Bouvard and Pécuchet

 Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pecuchet (Bouvard et Pécuchet ): This satirical 1881 novel follows the adventures of two inept Parisian clerks who retire to the country to pursue knowledge. They stumble through one field after another, failing spectacularly at them all: agriculture, gardening, medecine, architecture, etc. Their almost insane pursuit of personal reinvention through a series of professional identities marks this as a precursor of fictive art 'impersonation' projects.