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St. Antonios (251–356) was the "Father of Monasticism" who organized his disciples into a worshipful community and inspired similar communities throughout Egypt 2 centuries before Benedictus Nursia established his monastic rule. As a boy Gustave Flaubert witnessed a marionette performance of “The Mystery of St. Anthony” and in 1845, at 24, he was overwhelmed by a 16th-century painting, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder or 1 of his students, in the Palazzo Stefano Balbi in Genova. From that point on, “St. Anthony accompanied Flaubert for twenty-five or thirty years,” according to Michel Foucault. In 1849 Flaubert completed "La Tentation de Saint Antoine." Over the course of 4 days he read it to his friends Louis Bouilhet and Maxime Du Camp but would not allow them to interrupt him or express their opinions about it; unimpressed, they advised him to set it on fire. He rewrote it in 1856 and published some extracts, and finally completed a version, written in the form of a script, in 1872. Foucault called the final novel an “overcrowded bestiary” with “creatures of unnatural issue” and described Anthony’s temptations as “false gods resembling the true God.”
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