Hot Best Seller

Madame Bovary (Independent Banned Books series #7) PDF, ePub eBook

4.6 out of 5
30 review

Madame Bovary (Independent Banned Books series #7)

Availability: Ready to download

File Name: Madame Bovary (Independent Banned Books series #7) .pdf

How it works:

1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.

2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use)

3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.


Madame Bovary (Independent Banned Books series #7) PDF, ePub eBook 'Oh, why, dear God, did I marry him?' Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment, 'Oh, why, dear God, did I marry him?' Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment, and when real life continues to fail to live up to her romantic expectations, the consequences are devastating. Flaubert's erotically charged and psychologically acute portrayal of Emma Bovary caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857. It was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for his heroine; but Flaubert insisted: 'Madame Bovary, c'est moi.' This modern translation by Flaubert's biographer, Geoffrey Wall, retains all the delicacy and precision of the French original. The edition also contains a preface by the novelist Michèle Roberts.

30 review for Madame Bovary (Independent Banned Books series #7)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Oh, Emma. Emma, Emma, Emma. Darling, why must you make it so easy ? No, dear, (for once) I don’t mean for the men. I mean for everyone else in the world who goes into this book just looking for an excuse to make fun of you. I would say that most people don’t know that much about France, but they do know a few things: that they like their baguettes, their socialism, Sartre, dirrrty dirrty sexy lurrrve and they despise this thing called the bourgeoisie. This book doesn’t really do a thing to dispr Oh, Emma. Emma, Emma, Emma. Darling, why must you make it so easy ? No, dear, (for once) I don’t mean for the men. I mean for everyone else in the world who goes into this book just looking for an excuse to make fun of you. I would say that most people don’t know that much about France, but they do know a few things: that they like their baguettes, their socialism, Sartre, dirrrty dirrty sexy lurrrve and they despise this thing called the bourgeoisie. This book doesn’t really do a thing to disprove any of this (though I can’t say baguettes had a prominent place in the plot), and I expect that it had a great deal to do with starting the last two stereotypes. Emma, my dear, Desperate Housewives isn’t your fault, but you can see why some people might blame you, don’t you? Your constant, throbbing whining about how your (plentiful) food isn’t served on crystal platters, how your dresses(of which you have more than a typical country doctor’s wife) aren’t made of yards of spider-spun silk, and most of all how your husband dresses wrong, talks wrong, thinks wrong, WEARS THE WRONG HAT (!!), and is so offensively happy with you that he enjoys coming straight home to tell you about his day and relax in front of his fireplace every night instead of going out drinking- well, there’s a saying about the smallest violin, isn’t there? It makes it easy for people to plausibly dismiss this story with things like this: (If it makes you feel better, dear, you are hardly the only one.. Your other compatriots in 19th century repressed female misery receive similar treatment: ) It is easy to despise you, Emma. You and your seemingly shallow priorities, the unthinking selfish harm you did to your husband AND your baby girl, the endless excuses you had for your, frankly, off the charts stupid behavior, the fact that you didn’t even try and communicate how unhappy you were to the guy who loved you who might’ve done something about it (since all the evidence shows that he is willing to COMPLETELY CHANGE HIS LIFE whenever you ask him to) and, finally (what can seem to be) the incredibly coward move you made in finding a way to not face the consequences your childish sense of the world couldn’t believe would eventually come up. What goes around comes around ,as the wise chanteur sayeth. (Perhaps the alternate cover above should substitute ‘Justin Timberlake’ for Sassy Gay Friend.) That’s pretty much how I felt about you for about 150 pages after you made your entrance, Emma. While you started your endlessly copied, endlessly bastardized fall from Angel in the Home Grace, and while you tried to make a saint out of yourself for not having sex with a young clerk who couldn’t have supported you anyway. You were simply the grandmother of Lady Chatterley, an extended protest letter to a dead king I couldn’t care less about. But in the end, you won, Emma. I couldn’t escape you. Seriously, y’all, this book would not leave my head alone, for days, and I thought… many different and contradictory things about it. In the end, though, I kept coming back to one thought: the most terrifying thing I can think of is getting caught in Emma Bovary’s eyes. Did everyone read that profile about Dan Savage this weekend about infidelity and marriage? I did. Emma is the literary incarnation of Savage’s argument. Her eyes are on the cover of this book, and the more I looked at them, the more disturbed I got. Those eyes are the reason that marriage is so frightening, why ‘commitment issues’ exist. This is a novel about how reality can look just the same to you from one day to the next, but to your partner, it can have turned into a hell or a heaven, even if it is the same Tuesday routine as the last one. Emma’s gaze, how each time she fixes her eyes on some scheme of happiness and how those eyes transform everything they see. She shows how unstable marriage is, how thin the foundations are- resting on nothing but the words- “I love you.” Words that just need one more word to dissolve the entire thing. That’s it, you guys. One word and someone’s will to speak it is all that stands between a solid marriage and one that is over- no matter how much paperwork you sign, how many kids you have, houses you fill with furniture. You never really know what the person across from you is thinking. How do you really know what motivates someone? Are they with you because they have made a resolution to be? Are they there with you because the stars shine in your eyes? Are they perfect to you because they are about to leave? Marriage, for better or worse, no matter what people say, adds so many complications. It is the commitment that people twist and bend over and around in so many different contortions to try to make it work- because it is a marriage, because it means something. How difficult is it to trust that people are simply what they say they are? Charles is simple and straightforward and rather sweet- and Emma hates him for it. She smiles and smiles and smiles… and then cheats on him, bankrupts him, tries to prostitute herself and kills herself rather than spend another day with him. This is the most anxiety inducing book I have ever read about marriage. It’s the 19th century where you have to make a vow for life that you can't get out of, not really, in order to test the idea that you might want to be with someone. If you're wrong, that's it. You've failed. It’s all-or-nothing. Emma is the incarnation of the expectations of the institution at the time- all-or-nothing. Madame Bovary is destroyed because she tries to put her all into Charles, then Rodolphe and then Leon, and none of them can withstand it. Each of them are good for different things, and only for a little while, and she can't accept it. That is not the ideal. She won't accept less than the ideal. You guys, she's nothing more than exactly what she is told is available to her- granted, she's after the best of what she's told is available: the ideal. But why do we hold that against her? As long as we live in a society where we’re told to strive after the ideal, to never give up, you will have people who destroy themselves and everyone around them to get it. Savage’s discussion of what the “ideal” means in real life is enlightening and pertinent here, I think. He talks about how you have to be willing to change a lot and make a huge effort to keep the deal of monogamy alive. Of course everyone has their limits, and in many marriages, the trade offs of one person’s limits for the others (I won’t do this, and you won’t do that- I won’t do that, but I will do this) end up making the deal of monogamy work. But you have to be honest about it, you have to be able to say things that you’ve never said out loud before. You have to admit that you won’t be happy unless you live a life where you have crystal knickknacks on your fireplace, and you get off from pies being thrown in your face. But it’s not that easy- Emma was on her deathbed, writhing in agony from eating arsenic, and she still couldn’t tell Charles what she wanted from him. I can’t blame Emma, ultimately. It actually made me think, of all things, a bit about Planet of Slums. That book talks about the millions of people who have been born outside the system, in illegal settlements to parents who are illegal themselves, and who are not, in fact, ignored by the system. They never get into the system in the first place- a system that is not built to cope with the mind-blowing poverty that arises from its excrement. The system can’t acknowledge it and justify itself. At the risk of sounding like I think relatively-well-off white lady problems bear any resemblance to the horror of someone living on the outskirts of Kinshasa in a lean-to, Emma is just trying to get in to a society that can't acknowledge her and go on. She’s trying with all her might to buy into the fairy tales she’s been told (just like the revived, and growing belief in magic in some slums), and does whatever she has to do to get her hands on it, even if only for a little while. She saw that fairy tales are real (or so she thinks) at that ball that one time- she SAW it, mommy- and can’t handle the fact that they exist on this earth and she can’t be a part of it. And in case anyone finds her head-in-the-sand refusal to face the world overly childish or impossible to relate to: The endless line of irresponsible credit she takes out from the scam artist down the street in order to feed her fantasies about the way she believes her life should look has obvious immediate relevance to America in the pre-2008 financial crisis era. In some ways, the existential crisis Flaubert is trying to outline here: between a solidly practical, profit-and-advancement outlook on life and a sensibility that at least tries to aspire to something higher, even if it is unaffordable or impossible, is the distilled essence of the push and pull of American partisan politics. Monsieur Homais would have done very well on Wall Street. Emma can be read as being more American than French, really. Emma is a true believer. She doesn’t just want attention from men, or shiny things. I didn’t really believe that until the part where she tries to renounce the whole world for fervent religious devotion. Failing making it into her fairy tale, she wants to escape where she is- to somewhere else, anywhere else. By the end, I felt like I was suffocating right along with her. Virginia Woolf said that the “present participle is the devil” . Emma adds the present place, the present time, the present person you are with. She really is willing to try anything to escape. On her deathbed, as she pleaded to die, my heart was racing along with hers and the whole finale read like a blockbuster last action scene with explosives and severed limbs flying. I didn’t enjoy the journey I had with her, but I had made it and lived in tiny spaces with her, spaces that got ever smaller as the book wound down. Every chapter there was less and less light until she was curled up in a ball in solitary confinement with no hope of escape. In the Count of Monte Cristo, we root for the hero to get thrown over the side of a cliff in a body bag because it is his only hope of escape. How could we do less for poor Emma? She deserves her chance to make it to the place she always hoped for- even if priests and businessmen argue whether she got there over her corpse. If she can’t be buried in ‘blessed’ ground, well, at that point the priest’s God is just another man telling her she has to stay in the woods with the witch and her oven rather than try to find the path home, like she was always taught to do. Flaubert handles his prose deftly, precisely, and with a deceptively commonplace hand. He doesn’t try for smart metaphors and delicate similes, but rather has characters say what the mean in an effectively believable way that makes Emma a character who can impact the lives of real women. Parts of this novel are spine-tinglingly sordid, others wrench out your gut, most of it can be drearily, boringly, mind-numbingly quotidian, and every so often, a gem shines through that makes you turn around and look at someone you had thought you were done being interested in. In other words, it’s like last Wednesday. And the Tuesday before that. And today. And probably next Monday. The morning when you woke up vowing that today it was all going to be different, that afternoon when you just wanted to die, the evening when you forgot it all making dinner and laughing about that thing you saw on the internet. Flaubert can’t get it all, or say it all right, but he knows that. In fact, he’s willing to tell his readers that. But he does it in such a way that you just want to punch him in the face like you do that size 0 model who complains that she’s too fat: “Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” Aw, come on, Gustave. Why do you want to make those of us with irrevocably not-size-0 rears, who can’t get from Q to R, cry? Yet, even your complaining makes me want to hug you. I guess what I am saying is why are you so awesome, Monsieur Flaubert?

  2. 4 out of 5

    DeLaina

    This is one of the books that has had a profound effect on my life. The moral? Be happy with what you have and where you are!!! Mme. Bovary fritters away her entire life with thoughts of, "If only X would happen, THEN I could be truly happy" and yet she never is. She gets everything she thinks she wants only to find out she's still not content. I read this while I was engaged and at the time, thought, "Well, I'll be happier when I'm married, but once I am, then life will be fabulous". After a few This is one of the books that has had a profound effect on my life. The moral? Be happy with what you have and where you are!!! Mme. Bovary fritters away her entire life with thoughts of, "If only X would happen, THEN I could be truly happy" and yet she never is. She gets everything she thinks she wants only to find out she's still not content. I read this while I was engaged and at the time, thought, "Well, I'll be happier when I'm married, but once I am, then life will be fabulous". After a few years I found myself playing the same role as Mme. Bovary: "Once I can get pregnant and have kids, then I'll be happy"; "Once I'm not pregnant and sick anymore, THEN I can be happy"; "Once we get out of this apartment and into our house, then I will surely be happy"; "Once the baby starts sleeping through the night, I can definitely be happy"; "Once the baby is out of diapers...etc. etc. ad nauseum...literally! I want to be content with my circumstances, whatever they may be, and Mme. Bovary is a reminder of what happens to those who are unable to find contentment in the journey, and are continually seeking yet another unsatisfying destination.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"

    Oy, the tedium, the drudgery of trying to read this book! I tried to get into this story. Really, I did. It's a classic, right? And everyone else likes it. I kept making myself continue, hoping I could get into the story and figure out what's supposed to be so good about it. I won't waste any more of my precious reading time on this. It's about a self-absorbed young wife who longs for anyone else's life except her own. When she's in the city, she dreams of the farm. When she's in the country, she Oy, the tedium, the drudgery of trying to read this book! I tried to get into this story. Really, I did. It's a classic, right? And everyone else likes it. I kept making myself continue, hoping I could get into the story and figure out what's supposed to be so good about it. I won't waste any more of my precious reading time on this. It's about a self-absorbed young wife who longs for anyone else's life except her own. When she's in the city, she dreams of the farm. When she's in the country, she dreams of the city. When she's at a social gathering she imagines that everyone else's life is so much more exciting than her own. Blah, blah, blah. Too many wordy descriptions of what people were wearing, what the buildings looked like, etc. If you're going to take a long time to tell a story, it had better be a good story. This one is NOT!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Before her marriage, she had believed that what she was experiencing was love; but since the happiness that should have resulted from that love had not come, she thought she must have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out just what was meant, in life, by the words bliss, passion, and intoxication, which had seemed so beautiful to her in books.” Mia Wasikowska plays Madame Bovary in the 2015 movie. Before she is Madame Bovary, Emma is keeping house for her father on a remote farm. I wonder wh ”Before her marriage, she had believed that what she was experiencing was love; but since the happiness that should have resulted from that love had not come, she thought she must have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out just what was meant, in life, by the words bliss, passion, and intoxication, which had seemed so beautiful to her in books.” Mia Wasikowska plays Madame Bovary in the 2015 movie. Before she is Madame Bovary, Emma is keeping house for her father on a remote farm. I wonder what would have happened to her if Doctor Charles Bovary had not been summoned to set her father’s broken leg? It is inconceivable to think of her married to a farmer or a tradesman or being swept away by a travelling peddler. She is beautiful enough to be a duchess or a marquise, a pretty bobble for the dance floor, or an elegant adornment for the dinner table, and certainly, the perfect fine drapery for a night at the theatre. Charles just expects her to be a wife. A woman to manage his household. A woman to uplift him and give him confidence to keep trying to better himself. He is successful in a dull and conservative way, and whenever he tries to raise himself up further, perhaps in an attempt to win the respect of his pretty wife, he is met with utter failure. There is nothing romantic about him. He is steady and completely devoted to her. Whenever he tries to express grand passions, somehow these attempts lack the ability to ignite the flames of desire or evoke the effervescent emotions that her novels tell her are the indications of true love. Her frustrations, once contained in a heavy ball beneath her heart, begin to unravel like many hissing snakes, and her docile nature becomes viperous. ”She no longer hid her scorn for anything, or anyone, and she would sometimes express singular opinions, condemning what was generally approved, and commending perverse or immoral things: which made her husband stare at her wide-eyed.” Other men desire her, even Charles’s father, who is a retired army officer and a man of the world, who will take any opportunity to pull her to him in a deserted hallway or tug her into a dark alcove for a reasonably platonic cuddle. Men can sense her dissatisfaction behind the cute dimple of her smile and the twinkling stars in her eyes. She is ripe for the plucking. Being a man well experienced with the betraying beguilement of beauty, I would like to think that I would be impervious to her charms. I would only have to clutch the slenderness of my wallet to realize that a woman of her insatiable need for material things would only lead me to disaster and ruin. Of course, there is this: ”And she was ravishing to look at, a tear trembling in her eye like water from a rainstorm in the blue chalice of a flower.” Most men will meet many beautiful women in their lifetimes, but of course, the crux of the matter with a woman like Madame Bovary is knowing that with a little effort she can be yours...at least for a time. Two men are led into catastrophic affairs with Emma. These indiscretions prove even more disastrous for her. ”There are souls who endure endless torment? They are driven now to dream, not to take action, to experience the purest passions, then the most extreme joys, and so they hurl themselves into every sort of fantasy, every sort of folly.” Recklessness can prove too exhilarating, even intoxicating, but rarely does it lead to long term happiness. The other problem that Madame Bovary has is a lack of funds. Her husband makes a good living, but he can not even begin to keep up with her need to possess fine things, or to conduct a lifestyle better suited to an aristocratic pocketbook. This is a theme of particular interest to Gustave Flaubert. In fact, he wrote a whole book called Dictionary of Accepted Ideas, condemning the very worst detrimental aspects of having too much money and not enough curiosity. ”What he despised, really, was a certain type of bourgeois attitude. It included traits such as intellectual and spiritual superficiality, raw ambition, shallow culture, a love of material things, greed, and above all a mindless parroting of sentiments and beliefs.” An immoral, grubbing moneylender sinks his talons into Emma’s soft pale skin like a blood sucking leech. He takes advantage of her naivete concerning the truth worth of hard currency and plays upon her covetous nature for decadent things. She is so close, with an extended line of credit, to living a life of frivolous fun, buoyed by a series of passionate, heart fluttering affairs, that she can almost see it, almost taste it, and almost believe she can obtain the life she has only read about. As Vladimir Nabokov says, ”The ironic and the pathetic are beautifully intertwined.” Emma’s mother-in-law believes the books she has been reading are the reason for the faults in her daughter-in-law’s character. ”Wouldn’t one have the right to alert the police if, despite this, the bookseller persisted in his business as purveyor of poison?” I have to admit I laughed out loud. As much as booksellers would like to claim to have diabolical control over readers, we have to defer to the writers. In fact, Flaubert had to defend himself in court for charges of immorality regarding the publication of Madame Bovary. Nothing drives book sales like a court of law trying to deem a book too scandalous for people to be trusted to read it. To me, this book encourages morality and fiscal responsibility. I don’t see how, given the tragic nature of the book, someone would read this book and want to emulate Madame Bovary. However, I do understand the feeling that some women have of being trapped in a cage, even if it is a gilded one. The responsibilities of life can make one feel the itch to be reckless, unfettered, and pine for romantic assignations that will awaken youthful desires. Maybe this book is more of a how-to manual on how not to conduct oneself with torrid affairs and fiscal carelessness. This novel is considered the first example of realistic fiction. This translation is 311 pages long. Flaubert had over 4500 pages of rough drafts that this relatively slender volume emerged from. The lyrical nature of the writing attests to the stringent diligence that Flaubert insisted upon to craft each page of this novel. I couldn’t help, of course, but think of Anna Karenina as I read this book. I read and reviewed Tolstoy’s masterpiece earlier this year. It is easy to condemn both of these women, but who among us has not had destructive desires which we have either indulged in or at least coveted? Both women are fully drawn characters, completely exposed to our critical judging eye, and at the end of the day, deserving of our pity. Either woman would have made a wonderful heroine for a Shakespearean drama. I can hear the gasps from a 17th century audience. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  5. 4 out of 5

    Better Eggs

    Three and a half stars, uprated to 5 stars because I can't get it out of my head. 9 April 2012. Not sure what to make of it. The self-obsessed Emma Bovary was obviously (to me) a side of Flaubert himself. She feels that there is so much more but her limited life fences her in and instead of drawing into herself, seeing what she has to offer, how to make the best of herself, she wants happiness to come to her just as it does in the romance novels she, and Flaubert, read. I understood that spiritual Three and a half stars, uprated to 5 stars because I can't get it out of my head. 9 April 2012. Not sure what to make of it. The self-obsessed Emma Bovary was obviously (to me) a side of Flaubert himself. She feels that there is so much more but her limited life fences her in and instead of drawing into herself, seeing what she has to offer, how to make the best of herself, she wants happiness to come to her just as it does in the romance novels she, and Flaubert, read. I understood that spiritual flailing around, turning this way and that, using looks to make up for depth, using sex to pass for love, and enjoying fooling those she lived with into believing what they saw was what they got. We've all been a bit shallow at times, but to have made a whole career, a whole life of it, no! But then Emma departs from the author and becomes entirely his creation. She doesn't think forward, thinks her beauty will solve all. Thinks that those who say they love her don't mean they love having an affair, having sex, with her but that they love her deeply and for all time. Not that she is capable of loving that way herself either, so maybe she really didn't know what it meant. Her idea of love is the bodice-ripper, secret affair, always-exciting, happily-ever-after variety, except her affairs die when the men are satiated with this demanding woman. She can't even conceive of real-life nurturing of her child or being supportive, that's for fools like her husband. She always thinks someone will be there to pamper her and indulge her and that there will never be any consequences, that the piper will not call round to be paid for his pretty tune. Such a sad story, so beautifully written and it deserves a far better review than these few lines but I felt like writing down my first reaction on finishing the book, I don't want the emotions to wear off and have to analyse it critically, it wasn't that sort of experience for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    Before marriage she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought, have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed to her so beautiful in books. You might be surprised to learn that I was mesmerized by Emma’s life story. I was mesmerized and suffered along with her as she capsized further and further into the ambushes life presented her. Before marriage she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought, have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed to her so beautiful in books. You might be surprised to learn that I was mesmerized by Emma’s life story. I was mesmerized and suffered along with her as she capsized further and further into the ambushes life presented her. Yes, I felt like I was in a trance and could not escape. Oh, Emma, dear Emma, why do people hate you so? Why did you make them feel that way? I am sorry for being so blunt. You, and your seemingly shallow priorities, gave your critics plenty of ammunition. You did the unthinkable. What excuse did you have for such a selfish, impulsive and futile behavior? Did you by any chance hear Virginia Woolf say 'You cannot find peace by avoiding life.'? What did you have to dive head first before she even professed this truth? But you might have overdid it, don’t you agree with me? The horror of being a woman with no choices… As I read on, I kept coming back to one thought: the most terrifying thing I can think of is getting caught in Emma Bovary’s life. She was not alone in her infidelity, did you know that? Not in her time, not today. What about the reason for marriage? She married to escape, I know. And she hoped for a better life. I don’t believe she loved Charles, not even in the beginning. Maybe she romanced him, what woman would not do it in her place? …sitting on the grass that she dug up with little prods of her sunshade, Emma repeated to herself, "Good heavens! Why did I marry?" She asked herself if by some other chance combination it would have not been possible to meet another man; and she tried to imagine what would have been these unrealised events, this different life, this unknown husband. All, surely, could not be like this one. He might have been handsome, witty, distinguished, attractive, such as, no doubt, her old companions of the convent had married… But she—her life was cold as a garret whose dormer window looks on the north, and ennui, the silent spider, was weaving its web in the darkness in every corner of her heart. And I remembered Jane Austen, who opened the door for woman to search for happiness in their marriage. Why did women marry in those times? Women married only to increase their social standing or for money, but with Austen they start to have a chance at happiness. Flaubert does something similar with Madame Bovary, I believe. He accuses the status quo, the position of women, in a circumvented way, by showing us Emma’s deep unhappiness and how her actions condemned her and society. Poor Emma. I pitied her for each time she fixed her gaze on some scheme of happiness and how her eyes led her astray. Then the lusts of the flesh, the longing for money, and the melancholy of passion all blended themselves into one suffering, and instead of turning her thoughts from it, she clave to it the more, urging herself to pain, and seeking everywhere occasion for it. She was irritated by an ill-served dish or by a half-open door; bewailed the velvets she had not, the happiness she had missed, her too exalted dreams, her narrow home. The only pastime she could enjoy without guilt was reading. From that she built fantasies, it is true. But did she not have the right at least of her own fantasies? It seems not, as we overhear Charles and her mother in law talking: "Do you know what your wife wants?" replied Madame Bovary senior. "She wants to be forced to occupy herself with some manual work. If she were obliged, like so many others, to earn a living, she wouldn't have these vapours, that come to her from a lot of ideas she stuffs into her head, and from idleness in which she lives." "Yet she is always busy," said Charles. "Ah! always busy at what? Reading novels, bad books, works against religion, and in which they mock at priests in speeches taken from Voltaire. But all that leads you far astray, my poor child. Anyone who has no religion always ends up turning badly." So it was decided to stop Emma reading novels. As if she had the choice of earning a living, being a female. What hypocrisy! The only choice they see to avoid her turning badly is to forbid her reading her novels. One of the few pleasures she was allowed. In a time that judged everyone by their wealth; that breathed a suffocating morality deceptively reinforced mainly by women themselves, society would be horrified by women’s pursuit of anything more than their obligations. On top of all that isn’t it understandable that Emma would pray for a son when she got pregnant? She hoped for a son; he would be strong and dark; she would call him George; and this idea of having a male child was like an expected revenge for all her impotence in the past. A man, at least, is free; he may travel over passions and over countries, overcome obstacles, taste of the most far-away pleasures. But a woman is always hampered. She was so right, men at least were much more free than women. I not only comprehend her reasons, but commiserate with her. So, why look at a baby girl she knew had been born with the wrong gender! It all went against her most heartfelt dreams. Emma might have towards the end had a touch of evil brought by desperation. But who wouldn't? Ambushes and pitfalls... Oh, she tried to renounce all her dreams through moments of fervent religious devotion. At mass on Sundays, when she looked up, she saw the gentle face of the Virgin amid the blue smoke of the rising incense. Then she was moved… Intrigue, however, had already tempted her and kept coming her way. Why would she be invited and attend a ball in a house so out of her reality? Was it not a trap? After that, you could not help yourself but wish you had access to that fairy like life. What an ambush, when she was attempting to behave: Her journey to Vaubyessard had made a hole in her life, like one of those great crevices that a storm will sometimes make in one night in mountains. Still she was resigned. She devoutly put away her beautiful dress, down to the satin shoes whose soles were yellowed with the slippery wax of the dancing floor. Her heart was like these. In its friction against wealth something had come over it that could not be effaced. Such a fortuitous event served only to stress the undesirability of her life. After the ennui of this disappointment her heart once more remained empty, and then the same series of days recommenced. So now they would thus follow one another, always the same, immovable, and bringing nothing. Other lives, however flat, had at least the chance of some event. One adventure sometimes brought with it infinite consequences and the scene changed. But nothing happened to her; God had willed it so! The future was a dark corridor, with its door at the end shut fast. Another bait would present herself in the person of Monsieur Lheureux. He began cajoling Emma quite innocently for the first time when offering her to buy some scarves, 'I wanted to tell you, he went on good-naturedly, 'that it isn’t the money I should trouble about. Why, I could give you some, if need be.' Thus, another temptation felt into her lap like a dream come through. The endless line of irresponsible credit was not more than an option offered her that she could not have imagine existed if were not for this trickster. Later we witness how she tries to reform, to be more tolerant and wishing to endure her life as it was, taking responsibility for her daughter and taking interest in the housework. Just then up comes Monsieur Rodolphe Boulanger, who after first meeting Madame Bovary '[s]he is very pretty', he said to himself, 'she is very pretty, this doctor’s wife.' And he goes on, 'I think he is very stupid. She is tired of him, no doubt. She is gaping after love like a carp after water on a kitchen-table. Yes, but how to get rid of her afterwards?' He decides so easily to seduce her. Oh, yes, she went along with it and of her free will. But it was too much temptation, for someone so thirsty. I imagined that if it was not Rodolphe it would be another. And later on came Leon. After the affair with Rodolphe begins, Emma marvels at how much she had lacked living before: "I have a lover! a lover!" delighting at the idea as if a second puberty had come to her. So at last she was to know those joys of love, that fever of happiness of which she had despaired! She was entering upon marvels where all would be passion, ecstasy, delirium. An azure infinity encompassed her, the heights of sentiment sparkled under her thought, and ordinary existence appeared only afar off, down below in the shade, through the interspaces of these heights. Thus, Flaubert puts all these temptations in her way. It is as if Emma when walking down a meadow starts to stumble on beautiful, ripe apples that lie on the ground and cannot resist but pick some and take a few bites. Could she have resisted them all? But could Emma have escape her destiny? Could she have simply accepted life as it was offered to her?, with all its constraints and no reward... I believe all that she lived was utterly inevitable. Could she have run away from her own behavior and avoided her ultimate destiny? Emma was on the same boat as Oedipus found himself in. I felt after reading Oedipus Rex that there was not really anything that Oedipus could have done to get himself out of his destiny. Could Emma have done it differently? It seemed to me that the more Oedipus attempted to get out of it, the deeper he was immersed in its inevitability. It is simply that there was no way for him to avoid doing it all and facing his fate. Was Emma’s destiny any less inevitable? I do not believe so. There was no chorus to declare that to us, but Flaubert himself serves the role, even if it is not so explicit and you have to read between the lines: It seemed to her that the ground of the oscillating square went up the walls and that the floor dipped on end like a tossing boat. She was right at the edge, almost hanging, surrounded by vast space. The blue of the heavens suffused her, the air was whirling in her hollow head; she had but to yield, to let herself be taken; and the humming of the lathe never ceased, like an angry voice calling her. And so it all ends… But as in the beginning in the end, you beguiled me Emma. I was with you from the start and you could not escape me even in death. Seriously, I tell all your critics, your tragic story would not leave me alone. It still doesn’t. You had no choice like Oedipus could not escape killing his father or marrying his mother. So, why people do not stop condemning you when they pity him? You were clever and wanted to exercise your intellect. Imagine the frustration of nothing to do? Perhaps your mother in law was right, you were fated to end badly. What a tragedy of never finding someone that could begin to understand you. Flaubert with his impressive prose evokes her thoughts and feelings throughout the novel, and I had no choice but be enticed by his heroine. ...it seemed to her that Providence pursued her implacably, ...she had never felt so much esteem for herself nor so much contempt for others... She would have liked to strike all men, to spit in their faces, to crush them, and she walked rapidly straight on, pale, quivering, maddened, searching the empty horizon with tear-dimmed eyes, and as it were rejoicing in the hate that was choking her. Finally, I think I was able to grasp the reasons that make Madame Bovary a classic, a modern tragedy where a soul is doomed because she appreciates and battles against all that comes her way. Despite her limitations in life and as a product of her time, Emma has an unbridled passion and ends pursuing her fantasies. That ends condemning her. Nevertheless, Emma Bovary is brave in her irresponsible choices because it brings her closer to the happiness she wants, even if doing so she is able to attain only a glimpse of her dreams. Even if for that she had to die. And she died so that other women could strive for a more compassionate fate. ___

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    My 3rd reading of this masterpiece written with irony and finesse. The eternal story of Emma Bovary and her broken dreams is heartbreaking every time. The narration is actually quite modern in that the perspective changes quite often from a mysterious first person in the beginning (a schoolmate of Charles Bovary?) to the interior monologues of Charles, Emma, Léon, and Rodolphe. The descriptions of the various locations in the book are always surprising with tiny references to the principle charac My 3rd reading of this masterpiece written with irony and finesse. The eternal story of Emma Bovary and her broken dreams is heartbreaking every time. The narration is actually quite modern in that the perspective changes quite often from a mysterious first person in the beginning (a schoolmate of Charles Bovary?) to the interior monologues of Charles, Emma, Léon, and Rodolphe. The descriptions of the various locations in the book are always surprising with tiny references to the principle characters. It may surprise you to know that this book, which is essentially a tragedy, also is full of humor and sarcasm. For example, when Léon and Emma have a rendez-vous in the Cathedral of Rouen, the Swiss guard who tries to give them a tour of the church while Léon is freaking out and wants to get out of there while Emma pretends to be interested because she is not quite sold on the seduction is pure genius. In a similar, if more romantic vein, the whispered conversation of Rodolphe and Emma in the lodge as the vice-Prefect gives the world's most boring speech (his boss couldn't be bothered to come) was extraordinary. Every word in Flaubert is measured and perfectly weighted to each situation, the original French is absolutely splendid - whether he is describing the pretentious conversation of M. Homais or the various season and their impact on the moods of the characters and tone of the novel. The only criticism that I can bring is that the denouement is a bit long - that being said, there is another fantastic ironic payoff in the last sentence. This book from 1856 is of course a product of the Romantic period in culture but it surpasses most of its contemporaries by its precise psychology - both of men and women, its irony, its subtle criticism of the "petit bourgeois" and French society, and the meticulous observation of detail. Even 161 years later, it remains a monument of literature and a summit of free expression (Flaubert was pursued in court and beat the censors.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Since I read Quicksand by Nella Larsen this week, Emma Bovary started haunting my mind yet again! We are old friends, Emma and I. I spent hours and hours over a dictionary at age seventeen in high school, trying to read about her agonies in original French, with only the Isabelle Huppert film as a guidance. In fact, I actually think I owe it to Emma Bovary that I finally made it over the threshold to understand written French. That ultimately led me to university studies in French literature, and Since I read Quicksand by Nella Larsen this week, Emma Bovary started haunting my mind yet again! We are old friends, Emma and I. I spent hours and hours over a dictionary at age seventeen in high school, trying to read about her agonies in original French, with only the Isabelle Huppert film as a guidance. In fact, I actually think I owe it to Emma Bovary that I finally made it over the threshold to understand written French. That ultimately led me to university studies in French literature, and a lifelong love for French writers. In a way, I could argue that Emma introduced me to Diderot and Voltaire, I guess. But she did so much more for me, as well. She awakened in me a sense that the world holds different options for women and men, and that women's dreams are dangerous, detrimental and slightly sentimental and ridiculous. She made me socially, politically angry for the first time. I know there are thousands of erudite studies showing all the weaknesses of Emma Bovary, but from the start, I could not - would not - see her that way. I was with her when she danced in the ballroom, and I wished the party would never end. I hated the conventional goodness of Charles, and understood Emma's frustration with him better than his frustration with her. After all, she had ideas, dreams, longings, and he had: routine, reputation and boredom. I rejoiced that she dared to do what men have always, always allowed themselves to do: enjoy a sexual life of her own choice. She knew she would pay a much higher price than any man ever would for that freedom. I loved the fact that she embraced life in its passion and pain, and I suffered through the horrifying pages of her brutal final agony with the feeling that I would not have wanted her to say no to one single piece of experience in exchange for a better end - living according to her husband's standards would have been death over and over, without end. I am fully aware that this is not a moral reading or interpretation of the novel, and I don't encourage or follow her choices in real life, but I loved Emma Bovary's daring rebellion without limits when I was young, and it has never actually changed. Whenever I remember my encounter with Emma, the first thought invariably is: "Go girl! Do what you want!" To close the circle: reading Larsen's Quicksand made me think of Emma because the character Helga Crane, not fully belonging anywhere, and drifting from one place to the next, never really lives her dreams fully. She always pulls out, runs away, hides from too strong emotions, and in the end, she resigns herself to rural life with a preacher she hates, and multiple pregnancies to bind her to the hopeless boredom and tedium. Reading about Helga, I found myself thinking again with fondness of Madame Bovary: "Go girl! Do what you want!"

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    886. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary is the debut novel of French writer Gustave Flaubert, published in 1856. The story focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. One day, Charles visits a local farm to set the owner's broken leg and meets his patient's daughter, Emma Rouault. Emma is a beautiful, daintily dressed young woman who has received a "good education" in 886. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary is the debut novel of French writer Gustave Flaubert, published in 1856. The story focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. One day, Charles visits a local farm to set the owner's broken leg and meets his patient's daughter, Emma Rouault. Emma is a beautiful, daintily dressed young woman who has received a "good education" in a convent. She has a powerful yearning for luxury and romance inspired by reading popular novels. Charles is immediately attracted to her, and visits his patient far more often than necessary, until Heloise's jealousy puts a stop to the visits. When Heloise unexpectedly dies, Charles waits a decent interval before courting Emma in earnest. Her father gives his consent, and Emma and Charles marry. The novel's focus shifts to Emma. Charles means well but is plodding and clumsy. After he and Emma attend an elegant ball given by the Marquis d'Andervilliers, Emma finds her married life dull and becomes listless. Charles decides his wife needs a change of scenery and moves his practice to the larger market town of Yonville (traditionally identified with the town of Ry). There, Emma gives birth to a daughter, Berthe, but motherhood proves a disappointment to Emma. She becomes infatuated with an intelligent young man she meets in Yonville, a young law student, Léon Dupuis, who shares her appreciation for literature and music and returns her esteem. Concerned with maintaining her self-image as a devoted wife and mother, Emma does not acknowledge her passion for Léon and conceals her contempt for Charles, drawing comfort from the thought of her virtue. Léon despairs of gaining Emma's affection and departs to study in Paris. ... مادام بوواری (بواری) - گوستاو فلوبر (مجید ، نشر مرکز) ادبیات فرانسه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه آوریل سال 1982 میلادی عنوان: مادام بواری؛ نویسنده: گوستاو فلوبر؛ مترجم: رضا عقیلی، محمد قاضی؛ تهران، انتشارات کیهان، 1341 ؛ در 386 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1357؛ چاپ دیگر سوم: تهران، نیل، 1362؛ در سی و هشت و 366 ص؛ چاپ پنجم 1369؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، مجید، 1380؛ در 648 ص؛ شابک: 9644530055؛ چاپ دوم 1381؛ چاپ چهارم 1386؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی - سده 19 م مترجم: مشفق همدانی؛ تهران، چاپ چهارم امیرکبیر، 1395؛ در 392 ص؛ شابک: 9789640016985؛ مترجم: سوسن اردکانی؛ تهران، نگارستان کتاب، 1388؛ در 726 ص؛ شابک: 9786005541533؛ مترجم: مینا آذری؛ مشهد، مرندیز، 1394؛ در 444 ص؛ شابک: 9786001062957؛ مترجم: سمیه موحدی فرد؛ قم، نظاره، 1395؛ در 432 ص؛ شابک: 97860083940389؛ مترجم: سارا راکی؛ قزوین، آزرمیدخت، 1396؛ در 440 ص؛ شابک: 9786007241691؛ نقل قولی از فلوبر هست که: من خود «اما بواری» هستم. پایان نقل نخستین اثر «گوستاو فلوبر» است. «فلوبر» پس از نوشتن اثری با عنوان: «وسوسه سن آنتوان» از دوستان منتقد خود: «ماکسیم دوکان» و «لویی بونه»، دعوت کرد تا داستان را برای آنها بخواند، ولی آن دو، داستان را اثر بدی برشمردند، و به او پیشنهاد کردند، که داستان دیگری درباره ی «دلونه»، از آشنایان آنها، بنویسد. بر این اساس، «فلوبر» آغاز به نگارش داستان «مادام بوواری»، و سعی کردند که داستان را براساس شخصیت‌های واقعی بنویسند، و با استفاده از مشاهدات، و ذهن خود، رخدادها را در طول داستان، گسترش دهند. برای مثال «اما بوواری» همسر «دلونه» است. ا. شربیانی

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kat Kennedy

    Henry James once said, "Madame Bovary has a perfection that not only stamps it, but that makes it stand almost alone; it holds itself with such a supreme unapproachable assurance as both excites and defies judgment." That's right. Defies judgment. I don't know... he looks kind of judgy to me... Unfortunately, I had to read a translation as my French is nowhere near good enough to read the original. Though I am assured that the prose in the original French are amazing and inspiring. I can certainly a Henry James once said, "Madame Bovary has a perfection that not only stamps it, but that makes it stand almost alone; it holds itself with such a supreme unapproachable assurance as both excites and defies judgment." That's right. Defies judgment. I don't know... he looks kind of judgy to me... Unfortunately, I had to read a translation as my French is nowhere near good enough to read the original. Though I am assured that the prose in the original French are amazing and inspiring. I can certainly appreciate the characterization and story-telling ability but I personally struggled with the story as I reconciled what Flaubert seemed to be saying about society, women, women who had affairs, men and romance. Now, I would like to take a moment to quote Manny's Review, since he is the one who convinced me to read this book in the first place. "Flaubert makes no obvious attempt to judge Emma..." No, Flaubert doesn't break up his beautiful prose at any point with, "So whilst that is a very nice tree, I would like to intrude and mention that Emma is, like, a total ho! So, now back to the tree..." I feel he doesn't do this because that would be superfluous. In fact, it seems to me that he doesn't stop judging through this entire book. [image error] The judgement is like looking at vacation photos of a ninja family. You can't see it but you know it's there. Why else would Flaubert so meticulously describe and relish in Emma's fall from grace? Every little detail is mentioned with the same eagerness as a kid dobbing in their little brother. He puts together a file of evidence for her complicity, a smoking gun as you'd say, and leaves it up to us to point the finger. -She immediately decides after her wedding night that she doesn't love Charles. -She then sets about creating her own misery by obsessing and romanticizing this unhappiness until it consumes her. -She goes from a productive and proficient housewife to a morose, unrelenting mess. -She quickly begins despising Charles and blaming him for everything while he dotes on her and grows increasingly content. -Her home quickly falls into a state of shabbiness. -Her daughter goes neglected. -Her first romance uses her unforgivably but is eventually driven away by her incessant neediness and demands. -Her second romance, whilst more earnest in his affections, is also driven away by her incessant neediness, deteriorating mental health and demands. -She drives her husband into bankruptcy. -Commits suicide to escape it all. -Her husband falls into despair, neglects their child and quickly dies. -The child ends up working in a cotton factory. What would a child do working in a cotton factory, you ask? Oh, just a little mill-scavenging. Their job was to crawl under the huge, spinning WHEELS OF DEATH to pick up the spare bits of cotton. They were not allowed to sit, rest, or take a break while the mill ran - which was always except for Sunday when they cleaned the huge, spinning WHEELS OF DEATH that caused these children to live in a constant state of grief and terror Well, doesn't that just cheer you up! The entire story arc and every unnecessary tidbit condemns Emma like one more nail in the coffin. Society is condemned, men are condemned, romantic idealism is condemned. Really, this novel thinks everyone is to blame. What is this novel's answer to it? It seems to be saying, "Well, that silly woman had so much and she threw it all away and look at her now, kids. She's dead! And poor, which is really much worse." The novel seems to step back and tsk at Emma, saying that she had so much. A safe and comfortable home, a good husband who doted on her and she just couldn't be happy with that. Then it looks at society and says, "Well, you created this and now you've helped destroy her too, you assholes!" It shakes its head at Charles and says, "You weren't strong enough to keep her in line and then you pined over this worthless woman to the ruinment of your only child." But I wonder what this book would have been if Emma hadn't been a victim to everyone and every circumstance except for Charles. I wonder what this book would have been like if it displayed a far more realistic approach to a woman having an affair and her reasons. Because, let's face it, this book's depiction of a woman and why she has extra-marital relations is very obtuse. Emma's life and situation is hardly the common for women who seek more out of life. This book makes her quest for more seem silly, unneccessary and ungrateful. Most of all, I wonder what this novel would have been like if it had dealt with Emma as a real character. One who didn't need to be mostly insane to justify having an affair. One who wasn't both stupid and entitled and didn't lose all her money through a lack of self-control and ability to take five seconds to do the math. One who was capable of growing and learning from life. Unfortunately all that is lost. Even in the end, Emma learnt nothing. All sound and fury. Signifying nothing. Much like this novel. My final criticism about this book... This was a book about people gettin' it on... AND THERE WAS NO SEX! [image error] Curse you, Flaubert! Curse you!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Emma is a rather silly, very passionate ( too much so) bored, uneducated to the reality of the real world young woman, who believes in the romantic novels she reads, moonlight walks, eerie, forbidding castles, dangerous flights into unknown, and strange lands always trying to escape their frightening captors... brave, handsome men, that are faithful to their beautiful virtuous women, fighting the evil, monstrous, corrupt but attractive libertines and the hero rescuing them in the nick of time... Emma is a rather silly, very passionate ( too much so) bored, uneducated to the reality of the real world young woman, who believes in the romantic novels she reads, moonlight walks, eerie, forbidding castles, dangerous flights into unknown, and strange lands always trying to escape their frightening captors... brave, handsome men, that are faithful to their beautiful virtuous women, fighting the evil, monstrous, corrupt but attractive libertines and the hero rescuing them in the nick of time...Emma lives on a farm in mid nineteenth century France, the widower, a remote still gentle father, Monsieur Rouault anxious to get rid of his useless daughter, and though he enjoys the work, is not very good at it, ( farming) but a considerably better businessman; being an only child, she wants excitement. Hating the monotonous country, dreaming about the titillating city, Paris and the fabulous people and things there. Yet meeting and marrying the dull, common , hardworking good doctor, Charles Bovary who fixed her father's broken leg, he adores his pretty wife, life has to be better elsewhere she thinks, so agrees to the marriage proposal. Moving to the small, tedious village of Tostes , Emma regrets soon her hasty marriage. Even the birth of a daughter, Berthe who she neglects, not a loving mother the maid raises , has no effect on her gloomy moods. She craves romance, her husband is not like the men in her books, ordinary looking, not fearless or intelligent, words do not inspire coming out of his mouth, he lacks the intense feelings she wants. After moving to another quiet village, Yonville (Ry) clueless Bovary thinks the change of scenery, will lift his listless wife out of her funk. The local wealthy landowner Rodolphe Boulanger, sees the pretty Emma, senses her unhappiness and seduces , a veteran at this sort of thing, he has had many mistresses in the past. At first the secret, quite perilous, thrilling rendezvous behind the back of Emma's house, clandestine notes, reckless walks in the predawn mornings to his Chateau, reminds Emma of her novels... but everything becomes routine, no better than married life. Rodolphe gets annoyed, unexcited, he also doesn't feel like the beginning, sends a letter breaking off the affair. The emotional Emma becomes very ill, her husband fears that she may die, puzzled at the sudden sickness. A slow recover ensues, Emma still has the same husband, starts another affair with a clerk, shy Leon Dupuis, younger than she more grateful too not like the previous lover, the erratic Madame Bovary is in control. In the nearby town of Rouen in Normandy they meet every week, until this also becomes uninteresting, the spendthrift woman behind her trusting, loving, naive , husband's back drives them to ruin through her unreasonable buying sprees . Emma Bovary learns much too late, that the only person who loves her, is the unremarkable man she married. What can I say, love or hate this , it remains a controversial classic , the crowds flock to.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Martine

    Like every European teenager who takes French at secondary school, I was supposed to read Madame Bovary when I was seventeen or so. I chose not to, and boy, am I glad I did. I couldn't possibly have done justice to the richness of Flaubert's writing as a seventeen-year-old. Moreover, I probably would have hated the characters so much that I never would have given the book another chance. Which would have been a shame, as it's really quite deserving of the tremendous reputation it has. Madame Bova Like every European teenager who takes French at secondary school, I was supposed to read Madame Bovary when I was seventeen or so. I chose not to, and boy, am I glad I did. I couldn't possibly have done justice to the richness of Flaubert's writing as a seventeen-year-old. Moreover, I probably would have hated the characters so much that I never would have given the book another chance. Which would have been a shame, as it's really quite deserving of the tremendous reputation it has. Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Rouault, a mid-nineteenth-century peasant woman who has read too many sentimental novels for her own good. When the hopeless romantic marries Charles Bovary, a country doctor, she thinks she is going to lead a life full of passion and grandeur, but instead she gets stuck in a provincial town where nothing ever happens. Hell-bent on some escapism and yearning for someone who understands her romantic needs, Emma embarks on two adulterous affairs, plunges herself into debt and ends up very badly indeed, leaving behind a husband who might not have been the dashing hero of her dreams but who most certainly did care about her. Madame Bovary is most famous for its portrayal of an unfulfilled woman, and indeed it's Emma's ennui and desperate need for romance that the reader will remember. They are described so convincingly that it's hard to believe the author was a man rather than a woman. However, Madame Bovary isn't all about one woman going through life dreaming and breaking down every time reality catches up with her. Like other great classics of realism, it's about society – about the social mores and conditions which instil certain kinds of behaviour in people and then punish them for it. Flaubert's depiction of Emma's provincial village (a haven of all that is base and mediocre) is painstakingly detailed and realistic. It's a wonderfully vivid and well-observed account of life in mid-nineteenth-century rural France, where people go about doing their jobs, conducting illicit affairs, gossiping behind each other's backs, ruining each other financially and generally leading lives which are far from exalted. Flaubert's portrayal of his characters is unabashedly vicious and misanthropic, but such is the quality of his writing that you forgive him for taking such a dim view of humanity. There are descriptions in the book (the seduction at the market, the club-foot operation, the endlessly prolonged death from arsenic poisoning) which rank among the best things nineteenth-century realism has to offer – gloriously life-like scenes which make you feel as if you're right there in the thick of things, watching things happen in front of your horrified eyes. And if the whole thing has a tragic and deterministic slant to it, well, so be it. That's realism for you. At least Flaubert has the decency to grant his heroine a few sighs of rapture before her inexorable demise. For it may be a realist novel, but it has some genuinely romantic moments of passion and drama (cab ride through Rouen, anyone?), and is all the better for it. Ultimately, how you respond to Madame Bovary depends on your own susceptibility to romantic notions. If, like Emma Bovary, you're prone to dreams of passion, beauty and perfection, and yearn to feel and experience rather than being stuck in a dreary life in a village where nothing ever happens, chances are you'll be able to relate to Emma and thus see the genius of Flaubert's depiction of her. If, on the other hand, you think that such romantic escapism is a lot of sentimental, self-indulgent claptrap (which it is – that's the tragedy of it!), you probably won't be able to relate to Emma at all, and therefore won't much appreciate her as a tragic heroine. As for myself, I'm definitely in the former camp. If I'd been Emma, I probably would have walked into the same traps that she does. I would have fallen in love with the one neighbour who seems to understand my need for intensity, I would have gone through the same mad cycle of repentance, dissatisfaction and making the same mistakes again, and I probably would have spent a bit too much money in my quest for soul-affirming experiences, as well. My ruin wouldn't have been as complete as Emma's, but it would have been fed by the same dreams and desires. Oh, yes. So don't let anyone tell you Madame Bovary is an old-fashioned creature whose dilemmas are no longer relevant to modern readers. There are plenty of people in modern society who are as much in love with romance itself as she is, and not just women, either. And as for discontent, how many people today aren't dissatisfied with their lives because they don't match the glamorous/exciting lives they see on TV? And how many people today don't rack up huge debts because the magazines they read have led them to believe that they're entitled to more than is within their means? Replace 'sentimental novels' by 'TV', 'movies' and 'magazines', and all of a sudden Emma's cravings won't seem so outdated any more. Quite the contrary; they're as timeless and universal as they ever were. That's the hallmark of a classic – it speaks to us from across a century and a half and shows us ourselves. We may not much like the picture of ourselves, but it's pretty powerful all the same. I'd give the book four and a half stars if I could, but alas. In the absence of half stars, four stars will have to do, with the assurance that it's well worth another half.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    There’s something about Flaubert’s writing that makes me want to comment on his books as I’m reading them. I had that experience with Bouvard et Pécuchet last year and I had it again while reading this book, so I jotted down my thoughts as I read. Part I jottings When you’re reading such a famous story as this one, the ending of which everyone knows already, you read it differently. You dawdle along, indulging yourself with odd details. And so, in these early pages, I’m admiring how Flaubert desc There’s something about Flaubert’s writing that makes me want to comment on his books as I’m reading them. I had that experience with Bouvard et Pécuchet last year and I had it again while reading this book, so I jotted down my thoughts as I read. Part I jottings When you’re reading such a famous story as this one, the ending of which everyone knows already, you read it differently. You dawdle along, indulging yourself with odd details. And so, in these early pages, I’m admiring how Flaubert describes the part of France in which he has chosen to set his story: Haute-Normandie, his home territory. It’s clear that he loves the countryside around Rouen very much. I’m also enjoying the fact that there’s more than one Madame Bovary in the story. Mme Bovary ‘mère’ is a formidable lady who ushers in Madame Bovary ‘belle-fille’, formidable in her own way if not exactly ‘belle’. But Mme Bovary the second, in spite of faithfully taking the medicine prescribed by her doctor husband Charles, dies conveniently, allowing Madame Bovary the third, the very incarnation of ‘belle’, to be ushered in, bringing bag-loads of tension in her train. If she was a match, she’d ignite all by herself. Now that he’s set up his story, and described its landscape, I feel that Flaubert is really testing his writerly capacities. He’s challenging himself to inhabit Madame Bovary the third’s fiery spirit. He’s good at this. He’s so good at it that I wonder how he can keep it up. I’m noticing too how often he describes the view from her window as she stares longingly at the broader world beyond the walls of her narrow life. That reminds me of something, though I’m not sure what.. And I have to smile at his foresight when he makes Emma Bovary wish that the name Bovary will become famous, that it will be displayed all over bookshops and repeated in the newspapers. But as the quiet pages turn, I find myself longing for a change for Emma and for me as a reader. Her world is too limited. What about the reader’s needs, dear M Flaubert? Spare a thought for us. Emma is invited to a ball in the neighboring château and I think, yes, Flaubert is going to change the pace here, and he does. The comical descriptions of dinner at the chateau remind me of the humurous juxtapositions that occurred on every other page of Bouvard Et Pecuchet, and I can’t help wishing this book could be more like that one. But unfortunately, the château episode is soon over and it hasn’t delivered much in terms of change for Emma - or for the reader. Thoughts on Part II This section starts off with a little more promise. Emma and Charles are moving to Yonville, a little town in a valley by a meandering river. Flaubert describes the road leading to the town as bordered by young aspens, une chaussée plantée de jeunes trembles. The French word for aspen, ‘tremble’, immediately reminds me of Tennyson’s lines from The Lady of Shalott: Willows whiten, aspens quiver, little breezes dusk and shiver, thro' the wave that runs forever by the island in the river, flowing down to Camelot. Four gray walls and four gray towers, overlook a space of flowers, and the silent isle imbowers, the Lady of Shalott. I remember the descriptions of Emma looking at the world through her window, and I think, Yes! Up to this point, Emma has been exactly like the enchanted Lady of Shalott, looking out at the world as if from a mirror, cut off from real life. Perhaps from her window in Yonville, she will see Sir Lancelot riding by... The town provides some interest for the reader in any case. We are introduced to a colorful set of inhabitants. There’s Mme Lefrançois, who runs the local hostelry; there’s her club-footed man-of-all-work, Hippolyte; her regular customers: a querulous tax collector called M. Binet and a young lawyer’s clerk called M. Leon Dupuis. Then there’s a slimy haberdasher called M. Lheureux; the Rouen-Yonville stage-coach driver Hivert; a sanctimonious clergyman called M. Bournisien and a free-thinking but rather pedantic pharmacist called Homais. An immediate battle of words between the clergyman and the pharmacist livens up the story nicely. I welcome these new characters, no matter how sanctimonious or pedantic. And Homais reminds me quite a bit of Bouvard and Pécuchet, though admittedly Homais seems actually to know what he’s talking about unlike that comic duo. But while introducing several interesting and comic characters, Flaubert is simultaneously playing with our expectations. He tells us there was little to see in Yonville - the single street, the length of a rifle’s range, stopped short at the corner of the road. If you turned right at the end, you arrived at the cemetary. The mention of a street the length of a gun’s range, and which comes to an abrupt end, combined with the mention of a cemetery, doesn’t augur well at all. But perhaps I’m wrong to focus on premonitions. On her first morning in her new home in Yonville, Emma looks out the window and sees the lawyer’s clerk, Leon, go by. Is he Sir Lancelot? In any case, within the space of a few pages, he seems to have cheered Emma up considerably. I’m cheered up too because I’m really enjoying the contrast between the super scientific conversations which Homais engages in with everyone, and the super romantic conversation that Emma and Leon have at every opportunity. But Flaubert is still offering us hints about the future: Homais praises Emma’s new house and mentions particularly the advantage of having a side door in an alleyway that allows people to enter and leave without being seen. The pages go by without much happening, and the side door remains unused. Oh, wait, something is happening. A bunch of characters are going on a day trip! How exciting! But it’s only to visit a linen factory. In Part II, the character list may have expanded but life in Yonville Yawnville hasn't really become more interesting. Emma is increasingly bored and exasperated by her gentle husband Charles and by her narrow life in the town. I’m feeling the same with regard to Flaubert. I absolutely can’t find fault with the writing but the story is becoming just as much a torment for me to read as it is for Emma to live through. But a passage beginning, ‘Un soir...’ , and which mentions spring and buds, etc, brings hope - for the reader, at least. Alas, the passage ends with the church bells tolling in peaceful lamentation. Poor Emma. Poor me. And poor Leon has become so bored with Yawnville that he can’t stand it any longer. He leaves without having once made use of that tempting side entrance. What has Emma to look forward to now? Oh right, an Agricultural Show… But in the meantime, Emma has realised that Leon might have been her best chance at love and she missed it. Really, it goes from bad to worse. I’m certain Flaubert was chuckling to himself as he wrote! But perhaps shedding a little tear too. His ability to perfectly phrase his character’s thoughts excuses him a lot: C’était cette rêverie que l’on a sur ce qui ne reviendra plus, la lassitude qui vous prend après chaque fait accompli, cette douleur enfin que vous apportent l’interruption de tout mouvement accoutumé, la cessation brusque d’une vibration prolongée. Emma has bought herself a prie-dieu, a gothic kneeler. I can’t believe Flaubert wrote that with a straight face. Oh! It’s market day in Yawnville. Perhaps something will happen today... Why yes! From her window Emma spies a fine Sir Lancelot in yellow gloves. Or is it Mr Bingley? A single man with twenty thousand a year renting a house in the area, he must surely be in want of a.... Ah! His name is not Bingley but Boulanger, Rodolphe Boulanger. He sounds as romantic as a red-nosed baker. But still, he’s arrived just in time to escort Emma to the Agricultural Show! Who’d have thought the Agricultural Show could turn into a romantic venue! And side by side with the romance, Flaubert offers us a comic interlude between Mme Lefrançois and Homais, who according to Flaubert, has expressions to suit every circumstance, even unfortunate ones. Quelle épouvantable catastrophe ! s’écria l’apothicaire, qui avait toujours des expressions congruentes à toutes les circonstances imaginables. Yes, I was right. This IS a comic novel! And now it’s Emma who’s described as having a red nose! Is Flaubert mocking his main character? Yes, he seems to be mocking everyone in the course of this Agricultural Show episode, juxtaposing contrasting scenes to great comic effect. While the local Deputy engages his large audience at a slow pace on the subject of cereal production, Rodolphe engages his tiny audience at a fast pace on the subject of serial seduction. The deputy is planning a venture involving manufacturing linen, Rodolphe is planning a venture involving bed linen! The comic strand has the upper hand in this section, and it may well be descending into complete farce because Homais is proposing a radical new medical procedure to cure Hippolyte’s club foot. Is Flaubert trying to turn Homais, the supreme unbeliever, into a Messiah who will make the lame walk and the blind see? In the predictably disappointing aftermath of the miracle procedure, Flaubert gives us some great dialogues between the priest and the pharmacist. These are definitely my favourite parts. Meantime, Emma dialogues with her conscience on the subject of her affair with Rodolphe. Yes, you’ve guessed right, the side door on the alley has been finally put to some use. But Rodolphe doesn’t measure up to Emma’s expectations, and his letter of adieu arrives by the unfaithful side-door. While I’m reading Rodolphe’s letter, I’m distracted by the mention of a ‘mancenillier’ tree so I pause to look it up. It’s a poison tree, a tree of death. Flaubert is amusing himself again. And even as Emma enters crisis mode, Flaubert makes Homais create a comic diversion. And then he gives Charles serious money troubles just to bring us back into serious mode again. In the next section, Flaubert cooly announces that Emma wants to become a saint! Elle voulut devenir une sainte. Am I the only one who notices this constant lurching between the serious and the farcical? Ok, she’s now safely through the ‘saint’ crisis and Charles is going to take her to see ‘Lucia de Lamermoor' at the Rouen opera house. This should be a serious episode but it’s introduced by another farcical debate between the pharmacist and the priest. The two are stock comic characters. But romance prevails in spite of the comedy; Emma, like Lucia in the garden scene, meets her old love Leon at the opera. This more mature Leon turns out to be as calculating in his modest way as Rodolphe was, and he manages to get Charles to agree to Emma staying on an extra day in Rouen by herself. So the pair rendezvous at the cathedral which gives Flaubert an opportunity to indulge in flamboyant parallels between Emma’s situation and the edifice itself. The cathedral is described as a gigantic boudoir, the vaulted ceiling extending its ribs like arms to receive Emma’s confession of love for Leon, the stained glass illumining her face, the smoke from the incense burners creating an angelic halo, etc, etc. Someone convince me that Flaubert wasn’t laughing when he wrote this. And there’s a ridiculous person hanging around who insists on giving the pair a guided tour, especially of the Chapel of the Virgin under which is buried a Louis the Something, seigneur of something else, etc, etc, who died on the 23rd of July, a Sunday… The reference to the ‘Sunday’ is one detail too much for Leon. He flees the cathedral’s suffocating arms dragging Emma behind him, and grabs a cab. Not just any cab of course. It has to be a cab that has blinds that can be pulled down completely. Flaubert sends the cabby and his two passengers on a crazy journey around and around the city so that people in the streets see the cab go by again and again and are amazed at the apparitions and reapparaitions of a shuttered vehicle in broad daylight. Phantasmagoric! When Emma gets back to Yawnville after the cab ‘ride’ there’s bad news. But Flaubert can’t just give us a simple delivery of bad news. No, the scene has to open with Homais castigating his apprentice for daring to unlock his medicine cabinet - where he has a bottle of arsenic locked away. Homais is so carried away that he expostulates in Latin and would have expostulated in Chinese or ‘groenlandais’ if he knew such languages! In the middle of all this expostulating, he conveys the bad news to Emma: Charles’ father has died. The story moves on through many more chapters as Emma and Leon find possibilities for more rendezvous, sometimes described in ridiculous terms, sometimes in sublime ones: for Leon, Emma is the heroine of every novel and drama. She is the unnamed She of every love poem. But above all, she’s an angel! This is heady stuff! Emma’s stolen idylls cost money so she borrows and borrows on the strength of Charles’ inheritance. Each time the story strikes such a serious note, Homais is called in to do another comic turn. The man who used to spout Latin at every opportunity suddenly starts peppering his conversation with slang terms to great effect: nous ferons sauter ensemble les monacos. L’apothicaire, autrefois, se fût bien gardé d’une telle expression ; mais il donnait maintenant dans un genre folâtre et parisien qu’il trouvait du meilleur goût ; et, comme madame Bovary, sa voisine, il interrogeait le clerc curieusement sur les mœurs de la capitale, même il parlait argot afin d’éblouir les bourgeois, disant turne, bazar, chicard, chicandard, Breda-street, et Je me la casse, pour : Je m’en vais. Then for ten pages or so, there’s no comic contrast. Flaubert is serious at last. Leon is gone - or as Homais might say, he’s vamoosed. Emma is left with nothing but debts and broken dreams - described in the most beautiful language needless to say. Just when I’d given up on any more comic turns, Homais comes to my rescue to advise against eating wheat and dairy products! There’s nothing new in the world surely. And even when things worsen, he still manages to make me laugh. He declares that in cases of poisoning, the most important thing is to carry out a test. Follow the scientific method. Everything will be fine if you follow the scientific method and carry out tests. At the very worst moment after the famous doctors have arrived and given up on curing the poison victim, Homais feels obliged to entertain them at his house, sending out for pigeons and lamb chops, the best cream and eggs, and warning his wife to take out the wineglasses with the stems. He even dares to offer the famous doctor his own diagnosis, not omitting to mention that he can’t imagine where the victim could have come upon the arsenic. And while the entire town, me included, are waiting for news of the victim, Flaubert allows Homais to continue his farce. He can’t finish dinner with the famous doctor without a coffee from a very scientic-sounding machine, using coffee he has of course torrified and pulverised himself, and when he offers the famous doctor sugar for his coffee, he uses the scientific name: Saccharum, docteur? Soon Homais is back in the sickroom, using all his science to protect the dying woman from the priest’s superstitions. But he doesn’t succeed: Emma is encouraged to bestow on a crucifix the most loving kiss she’s ever bestowed on a man’s body. It’s a wonder Flaubert didn’t name her Marie Madeleine! And Flaubert isn’t done with us yet. Homais and the priest sit by the deathbed arguing about religion until they both fall asleep, when they are shown to be indistinguishable from one another: two fat men nodding in their chairs, their chins resting on their chests. When they wake up, their differences re-emerge: one sprinkles the room with holy water, the other with chlorine and the story ends on that note. I really believe ‘Madame Bovary’ is a comedy. But Homais would no doubt prove me wrong. Using suitably scientific methods, he would prove that the majority of readers consider it a tragedy. So be it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Splendid, Accessible Prose in Lydia Davis' Translation of Madame Bovary Most realize that the novel's basic substance or theme: an adulteress supreme and her poor cuckold hubby. Madame Bovary dreams of literary, romantic adventures with young studs and stands out as possibly the most self-centered anti-heroine in the Western canon. Yet, it could be that some who haven't read it have no idea of the "ending" ending (which I won't give away here). Likely one reason this masterful novel is so affe Splendid, Accessible Prose in Lydia Davis' Translation of Madame Bovary Most realize that the novel's basic substance or theme: an adulteress supreme and her poor cuckold hubby. Madame Bovary dreams of literary, romantic adventures with young studs and stands out as possibly the most self-centered anti-heroine in the Western canon. Yet, it could be that some who haven't read it have no idea of the "ending" ending (which I won't give away here). Likely one reason this masterful novel is so affecting is that most of us know that we could have taken a bite of the luscious apple, that if we had made that one wrong turn in life and given in to sensual desire (however fleeting), we too would have carried ourselves and our loved ones hurtling down a road that leads always to tragedy for someone in our life. If you haven't read this, I recommend this translation, in which Lydia Davis' prose is sublime, e.g.: Love, she believed, had to come, suddenly, with a great clap of thunder and a lightning flash, a tempest from heaven that falls upon your life, like a devastation, scatters your ideals like leaves and hurls your very soul into the abyss. Little did she know that up on the roof of the house, the rain will form a pool if the gutters are blocked, and there she would have stayed feeling safe inside, until one day she suddenly discovered the crack right down the wall. The novel was ground-breaking in several ways, not the least of which is the well and range of human emotions that ebb and flow through the reader while marveling at Flaubert's astounding attention to detail. Clunky translations of this novel in the past took away from the experience of the sadness, anger, disgust, contempt and pity that this translation so aesthetically accentuates. I highly recommend this translation if you haven't read this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Why are all the "great classics" lead by famed female heroines all too often about personal freedom thru means of sexual compromise leading to abject misery and ultimate demise? I realize it's an accurate depiction of culture and times, however why are Bovary and Moll Flanders the memorable matriarchs of classic literature? See my commentary on the Awakening for similar frustrations. Why aren't there more works about strong women making a difference in their own lives if not those of their famil Why are all the "great classics" lead by famed female heroines all too often about personal freedom thru means of sexual compromise leading to abject misery and ultimate demise? I realize it's an accurate depiction of culture and times, however why are Bovary and Moll Flanders the memorable matriarchs of classic literature? See my commentary on the Awakening for similar frustrations. Why aren't there more works about strong women making a difference in their own lives if not those of their families and communities? Why aren't we having young women read a work or 2 portraying a strong female who doesn't end up having an affair, committing suicided, or otherwise screwing up her own life and the lives of others as she sinks to the bottom where she inevitably belonged? Where are the strong, sentient heroines who might make feminists look slightly intelligent and/or inspirational?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Garima

    Her too-lofty dreams, her too-narrow house. We meet and greet different sorts of people; we greet and read different sorts of books. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jane Eyre. With her modest dreams and dignified living, it was easy to accept and love her. She was far from perfect but there was hardly a thing I would have changed about her. A fictional character of literature exemplifying the virtuous side of real life but she was not alone. There were some other characters surround Her too-lofty dreams, her too-narrow house. We meet and greet different sorts of people; we greet and read different sorts of books. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jane Eyre. With her modest dreams and dignified living, it was easy to accept and love her. She was far from perfect but there was hardly a thing I would have changed about her. A fictional character of literature exemplifying the virtuous side of real life but she was not alone. There were some other characters surrounding Jane who certainly struck a chord with me but the music thus created was not a soothing melody. The arrogant ways of Reed cousins and the vindictive streak in Bertha Mason’s love symbolized an unpleasant world which held within it afflictive but relevant stories. In one such story this year, I met Emma. But shouldn’t a man know everything, excel at a host of different activities, initiate you into the intensities of passion, the refinements of life, all its mysteries? Yet this man taught her nothing, knew nothing, wished for nothing. He thought she was happy; and she resented him for that settled calm, that ponderous serenity, that very happiness which she herself brought him. The Bored and Beautiful, Madame Bovary. We all probably know her. That naive little girl who doesn’t appreciate the toy in her hands because another child owns an artificial but glittering tiara. That reckless young woman who jots down a list of inordinate whims which could culminate into a glorious Happily Ever After when time comes. That unfortunate mature lady who finally realizes the vacuity of her air castles when it’s too late. Emma while single had imagination and anticipation; Ms. Bovary while married had perversity and passion. It was difficult to love and accept her but that’s precisely what I did- with a little help from Flaubert’s terrific writing and a little help from the world around me. Love and its vicious pleasures don’t spare anyone. Those pleasures when turned inside out, sometimes take the shape of eternal sufferings too. The difference possibly lies in the vacuum created out of being in love and the idea of being in love. Both can be fatal but I would like to believe that the latter is something that is bound to make a person delusional about oneself and everyone around. Emma tried to form a derisory bridge from her idea too, in a hope to reach an unknown destination she usually read in her books but eventually she suffered too. Where could she have learned this depravity, so deep and so dissembled that it was almost incorporeal? Why, from this society only. A society which thrives upon displaying its pretentious happiness and insists on concealing the perpetual sadness. A society which constantly invent ways of piling up the debt upon another person while wearing the sham of welfare. A society where another Madame Bovary, Emma’s mother-in-law, silently accepts her fateful marriage. Amidst all these lies, it’s no wonder that Emma learned something which was not worth learning at all. Flaubert, through his omniscience narration hasn’t passed any judgment or jumped to futile conclusions here. He has simply stated how people conduct their lives when materialism comes to the forefront of one’s mind. Love goes to hell in such cases. She was the beloved of every novel, the heroine of every drama, the vague she of every volume of poetry. Ah! The irony.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jibran

    Perhaps she would have liked to confide in someone about all these things. But how does one express an uneasiness so intangible, one that changes shape like a cloud, that changes direction like the wind? She lacked the words, the occasion, the courage. Some blame it on novels packed with sentimentalist kitsch; some point out her too-lofty dreams, her too-narrow house, so that the higher she raised the bar of happiness the harder it got to climb; some direct their anger at her reckless financial Perhaps she would have liked to confide in someone about all these things. But how does one express an uneasiness so intangible, one that changes shape like a cloud, that changes direction like the wind? She lacked the words, the occasion, the courage. Some blame it on novels packed with sentimentalist kitsch; some point out her too-lofty dreams, her too-narrow house, so that the higher she raised the bar of happiness the harder it got to climb; some direct their anger at her reckless financial transactions that put her family in bankruptcy; some are disappointed at the lack of her sense of duty towards her husband and the small child; some dub her a coward (view spoiler)[for committing suicide when her secrets were about to get out, renouncing the chutzpah that had propelled her to devise rash schemes (hide spoiler)] . In short, everyone thinks her as silly, stupid, selfish, vacuous, impulsive, unrealistic, et cetera, even an evil woman, [insert more abuse], bent on destroying herself and her family, echoing, in a way, Madame Tuvache's assertion that such women ought to be whipped. Many of us think Emma had no good excuse to set herself on a path to self-destruction, to which Flaubert might have replied: "None of you can see past your ideological filters." Amid this torrent of condemnation we conveniently fail to see in the mirror that which Flaubert, in his deadly neutral voice, shows us unflinchingly at every major turn of the story, by employing his sad and delectable repertoire of irony: the pretentious milieu that's trapped in appearances; those stiff-collared times that judged you by your complexion of wealth; that suffocating morality which hypocritically reinforced itself through the very structures it claimed to fight. But we still forget that she prayed for a son when she got pregnant. She did not even look at the baby girl when she was born with the wrong gender. This is how Emma wishes to abandon her womanhood to realise her illusory dream: She wanted a son; he would be strong and dark, she would call him Georges; and this idea of having a male child was a sort of hoped-for compensation for all her past helplessness. A man, at least, is free; he can explore every passion, every land, overcome obstacles, taste the most distant pleasures. But a woman is continually thwarted. Her will, like the veil tied to her hat by a string, flutters with every breeze; there is always some desire luring her on, some convention holding her back. Every woman today, in any corner of the world, who doesn’t want to give birth to a girl carries a little of Madame Bovary in her. Emma, for me, is a doleful shadow of her times who seems out of step precisely because she was possessed of an untamed intelligence and unbridled passion that could find no outlet in the restrictive channels available to her. If you allow me to quote a quatrain of Omar Khayyam: There was a door to which I found no key / There was a veil past which I could not see / Some little talk awhile of me and thee / There seemed, and then no more of thee and me. Emma’s inexorable and inevitable decline fits the metaphor of a river about to burst out of its banks with tsunamic abandon, destroying itself and everything in its wake, all without recourse to its own free will. In the greater scheme of things, however, Emma is a quest for absolute happiness, for wealth, for station, for recognition, that eludes humanity at its heart. Why, when we possess all the indicators of a reasonably happy life, we still feel the pangs of ennui like a spiritual victim of an equivalent of a Somali famine? Emma provides us with an answer, and this is where she becomes universal, revealing to us a truth about the human condition. In a brilliant moment of self-actualisation Emma sees her profile reflected in the mirror, her hands and eyes so large, so dark, so deep, and says to herself again and again: "I have a lover! A lover!” reveling in the thought as though she had come into a second puberty. At last she would possess those joys of love, that fever of happiness of which she had despaired. She was entering something marvelous in which all was passion, ecstasy, delirium. It turned out to be a mirage. Happiness did not come. Love did not last. She was rediscovering in adultery all the platitudes of marriage. No matter what Emma did or thought, whatever path she undertook, she could find no answer to the enigma of existence. But where does Mr Charles Bovary fit in all this? He ticks all the boxes of a “good husband” and a “good man.” He is moderately middle class, a respectable medical practitioner who loves his wife, does not argue with her, respects her personal choices, excuses her whimsical lifestyle. On paper, and before getting to know him, Charles is a husband any woman would want. But his conversation was as flat as a sidewalk, and everyone’s ideas walked along it in their ordinary clothes, without inspiring emotion, or laughter, or reverie. He makes love without passion, speaks without wit, walks without a gait, and displays no fascination for life. He is humourless; he has no personality. Simply put, Charles can’t make Emma laugh and Emma can’t stand his stupid face. For, after all, Charles was someone, always an open ear, always a ready approbation. She confided many secrets to her greyhound! She would have done the same to the logs in the fireplace and the pendulum of the clock. Charles listens to her like a pendulum of the clock or a log in the fireplace! Later, during a bout of disquietude she wished Charles would beat her, so that she could more justly detest him, avenge herself. Flaubert enthralls the reader with his clauses towed to long sentences with judicious deployment of semi colons along the way. The continuous ebb and flow of his prose has a soporific effect on the mind. He enriches an image with choice details to highlight the mood of the setting and of the character. You do not find a spurious detail that does not add something to the narrative. The writing is remarkably modern for its time, light and airy, so different from the suffocating formality of Victorian English. There are dozens of instances I can cite of Flaubert’s beautiful, balanced, brilliant prose, his use of irony that makes this novel what it is, but that would push this write-up beyond the confines of a review and make it an essay. Suffice it to say that the sheer variety of reaction to Emma Bovary is an emphatic tribute to Flaubert’s craft. All direct quotes in italics May 2015

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Ansbro

    "Like a sailor in distress, she would gaze out over the solitude of her life with desperate eyes, seeking some white sail in the mists of the far off horizon." It's always difficult to properly appraise a book when one hasn't read it in the language in which it was written. My edition was translated by Geoffrey Wall, who preserved Flaubert's distinctive habits of punctuation, italicisation and paragraphing. Though the overuse of exclamation marks is discouraged by modern-day publishers, Flaube "Like a sailor in distress, she would gaze out over the solitude of her life with desperate eyes, seeking some white sail in the mists of the far off horizon." It's always difficult to properly appraise a book when one hasn't read it in the language in which it was written. My edition was translated by Geoffrey Wall, who preserved Flaubert's distinctive habits of punctuation, italicisation and paragraphing. Though the overuse of exclamation marks is discouraged by modern-day publishers, Flaubert scatters them like seed. I’m all for it, as it added to the vibrancy of his writing. I read this classic at a leisurely pace, one chapter at a time, in between newfangled reads. I carefully jotted down notes and some well-chosen passages, intending to reproduce them here. Sadly, I unintentionally left my humidity-corrugated notepad by a pool in Thailand! : ( Emma (Madame Bovary), along with Lady Chatterley and Anna Karenina, is in the running for literature’s most famous adulteress. And in that respect, she doesn't disappoint. Defying convention, Flaubert deliberately chose to make his eponymous femme fatale unlikeable, which I see as a good thing: it makes her character believable; it makes her seem modern, and it shows how unfettered by tradition the author was. Emma "Drama Queen" Bovary, whose untamed heart rules her head, is trapped in a boring, frigid marriage and, without a care in the world, looks for love and lust elsewhere. In many ways, she behaves like a sex-hungry man who can’t keep it in his pants, except she’s living in patriarchal France in the 1800s! Of course, when a literary character plays with fire, you just know they’re gonna get burnt! Yes, Emma is shallow and selfish and wants what she can't have but, because she is a flawed human being, wholly driven by sentimentality, I sympathised with her. Translations notwithstanding, I really enjoyed Flaubert’s anomalous writing style and luxuriant prose but, for me, this isn't the page-turner that Anna Karenina is.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    The first reading of this novel does no justice to its original intended effect. The book must be reread especially if it was first encountered when the reader’s life was still devoid of romance. Not until the second time around do the details linger, memorably, and the speedy plot that Part One promised is detained for the remaining Parts Two & Three which include photographically-intense colors and emotions felt (or, even not felt at all) by Emma Bovary. The plot is carefully-crafted; it i The first reading of this novel does no justice to its original intended effect. The book must be reread especially if it was first encountered when the reader’s life was still devoid of romance. Not until the second time around do the details linger, memorably, and the speedy plot that Part One promised is detained for the remaining Parts Two & Three which include photographically-intense colors and emotions felt (or, even not felt at all) by Emma Bovary. The plot is carefully-crafted; it is bookmarked by the lives of the secondary characters, as if Mme. Bovary is the (literal) center meanwhile her dilemma is a more private one: that lives go on before (the education and upbringing of the incompetent man that will be her husband) & after (the deaths of the members of the Bovary clan, the success of M. Homais) the actual core means that the world at large is indifferent to her & her tale is almost wholly forgotten, swallowed up. Here for the reader’s consideration is a full life. Perhaps “robust” would not be a correct adjective to describe a life of desperation and woe. Emma Bovary is human because she is not all good nor all evil. She is materialistic but also idealistic. Wife and lover. Belonging nowhere, like a character born at the most inadequate of times. Like Oedipus with the Oracle, however, she is knowledgeable of the fate that is in store for adulteresses. The plot has plunges and heights, a spectrum that is available to anyone belonging to the human race. The pathos comes from all the chains Bovary must break to become free, and the further entanglement of her emotions complicate matters. Mme Bovary does not commit suicide with arsenic because of monetary problems. The title is perfect since it is itself a title: Madame Bovary. There are several Madame Bovarys in the book, including Charles’s first wife and his mother. She is called Emma when she is free, when her identity becomes her own & she is dehumanized no longer, especially not by the sympathetic reader. Who can escape their position in society, their gender, their duties, their fate? Rodolphe tells Emma: “if two poor souls should finally come together, everything is organized to prevent them from uniting. Still they try, they beat their wings, they call out to one another.” It's this attempt which makes Madame Bovary a classic, modern tragedy where a soul is doomed because she feels everything, yet is only able to express the most minimal. Emma Bovary is in love with the notion of love, the conventions are her ideals, & she is nevertheless brave to at least try.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Moira posted a terrific review of Rabbit Redux the other day, and it made me realise something I should have noticed years ago. Rabbit Angstrom is Emma Bovary's literary grandson! As Moira says, Updike was deeply influenced by Nabokov, a fact that had somehow passed me by. Nabokov, in his turn, was a disciple of Flaubert; he famously said that he'd read all Flaubert, in the original French, by the time he was 14. So the family tree is clear enough. It's one of those cases, though, where things ha Moira posted a terrific review of Rabbit Redux the other day, and it made me realise something I should have noticed years ago. Rabbit Angstrom is Emma Bovary's literary grandson! As Moira says, Updike was deeply influenced by Nabokov, a fact that had somehow passed me by. Nabokov, in his turn, was a disciple of Flaubert; he famously said that he'd read all Flaubert, in the original French, by the time he was 14. So the family tree is clear enough. It's one of those cases, though, where things have sort of skipped a generation. It's not hard to see that the three authors are stylistically close. But Flaubert and Updike are both ultra-naturalistic and Nabokov is not, and Nabokov also has quite a different take on psychology compared to the other two. So you don't immediately link Updike to Flaubert, or at least I didn't; though I do remember, at least once, defending Rabbit by comparing him with Emma. It seemed somehow like a reasonable comparison, but I'd thought it was just a chance resemblance. Now that I have the missing link, it's all painfully obvious. The central characters in both stories are marked by early experiences which give them exaggerated hopes of what they can expect out of life; Rabbit is a high-school basketball star, and Emma attends the unfortunate ball at the château La Vaubyessard. After this, everything is a disappointment to them, and they find life with their respective partners, Janice and Charles, dull and stultifying. Their sense of frustration drives them into increasingly disastrous sexual liaisons, which eventually kill them and destroy several other lives as well. Flaubert makes no obvious attempt to judge Emma, which led to many of his contemporaries denouncing the book as wicked, immoral and even obscene, charges which are often applied to Updike for similar reasons; many American readers today dislike Rabbit as much as late nineteenth century French readers disliked Emma. To me, these criticisms are completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not Rabbit and Madame Bovary are great books. We see Emmas and Rabbits all around us; ignoring the novels is hardly going to make them go away. And the language is so delightful, especially Flaubert's. I'm in the middle of reading Madame Bovary for the third time. Emma has just met Rodolphe: he's put together a crude but effective seduction strategy, which he's already starting to implement. As usual, I'm willing her not to fall for him, but I don't think it's going to work out the way I want it to. Poor Emma. _______________________________________________ Finished. It's an almost perfect book, that you can read any number of times. Here are some of my favourite passages. The trashy novels that Emma reads when she's feeling depressed during the early years of her marriage:Ce n'étaient qu'amours, amants, amantes, dames persécutées s'évanouissant dans des pavillons solitaires, postillons qu'on tue à tous les relais, chevaux qu'on crève à toutes les pages, forêts sombres, troubles du coeur, serments, sanglots, larmes et baisers, nacelles au clair de lune, rossignols dans les bosquets, messieurs braves comme des lions, doux comme des agneaux, vertueux comme on ne l'est pas, toujours bien mis, et qui pleurent comme des urnes.MM. Bournisien and Homais watch over Emma's corpse, while squabbling with each other:Le pharmacien et le curé se replongèrent dans leurs occupations, non sans dormir de temps à autre, ce dont ils s'accusaient réciproquement à chaque réveil nouveau. Alors M. Bournisien aspergeait la chambre d'eau bénite et Homais jetait un peu de chlore par terre.Rodolphe finishes his break-up letter:-- Comment vais-je signer, maintenant? se dit-il. Votre tout dévoué?... Non. Votre ami?... Oui, c'est cela. «Votre ami.» Il relut sa lettre. Elle lui parut bonne. -- Pauvre petite femme! pensa-t-il avec attendrissement. Elle va me croire plus insensible qu'un roc; il eût fallu quelques larmes là-dessus; mais, moi, je ne peux pas pleurer; ce n'est pas ma faute. Alors, s'étant versé de l'eau dans un verre, Rodolphe y trempa son doigt et il laissa tomber de haut une grosse goutte, qui fit une tache pâle sur l'encre; puis, cherchant à cacheter la lettre, le cachet Amor nel cor se rencontra. -- Cela ne va guère à la circonstance... Ah bah! n'importe! Après quoi, il fuma trois pipes et s'alla coucher.And a little earlier, this, which I think is simply one of the most heartbreaking paragraphs ever written.Il s'était tant de fois entendu dire ces choses, qu'elles n'avaient pour lui rien d'original. Emma ressemblait à toutes les maîtresses; et le charme de la nouveauté, peu à peu tombant comme un vêtement, laissait voir à nu l'éternelle monotonie de la passion, qui a toujours les mêmes formes et le même langage. Il ne distinguait pas, cet homme si plein de pratique, la dissemblance des sentiments sous la parité des expressions. Parce que des lèvres libertines ou vénales lui avaient murmuré des phrases pareilles, il ne croyait que faiblement à la candeur de celles-là; on en devait rabattre, pensait-il, les discours exagérés cachant les affections médiocres; comme si la plénitude de l'âme ne débordait pas quelquefois par les métaphores les plus vides, puisque personne, jamais, ne peut donner l'exacte mesure de ses besoins, ni de ses conceptions, ni de ses douleurs, et que la parole humaine est comme un chaudron fêlé où nous battons des mélodies à faire danser les ours, quand on voudrait attendrir les étoiles.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vessey

    I dedicate this review to my dear friends Will, Jeffrey and Sidharth, whose wise words have always inspired me SPOILERS "Did she not seem to be passing through life scarcely touching it, and to bear on her brow the vague impress of some divine destiny? She was so sad and so calm, at once so gentle and so reserved, that near her one felt oneself seized by an icy charm...But she was eaten up with desires, with rage, with hate. That dress with the narrow folds hid a distracted heart, of whose tormen I dedicate this review to my dear friends Will, Jeffrey and Sidharth, whose wise words have always inspired me SPOILERS "Did she not seem to be passing through life scarcely touching it, and to bear on her brow the vague impress of some divine destiny? She was so sad and so calm, at once so gentle and so reserved, that near her one felt oneself seized by an icy charm...But she was eaten up with desires, with rage, with hate. That dress with the narrow folds hid a distracted heart, of whose torment those chaste lips said nothing." If Emma Bovary had been born into another century, into our century, she could have been a great artist. It is arguable whether she has the talent, but she certainly has the soul. Her weakness could have been her strength in our times. Unfortunately, she lived in the XIX century society that didn’t encourage her sensitiveness, her gentleness, her highly emotional and romantic nature. Instead, she lived in one that did not tolerate passion, assertiveness and freedom of spirit and mind in women. (Her father sees her as useless and instead of trying to help her grow, develop, he is only too quick to find her a husband, and this husband and his mother go as far as forbidding her to read novels) When we long to be understood, to be happy, to be connected, we also long to be seen. For someone else to see what we ourselves cannot or don’t want to see. Sometimes we live on the edge of self-discovery and we only need a gentle push into the right direction. Emma waited, hopes to be saved, to be discovered, to be helped. Like all of us, she longes to be noticed and appreciated. "At the bottom of her heart she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. Each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow." However, all those rudiments that could have resulted into something wonderful, were molded into something destructive. She is too obsessed, too possessed by her desires. Her romantic nature dives her to harsh judgementalism, she is condemned and renounces everyone and everything that falls short of her idea of perfection. She is a woman incapable of seeing nuances. She is a woman of extremities. Even her feelings are such. Both her joys and disappointments are to the max. "Accustomed to calm aspects of life, she turned to those of excitement. She loved the sea only for the sake of its storms, and the green fields only when broken up by ruins. She wanted to get some personal profit out of things, and she rejected as useless all that did not contribute to the immediate desires of her heart, being of a temperament more sentimental than artistic, looking for emotions, not landscapes." Would she have been happier had she found what she was looking for? And what does she for? A man with the imagination and passion her husband lacks and with the loyalty and trustworthiness her lovers fail to provide. One might argue that Charles offers her at least the latter. But I don’t think so. Does he want her to be happy? Yes. Des he love her? Very much so. But love and connection aren’t the same thing. She condemnd him for being so very far away from her ideal and he condemnes her by failing to be interested into the inner workings and struggles of her soul. He isn't even aware of them. He is a man satisfying himself with the ostensible. He isn't a man of deep thoughts and desires. This simplicity partially takes a good direction, because it results into a calm, amiable, trusting and optimistic nature, into a man needing a little to be happy. He is easily content. He is a man in denial. A man who needs a hurricane to wake him up. To me the two of them, while miles away from each other in other ways, are very much alike in their inability to see nuances. They are equally blind, equally self-absorbed. And they mutually destroy each other. "Charles’s conversation was commonplace as a street pavement, and every one’s ideas trooped through it in their everyday garb, without exciting emotion, laughter, or thought. A man, on the contrary, should he not know everything, excel in manifold activities, initiate you into the energies of passion, the refinements of life, all mysteries? But this one taught nothing, knew nothing, wished nothing. He thought her happy; and she resented this easy calm, this serene heaviness, the very happiness she gave him...If he had but wished it, if he had guessed it, if his look had but once met her thought, it seemed to her that a sudden plenty would have gone out from her heart, as the fruit falls from a tree when shaken by a hand. But as the intimacy of their life became deeper, the greater became the gulf that separated her from him." The same could be said for Rodolphe, who is too lost in his idea of women being weak, superficial and undeserving of his loyalty and affection. He falls in love with her, but fights with this love and his desire to give into it until the end. "Because lips libertine and venal had murmured such words to him, he believed but little in the candour of hers; exaggerated speeches hiding mediocre affections must be discounted; as if the fulness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in the emptiest metaphors, since human speech is like a cracked tin kettle, on which we hammer out tunes to make bears dance when we long to move the stars." He does not want to believe that Emma draws from a deeper well. Maybe too deep. Yet, would she have been happy had he stayed by her side, had he taken her away from her unhappy, lifeless marriage? I doubt it. "She did not know if she regretted having yielded to him, or whether she did not wish, on the contrary, to enjoy him the more. The humiliation of feeling herself weak was turning to rancour, tempered by their voluptuous pleasures. It was not affection; it was like a continual seduction. He subjugated her; she almost feared him." When we are too fixated on some purpose, if we reject everything and everyone else that falls short from the image we carry within ourselves, even if we do achieve our dream, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the result. I have always believed that our ability to appreciate the grand things is build upon our ability to cherish the little ones. The two feed off each other. Is the ultimate goal the only goal? It is so for her. Only in the end, on her deathbed, she reveals a deeper, calmer, more compassionate, more conscientious side of her, which only shows that had she been given a chance, she could have been someone very, very different. "So she had done, she thought, with all the treachery, and meanness, and numberless desires that had tortured her. She hated no one now; a twilight dimness was settling upon her thoughts, and, of all earthly noises, she heard none but the intermittent lamentations of this poor heart, sweet and distinct like the echo of a symphony dying away." We breathe life into others through both our happiness and our sorrow. We are always open to the former, but seldom to the latter. I see this book as one illustrating what happens to women stuck into society that suppresses them, smothers them, that pushes them into a corner and leaves them there to rot. Another person’s misery can be our own awakening. However, there are many who, like the characters in this novel, always choose to look the other way. And there are many who see human heart as something to step on and human misery as something to build upon. We all strive to build ourselves strong, but many believe that the best way to do so is by closing their hearts to human weakness and pain, including their own. But I believe that, just as if we don’t possess the capacity to appreciate the little things, the imperfections, we cannot appreciate the extraordinary, if we don’t let ourselves feel the pain, if we devoid ourselves of empathy, we deny ourselves happiness as well. My friend Will has told me more than once “It is important to let yourself feel the pain” My friend Jeffrey has told me "It is both weakness and strength' And my friend Sidharth has told me more than once, to be sensitive is to be vulnerable, but it is also to be alive. I believe that we are truly alive only when we have something/someone we would die for. Read count: 1

  22. 4 out of 5

    Khush

    One can read this novel as many times as one likes. Each time I find new 'things' in it. Since so much has been written about this book that I re-read it again. I reflect on what I have read, feel mesmerized and intrigued by the text. Of course, I take other writers' critique on this book seriously. There is this whole body of work that rests on Flaubert's writing. I have read less of Flaubert, but I read a lot about him. It seems like one cannot talk about writing without talking about him. Som One can read this novel as many times as one likes. Each time I find new 'things' in it. Since so much has been written about this book that I re-read it again. I reflect on what I have read, feel mesmerized and intrigued by the text. Of course, I take other writers' critique on this book seriously. There is this whole body of work that rests on Flaubert's writing. I have read less of Flaubert, but I read a lot about him. It seems like one cannot talk about writing without talking about him. Some of these writing on him are exemplary because they themselves read like literature. Flaubert himself has written reams of his own grueling struggles with the written word, his endless endeavors to get 'it' right – a word, a line, a paragraph– went on for days. If I remember right he said somewhere that he wants to write a book about 'nothing' – a great ambition, indeed. He supposedly intended to write something so that form and content merge fully and produce an effect one only gets from the purest form of music. All these exquisite pursuits of Flaubert do get reflected in Madame Bovary. However, if I leave out what he has achieved in his writings, and just focus on his characters, I find it hard not to question certain aspects of MB. Since the reputation of this book is so formidable, one hesitates to say what one Really thinks about this book. For instance, right in the first chapter, we see Charles on his first day at school. He acts in a ludicrous manner and attracts negative attention from his teacher and classmates. A few pages later, we see him married and practicing his profession. He marries a woman older than himself, anything but for love. Charles becomes even more irritating when one sees him visiting Emma's house to treat her father. These visits are taken so often and with such passionate urgencies that I find it hard to believe that it is the same man whom I saw as a boy on his first day at school. Here with Emma, he seems more like a character from 'Lawrence.' He mildly exudes something of 'Vronsky' from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Emma on the other hand, at least in the beginning, could be someone from George Eliot: a farmer's daughter, simple, hardworking, and responsible. And as we know her more, especially after marrying Charles, she is completely transformed. The farmer's daughter now has airs of someone from Jane Austen. As the novel unfolds, toward the second half of the book, she becomes full-fledged Anna Karenina of Tolstoy except that Anna in the hands of Tolstoy always remains Anna from the start till she dies, just like Vronksy remains Vronsky till the end. As we see more and more of Emma, we see Charles almost receding, and again resembling the boy that we saw on his first day at school. Now it is not the Charles who married his first wife for practical purposes, it is not the same Charles who almost seduced Emma and took her as his wife after the death of his first wife. Going through all this requires certain qualities (or a certain slyness), a certain character that hardly matches with his post-marriage life with Emma. He was absolutely oblivious to Emma's manipulations, to her cheating. Half through the book, I felt like I am in another country. The early Emma has gone, the early Charles transformed. Am I reading the same book? Some situations are so difficult to believe because they appear contrived. Emma repeatedly gets beguiled by men who, in one way or the other, resemble the super attractive heroes of literature– let us say all these charmers, who chase Emma in MB, remind, to varying degrees, Vronsky of Anna Karenina. However, in Flaubert, the stylistic features take over the characterization. The only one way in which I have enjoyed MB is to read it for its lines and paragraphs. One must not think about who is doing what, who is saying what, and asking oneself if this is real. How can this be? Why cannot Emma do this? How can the doctor Charles be so foolish? One has to avoid all that in order to enjoy the book. Maybe that was what Flaubert set out to achieve in the first place. He wanted us to notice him, only Him. And we did.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Emma is bored. Emma always dream better than it is: better together, best bride, best loved, most celebrated - richer, more adorned. Emma gets poisoned: her dreams undermine her, her dreams ruin her, her dreams deceive her, her dreams end up poisoning her. Around it gravitated a small Norman and village world heavily weighted with reality: Homais the agnostic pharmacist, Bournisien the parish priest of the village, Lheureux the mercier with the dangerous credits, Léon Dupuis, the notary clerk who Emma is bored. Emma always dream better than it is: better together, best bride, best loved, most celebrated - richer, more adorned. Emma gets poisoned: her dreams undermine her, her dreams ruin her, her dreams deceive her, her dreams end up poisoning her. Around it gravitated a small Norman and village world heavily weighted with reality: Homais the agnostic pharmacist, Bournisien the parish priest of the village, Lheureux the mercier with the dangerous credits, Léon Dupuis, the notary clerk who has some varnish of culture, Rodolphe Boulanger the landowner has some polish luxure- and Charles, of course, poor Charles, the brave Charles, husband, village doctor, former medical officer mounted default rank, and madly in love with his wife. Some servants, again, of the peasants, strong of their lands and cows, bitter and hard-working, and a little girl, Berthe, with whom Emma plays for a time with the doll, and neglect, and that will eventually downgraded, working. A more obscure galaxy... Far from this little rustic galaxy, and rubbing rarely and inadvertently with it, that of the local little nobility: provincial squires, full of morgue, gloves, cravats and horses, who know how to dance the waltz without crushing feet, pick up the range with a gracious gesture and kiss the hand of a lady without touching the lips .. Only one character escapes this realistic framework, this sociological study that is both sarcastic and detached: it is the Blind, straight out of the world of symbols, a little Tiresias, a little Heurtebise, tragic and grotesque, whose three included appearances as the three blows of fate Emma, announcing his moral loss and financial and finally his death. Emma - as ridiculous as she is with her midinette readings, her ill-digested dreams of romantic petty bourgeoisie, her filthy egoism and her distressing naivety - Emma, then, is the only free electron of this well-ordered cosmogony. She dares to throw herself into the sidereal vacuum of inter-galactic relations - between peasants and bourgeois, between bourgeois and landlords, between men and women. She dares to want other than she is, that she is not destined to be, she dares to pretend to give body to her dreams... She brave what they say, risk the prey for the shadow, put all her happiness on a mediocre or a goujat, compromises, for a cloth moirée or damask, all its social success... Of course, there is more pathos than grandeur, to be lacking in this point of discernment ... But all the others around her are so petty, strong with their certainties and their choices that they draw a Humanity of mediocre satisfied perfectly repulsive. And if Flaubert makes us love Emma in spite of or with all her faults, it is because Madame Bovary is he: he said it and proved... Just read the pages on the ball at the Vaubyessard: a true intimacy is revealed with the female perspective. Flaubert becomes a woman, a woman. It's confusing! I would add that it is also a great precursor of cinematographic language: the parallel running of the agricultural comics and the flirting scene supported by Rodolphe presents itself as the scenario of a cinematographic counterpoint. Ironic effect tenfold! Still other reasons for reading and re-reading Madame Bovary? Because it takes a lot of talent to ironize without being insensitive, to be realistic without being down-to-earth, to denounce the toxicity of the romantic dream and at the same time proclaim the vital necessity of living his dreams: Emma dies of his dreams but only when she realizes she no longer has.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Renato Magalhães Rocha

    When I start reading a book named after one of its characters, I simply can't help the anxiety to meet them. In this case, I was impatient to finally get acquainted with Madame Bovary. Instead of that, on the opening chapter, we get to see Charles Bovary, the peaceful and shy little boy going to school for the first time. We accompany him while he grows up, study to become a 'doctor' and marry his first wife. After a series of events, he finds and marries his second wife - this time the one - and When I start reading a book named after one of its characters, I simply can't help the anxiety to meet them. In this case, I was impatient to finally get acquainted with Madame Bovary. Instead of that, on the opening chapter, we get to see Charles Bovary, the peaceful and shy little boy going to school for the first time. We accompany him while he grows up, study to become a 'doctor' and marry his first wife. After a series of events, he finds and marries his second wife - this time the one - and the story's protagonist finally takes center stage. Flaubert presents to us on his biggest achievement the story of Emma Bovary - the always sad, sorrowful and never quite fulfilled female Don Quixote (read my review)- who, through her reading of love stories in books and Parisian society's glamorous events on newspapers, hoped for a more exciting married life than what it seemed to be destined for her. Madame Bovary - who did not love her husband, or her daughter, or her home - was tragically in love with the possibility of a different scenario, and was willing to trade everything for being able to feel and go through breathtaking emotions. Beginning to grow unsatisfied and longing for a hero who would rescue her from her uneventful life, she ends up getting tangled up in a big web of lies, financial debts and cheating with not only one, but two lovers. The excitement of what seemed to be the real life she dreamed of ends up fading out, and finding herself even more lost and lonely than she felt before, she embarks on her ultimate escapade. Worthy mentioning - and an innovation at the time - is an impressively well crafted scene where Emma and her lover Rodolphe are alone, declaring bit by bit their love to each other for the first time, while, in the meantime, they can (and we can!) overhear the events happening outside on an Agricultural Fair at the village. We get to read, concurrently, the lover's declarations and M. Lieuvain's speech. This technique worked well for building up the readers' (at least this reader's!) enthusiasm and thrill felt when that long awaited moment where we would finally see Emma happy happened. The novel's impact was so huge that Gustave Flaubert was actually taken to trial for having written such an immoral book. Don't worry though: he was deservingly so acquitted of all charges. Its impact came not only because of the story itself, but also from the author's innovations and style: Madame Bovary - unlike most (maybe all?) novels from that time - totally lacks any personal commentaries or interventions from Flaubert; what we read is simply the report of the character's words and actions, leaving to us the task to try to make sense of their most inner feelings and actions. Rating: for Flaubert's literary innovations, his beautiful yet sad story and how it was skillfully constructed, 4 stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Parthiban Sekar

    Why was her life so inadequate? Why did everything she leaned on instantly crumble into dust? These were the questions tormenting Emma (Madame Bovary) in her solitude that she never expected to exist in her nuptial life of which she dreamed. Yet, the gaps widened. The barriers grew stronger. "A man, at least is free; he can explore the whole range of the passions, go wherever he likes, overcome obstacles, savor the most exotic pleasures. But a woman is constantly thwarted. Inert and pliable, she Why was her life so inadequate? Why did everything she leaned on instantly crumble into dust? These were the questions tormenting Emma (Madame Bovary) in her solitude that she never expected to exist in her nuptial life of which she dreamed. Yet, the gaps widened. The barriers grew stronger. "A man, at least is free; he can explore the whole range of the passions, go wherever he likes, overcome obstacles, savor the most exotic pleasures. But a woman is constantly thwarted. Inert and pliable, she is restricted by her physical weakness and her legal subjection. Her will, like the veil tied to her hat with a cord, quivers with every wind; there is always some desire urging her forward, always some convention holding her back." The solitude, she was forced to invent for her, had soon become unbearable. Is it the city life she was longing for? There are traces to positively acknowledge this question. But this is not the reason for the entirety of her distress. There must be something or someone she is really longing for. "Don’t you know there are some souls that are constantly tormented? They need dreams and action, one after the other, the purest passions, the most frenzied pleasures, and it leads them to throw themselves into all sorts of fantasies and follies." Was she a sacrifice to her marriage? A woman who had imposed such great sacrifices on herself certainly had a right to indulge in a few whims. She remembered the adulterous women from novels she read and their amorous adventures, imagining herself to be the heroine of her romantic adultery and victimizing herself to "Women like that ought to be horsewhipped!". But fantasies fooled her. Follies tormented her. Alas! Heroes left her, once they grew tired of her feminine refinements. "Would this misery last forever? Was there no escape from it? And yet she was certainly just as good as all those other women whose lives were happy! She had seen duchesses at * who had dumpier figures and cruder manners than she, and she cursed God’s injustice..." Is she to be blamed for her distress? Are not those princely guys who entered her life, uninvited, and ravished her dreams, even distantly responsible for her self-torment? or Can we just call it as an ill-fate of a wretched soul? The author strictly prohibits you from drawing any conclusion or even making any inference from this story brimming with sad tears which touch the nuptial rings on the delicate fingers of the fragile beings. This is just the account of Madame Bovary. The ordeals of poor Monsieur Bovary are inexpressibly sad. Hence, better not expressed in words or emotions or any form. God save their daughter Berthe! Period! Movie - Warning: Please don't see the movie and underrate this excellent book. It is really disgusting how someone can badly mess up a story like this one. I just don't get it. You have a written script and why can't you make a movie as it is? or If you want to change the story totally or make it meaningless, why to use the title? Meh! I would happily call this movie as "Confessions of a shopaholic - 2" or something like that, given a chance. Notes on translation I didn't find any major difference between the translation of Geoffrey Wall (Penguin Classics) and Lydia Davis (Penguin Deluxe). However, Davis' translation is found to be easier to read and have better words at certain important places. But, when it comes to the question of paying more (Deluxe Editions are expensive. At least, here in my country, they are!) for a better widely acclaimed translation, I have to say that I am little disappointed. Neverthless, it is a keeper!

  26. 5 out of 5

    İntellecta

    Madame Bovary is Gustav Flaubert's most famous novel and realistically tells the story and the sinking of a young woman. The subtle language, the characteristic detailed descriptions let you dive into a completely different world. And even if the story comes from a completely different time, there are so many parallels to ours. There are many possibilities for interpretation and also the psychological aspect is not neglected. Madame Bovary's story, especially when you consider the time the novel Madame Bovary is Gustav Flaubert's most famous novel and realistically tells the story and the sinking of a young woman. The subtle language, the characteristic detailed descriptions let you dive into a completely different world. And even if the story comes from a completely different time, there are so many parallels to ours. There are many possibilities for interpretation and also the psychological aspect is not neglected. Madame Bovary's story, especially when you consider the time the novel was written. He was a scandal then. There was even a trial. Despite its age, the book is timeless and therefore always up-to-date. If you are interested in French culture, you should have a look at this exciting book. Gustave Flaubert is one of the most brilliant authors of his time, whose genius and complexity is also reflected in this book. If, however, one takes a deeper look at the novel, one discovers the many parallels and understands the skill of the author, who tries to portray the image of society at that time. Absolutely worth reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classics" for the first time, then determine whether or not they deserve the label. Madame Bovary is book #26 of the series. The story in a nutshell: Considered by nearly everyone to be one of the best novels ever written, French cynic Gustave Flaubert's 1857 Madame Bovary (originally published serially in 1856) is one of the first fiction projects in history to be as much a deep "character study" as a vehicle for simply propelling an exciting pl The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classics" for the first time, then determine whether or not they deserve the label. Madame Bovary is book #26 of the series. The story in a nutshell: Considered by nearly everyone to be one of the best novels ever written, French cynic Gustave Flaubert's 1857 Madame Bovary (originally published serially in 1856) is one of the first fiction projects in history to be as much a deep "character study" as a vehicle for simply propelling an exciting plot; it is an ultra-detailed look at an ultra-complex person, the Emma Bovary (nee Rouault) of the book's title, where the whole point is not just to learn what happens to her but what makes her tick in general. Because make no mistake, Bovary is one of the most complicated characters in the history of literature too, still able to ignite passionate arguments among fans to this day: some see her as a clearly sympathetic and very typical woman, forced into a whole series of awkward situations by a whole series of incompetent men in her life, just like such dunderheads have been doing to smart females for centuries; while others see her more like an unmedicated sufferer of bipolar disorder, constantly flip-flopping on what she wants out of life depending on what in particular she doesn't happen to have that particular moment, constantly adding unneeded drama to her life when bored and treating pretty much every single person around her like complete crap. Raised in a convent, a lover of erotica, desirous of an expensive urban lifestyle yet not very smart about money, it is this dichotomy of traits that keeps Bovary careening from one radically different situation to the next: first falling hard for her father's roving rural doctor (full-time "good guy" and hence impotent cuckold Charles Bovary), thinking that their marriage will finally bring her the sophisticated Paris life she's always dreamed of; then trying and failing at a domestic life as a small-town wife and mother, after it becomes clear that Charles prefers the dowdy provincial life of the northern French farmlands, leading to a hot-and-cold emotional affair with a young law student there named Leon; then a move to essentially one of the first large "suburbs" in France's history (the fictional mid-sized Yonville, not too far from Paris by carriage or rail, based on the real-life suburb of Ry), where she embarks on a much more serious affair with a major hater-playah named Rodolph; then an unceremonial dumping by Rodolph, after she offers to leave her husband for him and bring the kid along, leading to a short period again in her life as a pious born-again Christian; with all of that followed believe it or not by a reacquaintance with the now successful young urban lawyer Leon, leading to a sexually explicit "hotel afternoons in the big city" affair (the part of the book that led to its infamous obscenity trial when it first came out); which then finally leads to an ending whose details I'll leave a surprise, but let's just say results in ruin and/or death for nearly every freaking person involved. Oh, those French and their happy endings! The argument for it being a classic: Madame Bovary established so many firsts, its fans will argue, it's sometimes scary: not just the first novel ever to be written in the modern, pared-down "conversational tone" we know today, not just one of the first novels to complexly combine both character and plot development equally in one manuscript, but also one of the very first novels in history to establish the "Realist" school of thought, a set of conventions which now guide almost all contemporary novels being written (but more on that in a bit), all while ironically being a perfect example of a Victorian-Age Romantic novel as well, and of containing all the hallmarks that fans of Romanticism look for even while making vicious fun of them too. In fact, this book is almost like a freaky artifact from a future time that shouldn't actually exist, if you want to get technical about it; a book that reads exactly like a contemporary mainstream-lit character study, but published at the same time as the severely overwritten, overwrought, epistolary-style adventure tales and pseudo-science babble much more typical of the mid-1800s. It's not just important as a historical artifact (but more on that in a bit too), not just seminal to the arts in about a half-dozen different ways, but is still a surprisingly great read even 152 years later; nearly every novel being written today owes one aspect of its form or another to this ultra-important precedent, fans argue, making it the very definition of a literary "classic" that should still be picked up by every lover of great books out there. The argument against: Ironically, the only criticisms of Madame Bovary I could find seemed to argue that the book is just too well-written; that Flaubert created such a hyper-realistic emotional trainwreck, they ended up disgusted by her and couldn't even finish. "Ugh, that Emma, I can't stand her, she's so despicable," I saw one online critique after another say, none of these people apparently realizing that that's the whole point; that the entire purpose of this book existing is to present this ultra-flawed, many times legitimately despicable character, to examine what motivates her and how she can be so sympathetic at times too, to understand ourselves better and especially those parts of our own personalities we share with her. My verdict: So how exactly should we feel about Emma Bovary, anyway? Well, to ponder that question is to avoid the much more remarkable point -- that Flaubert managed to create such a magnificently complicated creature to begin with, one who can still inspire such enflamed debates about her character a full century and a half later. (And by the way, how dispiriting to finally learn that Tom Perrotta's novel Little Children, which I highly favorably reviewed here in 2007, owes much of its success to a rather literal rip-off of many of Madame Bovary's key points, all the way down to sometimes stealing entire scenes beat-for-beat. Sheesh, no wonder Perrotta's follow-up The Abstinence Teacher was such a miserable stinker; he had no seminal semi-forgotten public-domain classic to lean on that time.) Not to mention, concentrating on Bovary's sometimes abhorrent behavior ignores a much more important point -- that every single character in this novel is abhorrent, done so by Flaubert very deliberately. Let's not forget, the book is set in the years of France's so-called "July Monarchy," which in a simplified nutshell saw the creation for the first time in history of middle-class suburbanites; and like every other bitter artist in history, Flaubert despised middle-class suburbanites with every fiber of his being, and meant in many ways for Madame Bovary to be a devastating indictment of them all -- from the schizophrenic Emma to the facile Charles, from the jealous village pharmacist Homais to the weasely neighborhood merchant Lheureux. Let's always remember that Flaubert worked for decades on an epic called Bouvard and Pecuchet, which he always considered his perpetually-unfinished masterpiece; but that when it was finally released to the public posthumously in 1881, it turned out to be not much more than a massive unfocused rant, a grand satire concerning the utterly pathetic mediocrity of most human beings and the utter folly of ever thinking we will learn anything by studying history. Now that's a bitter French artist, my friend. But if this weren't enough, there's also the matter of the utterly remarkable language and structure used, which I now know for a personal fact because of doing this CCLaP 100 series is just so profoundly unlike any of the other novels that were being published at the same time; it really does feel like some freaky anomaly that shouldn't actually exist, snatched from the 1930s during the height of Early Modernism and somehow by time-machine accidentally left behind in the middle of the Victorian Age. (And even more remarkably, Flaubert himself wasn't particularly prolific or well-known, only finishing three other novels besides Bovary and all of them obscure even during his own lifetime.) This is why you hear so many people rave about this book's style, because it really is a perfect example of what the French call seeking le mot juste ("just the right word"); there are passages on display here that can instantly transport you in just a few paragraphs to a misty early evening in 19th-century northern rural France, before you even realize what's going on or that you'd left in the first place. And all of a sudden you've missed your bus, and you're standing on the streetcorner cursing Flaubert for being such an astounding writer in the first place. It's remarkable, I think, that this book lays the entire groundwork for the Realist school of literary thought, a full 50 years before Henry James and others even first came up with the English version of the term, and like I said nearly every mainstream-lit novel written today gets at least some of its cues from it; because much like the "Socratic method," Realism has become so permeated in our culture that we don't even realize anymore that that's what it is when we see it, with the entire thing essentially boiling down to the idea of writing stories in a "realistic" fashion, as if we were invisible ghosts hovering over the shoulders of the characters and quietly observing the events of the story as they actually happen (now known as "omniscient narration," and the basis behind 95 percent of all novels written). But it's also true what its fans say, that it doubles as a perfect Romantic novel too, a different school of literary thought with goals that sometimes clash with those of Realism; like the best of Victorian-Age literature, Madame Bovary too places great emphasis on emotions, feelings, passion, madness, and all the other great hallmarks of being an alive human being, and also like all great Victorian novels it too features as a character a buffoonish adherent of rationalism (in this case, the constantly pontificating pharmacist Homais), a holdover "true believer" from the 1700s Enlightenment who both the Romantics and Realists could agree on regarding their mutual hatred. (Stupid fun-hating scientists!) Although I'm only about a quarter of the way through the CCLaP 100 as of the writing of this particular review, I think it's safe to say that this is going to turn out to be one of my absolute favorites of the entire series, and it's simply astonishing in my opinion how well it's held up now over the last 150-odd years. It's a standard-bearer for sure of this entire series, one of only a handful of books in existence that nearly everyone agrees is a classic, which then helps us make the relative determination as well for much more troublesome candidates. If you're to read only a handful of books in the CCLaP 100 series, do make sure to make Madame Bovary one of them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    In this case, I think it was a bad idea to know stuff about Madame Bovary and Gustave Flaubert before starting the book. My high school English teacher loved to talk about books - and I know how she feels - but the result was quite a few spoilers for a lot of European classics. I think that knowing the author's intentions can be a bad thing and I'm certain that I was unable to keep it from influencing the way I viewed Emma Bovary and her behaviour. If you're curious about these intentions of Fla In this case, I think it was a bad idea to know stuff about Madame Bovary and Gustave Flaubert before starting the book. My high school English teacher loved to talk about books - and I know how she feels - but the result was quite a few spoilers for a lot of European classics. I think that knowing the author's intentions can be a bad thing and I'm certain that I was unable to keep it from influencing the way I viewed Emma Bovary and her behaviour. If you're curious about these intentions of Flaubert's: (view spoiler)[He hated the rising bourgeoisie during the nineteenth century, therefore he intentionally painted them as silly fools obsessed with romance and never satisfied with the good things life gave them. (hide spoiler)] Even so, three stars means I liked it and I did. The novel reminds me of a cross between Lady Chatterley's Lover and The Painted Veil. I found it better than the former but nowhere near as good as the latter. It is built on the same ideas of a woman being unhappy in marriage and turning to other comforts and affairs in order to try and gain some happiness and romance from life. Emma Bovary starts off a character much like Kitty from The Painted Veil, she is naive and fickle, her new husband is nice and kind but he cannot hold her interest. She longs for passion and excitement and she becomes delusional in the face of empty promises made by her secret lover. She is a far better character than Constance Chatterley, or perhaps what I mean is that I find her selfishness and dissatisfaction with everything in life more interesting. I am not a big fan of Lawrence - a man who I believe wrote mediocre romance novels and owes his fame to what could at the time be considered shock tactics like "ohmigod, female orgasms!" and "ohmigod, affairs with the working class!" All I'm saying is that Lawrence was lucky the term "mommy porn" wasn't around back then. But Maugham is an entirely different story and I think where Emma Bovary fails and Kitty succeeds is in character growth. In The Painted Veil, Kitty starts out naive and annoying, at times you'd like to strangle her for being so frustrating... but she suffers, she changes, she adapts and she grows into a different human being. Emma Bovary is a rather hopeless case, and if you did happen to read the spoiler in the first paragraph then you'll probably understand why I think this was Flaubert's intention all along. I will give him every credit where it's due, I think he paints a very interesting and detailed picture of a unhappy woman's life and mental workings. It has been pointed out that he doesn't judge Emma, but I sort of think he does in an indirect way. I mean, Emma Bovary and those closest to her are the ones who suffer in the end because she was so delusional and unable to be happy and satisfied with what she had. But, like I said, my opinion is undoubtedly influenced by what I already knew of Flaubert. One more thing: I don't believe Gustave Flaubert is really Gustave Flaubert. I think he is Hercule Poirot O.O

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    This is my third attempt at writing the review for the work. I tried and tried, but found myself at loss with words each time I sat and thought about the character of Emma. Her character, at the outset, is contemptible. A woman, who engages in an ignoble behavior with other man, someone who is not in control of her emotions, someone who doesn’t live in her present, ignores her child and husband for an illicit relationship, lives for her own gratification and is self-indulgent to the point of bei This is my third attempt at writing the review for the work. I tried and tried, but found myself at loss with words each time I sat and thought about the character of Emma. Her character, at the outset, is contemptible. A woman, who engages in an ignoble behavior with other man, someone who is not in control of her emotions, someone who doesn’t live in her present, ignores her child and husband for an illicit relationship, lives for her own gratification and is self-indulgent to the point of being a hedonist. No, one cannot forgive her. To some extent, I agree. I found myself quite angry with her several times, more specifically towards the end, when her husband died and their only child was left to labor. It evoked a kind of rage, as I felt dearly for the child. But I couldn’t bring about myself to loath Emma. No, I couldn’t do that. Rather I felt pity for her, for I could acutely feel the despair which she might have gone through while living a dull provincial life. And many reasons, in my opinion, contributed to her despair. First one being, that she was a woman of an above average intelligence, who was infatuated with grandeur of a bourgeois society. She was a little educated and had been under the influence of what she might have gathered from her school life. If only, she had been exposed to other opportunities to explore more in life, she might have not felt the despair and earnestness to break away from her family. I have witnessed such a case in real life, where owing to an above average intelligence and for a restriction to explore in more in terms of education and career, a woman turned insane. Emma turned to experience adventure and fallacy of love. It is something not to be detested but to be understood. Secondly, if she was born in a rich family, the society wouldn’t have affected her so. Thirdly and most importantly, if her husband was less sluggish and more enthusiastic, perhaps it would have helped her in finding other outlets for her frustration. As a woman, I think I can safely say that women do not respect men with less ambition. That said, I am, in no way trying to justify the actions taken by Emma. Rather, trying to analyse her reasons for doing so. Gustave Flaubert has been such a master of the craft! Though through his work, he has given us a glance into the bourgeois culture which prevailed during his times and an account of the result of despair, on the part of a woman, that could arise from an unhappy married life; I think he has also incited us to question the very basis of a married relationship. Though the times have changed, women now more independent and free to indulge in their vocations and hobbies, but still, when it comes to marriage, the bottom line I guess, remains the same. 5 stars for bringing Emma almost alive!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Χαρά Ζ.

    _Madame Bovary_ Ok. I liked this book. So, this is slow paced, full of descriptions and in general, not many things are happening even though the book covers a period of several years. It's "multilayered" on many aspects, giving us pieces out of eveyone's thoughts and showing us the emptiness of the provincial life in the ending decates of the 19th century in France. The humor, the kindness and the elegance which Flaubert uses in his writing in order to present the story and the characters is ev _Madame Bovary_ Ok. I liked this book. So, this is slow paced, full of descriptions and in general, not many things are happening even though the book covers a period of several years. It's "multilayered" on many aspects, giving us pieces out of eveyone's thoughts and showing us the emptiness of the provincial life in the ending decates of the 19th century in France. The humor, the kindness and the elegance which Flaubert uses in his writing in order to present the story and the characters is everything. The descriptions are alive. It's like you can watch them move in front of you. It is mainly the psychographic portrait of Emma, our main protagonist, but also, in a smaller extend, of all the people in her life. This is a masterpiece. From here on there are going to be some minor SPOILERS cz i just wanna talk about a few things in the book. First of all, i think i kind of like Emma. I know, she is emotionally unstable, always treating her life with ingratitude, she is vainglorious, greedy and conceited. She is impulsive and unpredictable. But after all this mess, i cannot dislike her, so i think i might actually like her. I beared everything that she did in this book but i swear there were times i wanted to just tell her "Hold still, my human, for a moment. Stop and look where you are, whom you are with. Stop and say to yourself, I am happy. Feel that. Be grateful for that. Ask for no more." But of course Madame Bovary is so not that kind of person. And at the end of the book, when i started getting tired of her mess, she did something. She denied something with strength and honor and it felt like to me, that not everything was lost, even though everything was lost. She is self-desastrous in this whole book but she walks in her complete destruction with such small steps that you can only undersand how far she has come in the mess of her life only in the last chapters, when Flaubert sums up all her actions, even the minor ones. This book needs your paitence and understanding while reading it. I appreciate this piece of literature Flaubert has offered and i am sure i will reread it at some point. 5/5

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.