The Stoic Comedians by Hugh Kenner

The history that culminates in Flaubert is a history of increasing rigor, increasing control. Flaubert is the novelist who knows very well why he has included every scrap of what he has included, and every syllable. He terminates the evolution of the house of fiction from improvised shelters to enduring brick, set upon foundations of reinforced concrete, each stress and strain calculated. He is the patron saint of the rigid fictional machine; and it would seem, a dead end. For after Flaubert a hundred other Flaubertian novels would differ from one another only in locale, theme, and dialogue. The species is stable.