman, a virgin, seemingly irresistible for the male spectators: ‘And the nomads inured to abstinence, the Roman soldiers skilled in debauchery, the avaricious publicans, and the old priests soured by controversy, all sat there with their nostrils distended, quivering with desire’. Both Herodias and Salome show up in each of the three parts of the story. Herodias is most prominently present. She is characterized as a politically ambitious woman, who has left her first husband and daughter because Herod could offer her better prospects to realize her plans. She has the air of an empress.  She is furious with Jokanaan, fearing his influence on Herod, and feeling humiliated. Therefore she seeks revenge. Manipulating Herod through her daughter, she attains her goal: Jokanaan’s death. The identity of the mysterious girl introduced at the end of the first scene and her relation with Herodias, are only revealed in the third scene. There she appears as the extension of her mother: ‘It was Herodias as she used to be in her youth’.  She is presented as a young woman no longer a girl though she speaks with ‘a childish air’  when she asks for the head of John on a platter.