An excerpt from Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
"Gustave taught Caroline about literature. I quote her: "He considered no book dangerous that was well written." Move forward seventy years or so to a different household in another part of France. This time there is a bookish boy, a mother, and a friend of the mother’s called Mme Picard. The boy later wrote his memoirs; again, I quote: "Mme Picard’s opinion was that a child should be allowed to read everything. "No book can be dangerous if it is well written." The boy, aware of Mme Picard’s frequently expressed view, deliberately exploits her presence and asks his mother’s permission to read a particular and notorious novel. "But if my little darling reads books like that at his age," says the mother, "what will he do when he grows up?" "I shall live them out!" he replies. It was one of the cleverest retorts of his childhood; it went down in family history, and it won him—or so we are left to assume—readership of the novel. The boy was Jean-Paul Sartre. The book was Madame Bovary."