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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
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Madame Bovary (original 1857; edition 2011)

by Gustave Flaubert

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,188249100 (3.75)3 / 707
Member:emif
Title:Madame Bovary
Authors:Gustave Flaubert
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2011), Paperback, 214 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:read in 2012, French, 19th century

Work details

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857)

  1. 100
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin (StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: This is the American version of Madame Bovary - set in turn of the century Louisiana.
  2. 111
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
  3. 102
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (DLSmithies)
    DLSmithies: Don Quixote was Flaubert's favourite book, and I've read somewhere that the idea of Madame Bovary is to re-tell the story of Don Quixote in a different context. Don Quixote is obsessed with chivalric literature, and immerses himself in it to the extent that he loses his grip on reality. Emma Bovary is bewitched by Romantic literature in the same way. There are lots of parallels between the two novels, and I think putting them side by side can lead to a better understanding of both.… (more)
  4. 70
    The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (Limelite)
    Limelite: Essentially the same greedy, social climbing woman who gets herself into money troubles and manipulates men to get out of them -- but with more success. Similar commentary on society, but instead of the bourgeoisie of village France it's the upper crust of NYC of nearly the same time but without the trenchant humor of Flaubert.… (more)
  5. 70
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (Hollerama)
    Hollerama: Both works are about women who would do anything to gain a life of luxury.
  6. 40
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  7. 51
    The Awakening and Selected Short Stories {9 stories} by Kate Chopin (Dilara86)
  8. 30
    The Red and the Black by Stendhal (LittleMiho)
  9. 20
    Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (roby72)
  10. 31
    The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa (browner56)
    browner56: The stories of two women, separated by 150 years, who search desperately for something they never find. Flaubert's legendary protaganist is the role model for Vargas Llosa's "bad girl".
  11. 10
    Mrs Craddock by W. Somerset Maugham (soylentgreen23)
    soylentgreen23: 'Mrs Craddock' evidently shares a lot in common with Flaubert's masterpiece, especially in terms of its representation of a woman married to a dull man, who wishes to have a renewed taste of passion, despite the likely terrible consequences.
  12. 10
    Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust (caflores)
  13. 21
    The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox (allenmichie)
  14. 11
    The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore (CGlanovsky)
  15. 00
    Een zuivere liefde by Sofja Tolstaja (Monika_L)
  16. 11
    Contre-enquête sur la mort d'Emma Bovary by Philippe Doumenc (Cecilturtle)
  17. 11
    Serious Men: A Novel by Manu Joseph (orangewords)
  18. 23
    Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert (wrmjr66)
  19. 01
    Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes by Mary S. Hartman (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Flaubert based Emma, in part, on one of the women profiled in this really great book.
  20. 712
    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (orangewords)
    orangewords: The language in both of these books is just amazing. Alluring prose covers a multitude of unlikable characters.

(see all 20 recommendations)

Romans (17)
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English (207)  Spanish (14)  Dutch (6)  French (4)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Danish (2)  Swedish (2)  Finnish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Galician (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (249)
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
Long and rambling. Not my favorite classic. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Long and rambling. Not my favorite classic. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
I’m envious of the women in my book group who are native French speakers and able to read Gustave Flaubert’s classic in its original language. I read the 2010 English translation by noted American short story writer and essayist Lydia Davis, one of the 19 produced since the book’s 1856 publication. Her intent, she has said, was “to do what I think hasn’t been done, which is to create a well-written translation that’s also very close, very faithful to the French.” Here is a Julian Barnes essay comparing notable translations, including Davis’s, across the generations {http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n22/julian-barnes/writers-writer-and-writers-writers-writer}. If you want to read Madame Bovary, I suggest at least skimming Barnes’s essay to find a translation suited to your reading preferences.

The novel is a period piece, set in a particular, rather dreary locale, and not all periods and settings wear as well in terms of interest over 160 years. When Madame Bovary was published, the government said the novel was a danger to morality and religion and put Flaubert and his publisher on trial, though they were acquitted. However, in general, “provincial French woman has affairs with doltish men” is no longer a riveting or scandalous storyline, and “spends more than she should” is the modern way of life. Likewise, the beliefs and foibles Flaubert pokes fun at (conventional and bourgeois views, including religion, chief among them) are of varying relevance today. In an Introduction Davis quotes Nabokov’s view that, in Madame Bovary, “the ironic and the pathetic are beautifully intertwined,” and it is those sly revelations about society and how people move in it, rather than plot, that give the modern reader the greatest satisfaction.

Reader tastes have changed not just with regard to content, but regarding style, too, and a book about that same period written today would be very different from Flaubert’s approach. One consequence of what now seems a rather disordered style is that Madame’s character never quite came into focus for me. She is motivated by the ill-considered whims of a moment, a pliant object for the men around her, and rarely self-actuated until of course the end. It turns out, as Barnes notes in his essay, that translator Davis doesn’t actually much like her, or the book. Interesting.

As an exemplar of realist fiction, Madame Bovary was a path breaking book. Unlike most novels that came before, it didn’t romanticize (in the literary sense) or try to draw moral lessons—the lessons were clear from the book’s events and their consequences. Flaubert’s intention was to make the novel not just not “romantic,” but anti-romantic, in that Madame’s susceptibility to and pursuit of romanticism and shallow gratification are what cause her downfall. Occasionally, thought, the authorial voice does make a judgment in the nature of a delicious truism, for example: (about the lovers) “She was as weary of him as he was tired of her. Emma was rediscovering in adultery all the platitudes of marriage.”

Translator Davis in an introduction says this novel’s “radical nature is paradoxically difficult for us to see: its approach is familiar to us for the very reason that Madame Bovary permanently changed the way novels were written thereafter.” ( )
  Vicki_Weisfeld | Jan 19, 2016 |
Emma Bovary is bored with her marriage and her life because neither looks anything like what she reads in novels. She embarks on a series of affairs in her search for the love she does not feel for her husband. She also racks up quite a lot of debt by living well beyond her means. Her husband indulges her in pretty much everything, partly because of her poor health, partly because he loves her, and partly because he's too lazy to pay attention to what's going on right under his nose. As you might be able to guess, this does not end well for anyone.

This was a reread for me. This was one of the first classics I read when I was in high school and just starting to get into adult literature. I remember liking it, but didn't remember anything else about the book. I wanted to reread it because I suspect that I was not quite mature enough as a reader to really get the book.

I don't quite know what happened between now and then, but I didn't enjoy the book this time. None of the characters were particularly likable, and the plot was boring more often than not. I understand why it's considered a great work of literature and how influential it's been on literature as a whole, but it just wasn't enjoyable to read this time. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
The story of Emma Bovary, the misguided wife of a country doctor.

Emma's life is based around the pursuit of love and a man who can give her the excitement and passion she has read about, sadly that man is not her husband.

Emma fell she is let down by the men in her life but she is really let down by her own inability to accept that love is not like in the movies and to have something lasting and worth while you need to work at it. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
Davis’s division of previous translators into flair-bringers and clunkheads doesn’t really hold; nor does her claim to offer the best of both worlds. ... Davis’s Madame Bovary is a linguistically careful version, in the modern style, rendered into an unobtrusively American English. At its best, it conveys the precision – which some think dryness – of Flaubert’s prose in this novel, while its syntactical mirroring of the French sometimes brings us closer to Flaubert. At its worst, it takes us too far away from English, and makes us less aware of Flaubert’s prose than of Davis being aware of Flaubert’s prose. And such defects come from something very old-fashioned: a lack of love for the work being translated. ... Lydia Davis’s Madame Bovary shows that it’s possible to produce a more than acceptable version of a book with which you are profoundly out of sympathy. In that sense, it confirms that translation requires an act of the imagination as well as a technician’s proficiency. If you want a freer translation, Steegmuller is best; for a tighter one, go to Wall.
 
It is a shame Flaubert will never read Davis’s translation of “Madame Bovary.” Even he would have to agree his masterwork has been given the English translation it deserves.
 

» Add other authors (167 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Flaubert, Gustaveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Achille, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ajac, BernardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bair, LowellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bakker, MargotTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bersani, LeoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bodegård, AndersTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brissaud, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carifi, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Édouard MaynialIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gendel, EvelynTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Konstantinov, KonstantinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacretelle, JacquesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacretelle, Jacques deIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marmur, MildredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mauldon, MargaretTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, J. LewisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCarthy, MaryForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palola, EinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinxteren, Hans vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmied, TheoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Speziale Bagliacca, RobertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suffel, JacquesPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorpe, AdamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viitanen, Anna-MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wall, GeoffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
A Marie Antoine Jules Senard- Membro del Foro di Parigi ex presidente dell'Assemblea Nazionale già Ministro degli Interni. -
"Caro e illustre amico, consentitemi di iscrivere il vostro nome in apertura di questo libro, e prima ancora della dedica: è soprattutto a voi che devo la sua pubblicazione. Passando attraverso la vostra magnifica arringa, la mia opera ha acquisito anche per me una sorta di autorevolezza imprevista. Accettate perciò qui l'omaggio della mia gratitudine, che, per quanto grande possa essere, non sarà mai all'altezza della vostra eloquenza e della vostra dedizione."  Gustave Flaubert....Parigi 12 aprile 1857
Dedication
To
Marie-Antoine-Jules Sénard
Member of the Paris Bar
Ex-President of the National Assemly
Former Minister of the Interior
To Louis Bouilhet
First words
Nous étions à l'Etude, quand le Proviseur entra suivi d'un "nouveau" habillé en bourgeois et d'un garçon de classe qui portait un grand pupitre.
We were in study hall when the headmaster walked in, followed by a new boy not wearing a school uniform, and by a janitor carrying a large desk.
We were at prep, when the Head came in, followed by a new boy not in uniform and a school-servant carrying a big desk.
We were at prep when the Headmaster came in, followed by a 'new boy' not wearing school uniform, and by a school servant carrying a large desk.
We were in class when the head master came in, followed by a "new fellow," not wearing the school uniform, and a school servant carrying a large desk.
Quotations
What would _they_ be doing now? ... the sort of life that opens the heart and the senses like flowers in bloom. Whereas for her, life was cold as an attic facing north, and the silent spider boredom wove its web in all the shadowed corners of her heart.
Surprised by the strange sweetness of it, they never though to describe or to explain what they felt. Coming delights, like tropical beaches, send out their native enchantment over the vast spaces that precede them -- a perfumed breeze that lulls and drugs you out of all anxiety as to what may yet await you below the horizon.
'Have you got your pistols?'
'What for?'
'Why, to defend yourself,' Emma replied.
'From your husband? Ha! Poor little man!'
Gone were those tender words that had moved her to tears, those tempestuous embraces that had sent her frantic. The grand passion into which she had plunged seemed to be dwindling around her like a river sinking into its bed; she saw the slime at the bottom.
She repented her past virtue as though it were a crime; what still remained of it collapsed beneath the savage onslaught of her pride.
Last words
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140449124, Paperback)

For this novel of French bourgeois life in all its inglorious banality, Flaubert invented a paradoxically original and wholly modern style. His heroine, Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a
desperate love affair. A succès de scandale in its day, Madame Bovary remains a powerful and arousing novel.


@TheRealDesperateHousewife My sadness is bothersome. He says I need to change scenery. That will help like a trip to Italy cures TB. What I need is a good poking.

From Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:01 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"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'." -- BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 38 descriptions

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6 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140449124, 0141045159, 1846141044, 0451418506, 0143123807, 0734306873

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 140010274X, 1400109043

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