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

by Gustave Flaubert

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15,751None112 (3.77)3 / 581
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)

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  1. 90
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin (RWListen)
    RWListen: This is the American version of Madame Bovary - set in turn of the century Louisiana.
  2. 101
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
  3. 91
    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
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (Hollerama)
    Hollerama: Both works are about women who would do anything to gain a life of luxury.
  5. 50
    The Awakening and Stories by Kate Chopin (Dilara86)
  6. 40
    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)
  7. 30
    The Red and the Black by Stendhal (LittleMiho)
  8. 30
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  9. 20
    Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (roby72)
  10. 21
    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
    Thérèse by Francois Mauriac (Baukis)
  12. 00
    Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust (caflores)
  13. 00
    Eine Frage der Schuld: Roman - Mit der «Kurzen Autobiographie der Gräfin S. A. Tolstaja»: Anläßlich der "Kreutzersonate" von Lew Tolstoi. Mit einem Nachwort von Ursula Keller by Sofja Tolstaja (Monika_L)
  14. 11
    The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox (allenmichie)
  15. 11
    Contre-enquête sur la mort d'Emma Bovary by Philippe Doumenc (Cecilturtle)
  16. 01
    Serious Men by Manu Joseph (orangewords)
  17. 23
    Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert (wrmjr66)
  18. 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.
  19. 510
    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (orangewords)
    orangewords: The language in both of these books is just amazing. Alluring prose covers a multitude of unlikable characters.
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English (178)  Spanish (12)  Dutch (5)  Italian (2)  German (2)  French (2)  Danish (2)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Norwegian (1)  Galician (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (212)
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
It really isn’t often that I read a book in translation. Many years ago I went through a phase of reading quite a lot of French and Russian classics – but since then have really read very few books translated from other languages. I think that the fear I have now in reading a work in translation, maybe especially a work of classic literature that has been loved and revered for generations, is that in reading it in a language other than that of the original author I am losing something of the original. My concern that the text I read has been sieved or filtered and that what remains although retaining something of the original intent loses some intangible essence through that filtering process, like those tiny pieces left behind in the bottom of the sieve. I tried therefore not to worry too much about which translation of Madam Bovary I was reading – I felt I had no way of knowing which would be the best, and I already had an old black spine Penguin Classic from reading Madam Bovary twenty years ago. There is something about those old black spine Penguin Classics that I trust, I decided surely this translation would be one of the best. This translation by Alan Russell –who also wrote the introduction to this edition, was first published in 1950.
Madam Bovary was Flaubert’s debut novel, a so called “realistic novel” that had started to become popular in the previous twenty or thirty years in France. In Emma Bovary we see something of Gustave Flaubert himself, as he is famously supposed to have said “Madame Bovary, c’est moi!” Like his famous literary creation, Flaubert was disgusted by what he saw as the gross vulgarity of French bourgeois life. It is this world, that he so hated, that Flaubert decided to write about, and in doing so, brilliantly re-creates the life of a small Normandy market town and its residents. It is this wonderfully evocative sense of place that I particularly loved.
“At the bottom of her heart, however, 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. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But 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.”
The plot of this novel is essentially fairly simple, the wife of a provincial doctor seeking release from her dull provincial life in two ultimately unsatisfactory adulterous relationships, is later manipulated into terrible debt by a local tradesman.
We first meet Charles Bovary, as a misfit schoolboy, who later goes to study medicine, he applies himself diligently, but alas Bovary is not a gifted medical practitioner and right away we know Charles to be a nice, dull man and a bit of a bumbling plodder. Married off to an older widow by his mother, Charles Bovary meets Emma when he goes to tend to her father’s broken leg. Emma is a beautiful young woman, bored by her life on her father’s farm, she longs for town life. When Charles’ wife dies suddenly he wastes little time in becoming a regular fixture at Rouault’s farm. Emma agrees to marry Charles, hoping that her new life in Tostes will provide with the sort of life she thinks she wants. Following a glittering ball that gives Emma a glimpse of a world she longs to have more of – she begins to slide into a state of greater and greater dissatisfaction, yearning for a world that remains forever out of reach. Desperate to do anything to help his beloved Emma, Charles moves them to the larger market town of Yonville-l'Abbaye. It is the way in which Flaubert re-creates the life of this small French town that gives it its realistic quality, the small everyday concerns of doctor, chemist, tradesmen and their wives, the agricultural show and the daily arrival of the stage coach.
“Love, she thought, must come suddenly, with great outbursts and lightnings,--a hurricane of the skies, which falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a leaf, and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss.”
It is here in Yonville-l'Abbaye that Emma’s life slowly spirals out of control, a life fuelled by lies, self-deception, and mad impulse constantly aspiring to a better sphere of life. Emma is a fascinating character, despite everything she is not unlikeable, but then I rather like flawed, tragic characters. I rather liked Charles Bovary too – though he is really rather pitiful, I suspect Flaubert didn’t much like him, but he thoroughly knew and understood his type. Just as he did the self-serving chemist Monsieur Homais, and the slightly malevolent tradesman Lheureux – who is Emma’s final undoing. These characters are so brilliantly portrayed that I couldn’t help but feel they had been taken from life.
I absolutely loved re-reading this novel, which I am certain I got far more out of this time around. I am so glad that I joined in with ebookclassics reading of this novel. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Apr 16, 2014 |
This was a good read, but I didn't like Madame Bovary, so it was kind of annoying. She seemed to have no good reason for being as messed up as she was. Flaubert failed to make me understand why she was so vapid, venal, and obsessed with romance and money. She seemed to have a sociopathic lack of compassion for others.

However, I'm always happy to read a slow, story about people living before all the technology we have today spoiled everything. It was refreshing to have people calling on their neighbors because that was the only way to get in touch with them. I could have done with a little less brutal mistreatment of horses. People were constantly riding them to death in a hurry to get somewhere, a spurring them bloody and whipping them.

I really hoped to come to understand MB and have her find happiness or growth in some way. She failed to be able to grow or change and ended by killing herself. Give her a Darwin Award for unsurvival of the unfit-est. ( )
  kylekatz | Apr 13, 2014 |
Emma Roualt è una donna completamente insoddisfatta: dalla vita si aspettava grandi feste, vita sfarzosa, amori romantici. Dopo il matrimonio con il gentile, ma banale Charles Bovary, l'insofferenza di lei si manifesta in ogni momento della sua quotidianità.
La prossima lettura andrà fatta in lingua originale, credo che questo romanzo lo meriti :) ( )
  Manua | Apr 10, 2014 |
In Flaubert's novel, domestic mediocrity drives his heroine to 'dreams of luxury'. The novels centers on the heroine's disillusionment at not having a higher status in society and being trapped in an unsophisticated provincial town. Emma Bovary rebels but never strives to separate herself from society. Emma doesn't mind being a wife; she just wants to be the wife of someone important and wealthy who moves in high society. But, convention means that she cannot escape her marriage without being cast out of good society. Death presents an escape, and seems to offer her a way to fulfill her romantic fantasies. Yet, her death is painful and grotesque, which could be interpreted as the heroine's punishment for flouting social norms.

Incidentally, my first introduction to this French novel was Posy Simmonds' graphic novel titled 'Gemma Bovary' — a wonderful parody of Flaubert's tragic tale.

http://www.wordhorse.co.uk/ ( )
  Wordhorse | Mar 20, 2014 |
The wife of a doctor in the small provincial town of Yonville, Emma Bovary finds the ordinary life which she leads tedious and banal. Her reading of romantic novels have led her to long for passion and romance in her life, something which her husband Charles will never be able to give her or even to understand. Charles is rather stupid and dull but overall a decent man who loves Emma wholeheartedly, while Emma herself, although continually striving for love, seems incapable of understanding true love herself. In reality it is the trappings of a rich lover that she seems to crave (money, fine clothes, fashionable furniture), and in the rich Rodolphe Boulanger it seems that she has found what she desires ...

It was interesting to read this novel so soon after Zola's Germinal. Both give a vivid impression of very different parts of French society in the nineteenth century, and Madame Bovary gives a wonderful impression of the constricted and stultifying society in which a woman like Emma Bovary was expected to live. But despite the reader feeling some sympathy for Emma's plight, her evident complete lack of concern for anyone other than herself means that that sympathy is not retained for long. Indeed, there are virtually no likeable characters in the novel at all. While Charles Bovary is well-meaning and truly cares for Emma's welfare, he is also stultifyingly boring, a doctor who is so unsure of his own abilities that he prefers to prescribe no medicines at all wherever possible. The apothecary Homais, who befriends the Bovarys when they first arrive in Yonville, does so in a coldly calculating manner for reasons of business alone. The draper Lheureux deliberately sets out to tempt Emma into debt (not a difficult task) and is not averse to a little blackmail if it will help her to proceed more quickly along this road.

But while none of the characters are likeable, they are all very believable and so overall the novel is a rich and satisfying one. ( )
  SandDune | Feb 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
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 (372 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
Davis, LydiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gendel, EvelynTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacretelle, JacquesIntroductionsecondary 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
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 the English one.
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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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
This exquisite novel tells the story of one of the most compelling heroines in modern literature - Emma Bovary. Unhappily married to a devoted, clumsy provincial doctor, Emma revolts against the ordinariness of her life by pursuing voluptuous dreams of ecstasy and love. But her sensuous and sentimental desires lead her only to suffering, corruption, and downfall. A brilliant psychological portrait, Madam Bovary searingly depicts the human mind in search of transcendence, Who is Madam Bovary? Flaubert’s answer: “Madam Bovary, c’est moi.” Acclaimed as a masterpiece upon its publication in 1857, the work catapulted Flaubert to the ranks of the world’s greatest novelists.

Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:50 -0400)

(see all 8 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 25 descriptions

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Nineteen editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Five editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140449124, 0141045159, 1846141044, 0451418506, 0143123807

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