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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary (original 1857; edition 2012)

by Gustave Flaubert, Hans van Pinxteren (Translator)

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16,379235107 (3.76)3 / 643
Title:Madame Bovary
Authors:Gustave Flaubert
Other authors:Hans van Pinxteren (Translator)
Info:de Volkskrant
Collections:Your library
Tags:franse literatuur, roman, fictie, hc, overspel, zelfmoord, frankrijk, huwelijk, gustave flaubert

Work details

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Author) (1857)

Romans (17)
  1. 111
    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)
  2. 111
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
  3. 100
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin (StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: This is the American version of Madame Bovary - set in turn of the century Louisiana.
  4. 80
    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. 80
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (Hollerama)
    Hollerama: Both works are about women who would do anything to gain a life of luxury.
  6. 60
    The Awakening and Selected Short Stories {9 stories} by Kate Chopin (Dilara86)
  7. 50
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  8. 40
    The Red and the Black by Stendhal (LittleMiho)
  9. 30
    Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (roby72)
  10. 41
    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. 31
    The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox (allenmichie)
  12. 20
    Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust (caflores)
  13. 21
    Serious Men: A Novel by Manu Joseph (orangewords)
  14. 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.
  15. 11
    The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore (CGlanovsky)
  16. 33
    Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert (wrmjr66)
  17. 11
    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.
  18. 12
    Contre-enquête sur la mort d'Emma Bovary by Philippe Doumenc (Cecilturtle)
  19. 01
    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)
  20. 611
    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)


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English (194)  Spanish (14)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  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 (235)
Showing 1-5 of 194 (next | show all)
Flaubert’s care with language is legendary. Few people — even native English speakers — who pay serious attention to World Literature haven’t heard the stories of how Flaubert would work painstakingly at every sentence to make sure even the sound of it was as close to perfection as he could possibly get. While this characteristic is a given among most poets (a “given,” but not necessarily a “gotten” among many contemporary poets), it’s relatively rare among novelists. But then, even someone of François Mauriac’s authority once said that “every great novelist is first of all a great poet.”

Consequently, to translate Flaubert is a daunting task for any native English-speaker. While I had neither the benefit of the original nor other translations to compare with Alan Russell’s, his translation, in my estimation, does the job both ‘adequately and sufficiently.’ (‘Adequate and sufficient,’ by the way, is no small praise coming from a former philosophy student.)

Madame Bovary is a classic not only of French literature, but also of World Literature — and rightfully so. The story itself is not particularly extraordinary. It is rather Flaubert’s telling of it that makes it a classic.

Just as Anna is the eminently memorable focal point of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Emma is what remains behind in stark detail in the reader’s mind after feasting on Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Your library will never be complete with a copy of Madame Bovary. And your reading pleasure will never be consummated without reading the book, start to finish.

Brooklyn, NY, USA
( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
The story of a young woman who is filled with romantic dreams and discontent over the how her life has transpired.

I didn't care for the story or the characters. It may have been about the period that it was written in. ( )
  cyderry | Nov 11, 2014 |
Had to force myself to finish it, but glad I did. The story may be about nothing but the prose and themes are brilliant and subtle. A book that has stayed with me far more than I thought it would. ( )
  bhutton | Oct 8, 2014 |
Ah, lovely greed and lust take Madame down the primrose path . . . I enjoyed reading Madame Bovary in the context of a course on modern and postmodern philosophy and literature. ( )
  KateRobinson | Oct 4, 2014 |
How many books can you say affected the way you think about the trifles that possess the flawed spirit of humanity?

I have read here something that digs deeply to the the nuanced depths of our common psychosis. The characters, obsequious to their ideal of being owed a certain amount of happiness, are prone to overlook the details that make them miserable and instead, with a series of self-agrandsing actions, attempt to make their lives something like tolerable.

The baseness of these characters lies in all of us. The desire to make our romantic ideals come true, and remain ignorant of the cost that might come along with their artificial manufacture, is eloquently laid out in a narrative that tells of people, real people (not that fake ones that pop up so often in the classic literature) struggling to get something out of life. Anything.

When I first picked up this book, I rolled my eyes and sighed, "Here we go." I was prepared to read about a poor, oppressed woman who through sexual exploits finds that life can be fine and romantic and less painful if only she would allow her feminine spirit reign to do whatever makes her happy. I thought it would be a sort of "Eat, Pray, Fuck" of the 19th century.

That ain't what it was.

Before I explain, I should make clear that I have many problems with Flaubert's story, but the trueness of the characters and the humanity that he makes them portray is not one of them.

Madame Bovary is a perfect expression of the oppositeness that IS human nature.

The woman whose life is summed up in this tragedy is selfish, rude, entitled, a terrible mother, and a willful manic depressive. I hated her. HATE. No matter what anybody says, Flaubert meant for her to be hated. This is not an oppressed woman. She is a brat who thinks herself worthy (simply because she exists) of a life of adventure and ecstasy that she read about in romance novels. She thinks life shouldn't be like life at all, but like the movies (as it were).

But above that theme (and who of use hasn't known a person like that) it is a novel of opposition, as I have said. A representation of the queasy vacillation with which all of us live our lives. Examples:

The lovers love Bovary, and when they do, she hates them.

The lovers hate her and when they do, she loves them.

A playboy confesses the purist human emotion, love, to her during the handing out of prizes for a pig and cattle competition. He eloquently tells her what kind of love he has while farmers praise their hogs in the background. It tells us something about the playboy's idea of love. But she eats it up!

Two men, a priest and an atheist argue over the existence of God and meaning of life while watching over a decaying corpse.

A woman, in order pay off her debts, begs a rich man to lend her money. He advances on her and she is repulsed. That same woman, minutes after, uses her wiles on another rich man offering herself up as a prostitute for some cash.

Some would say, that sounds ridiculous! And it is, but that is US!

How many of us have fantasized about a person, but then when we get in their presence we are somehow grossed out at the idea when we only minutes before pined after them in an impractical fantasy?

"We must not touch our idols, the gilt sticks to our fingers" - Flaubert.

The exhibition of truth and the duality that is in all of us is in this book. It is very much worth a critical read.

My problems:

Flaubert is not a very good storyteller. His narrative puts us on the outside and rarely involves them in the motion of the story in favor of melodramatic dialogue and an almost historic description of events. It's as if the whole thing is a back story and we are just waiting for him to pull us in.

Another problem is the author's ubiquity. He is everywhere present in this book. He flaunts himself at times, head-hopping and generally making us feel like he is a master manipulator of his characters that are moving about in his created world. There is a noticeable split in his ability at verisimilitude. He seems to be very good at dissecting the human spirit, but not very good at placing them in a real environment. I'm actually having a difficult time describing it here. Suffice to note that the entire story feels very second-hand.

When he does decide to use coloration, he is a master, but he uses it sparingly and rightly so. His descriptions are so perfect that to have them too often would tax the reader into a coma of quandary.

He also suffers from something we come to expect from all authors of that era, that is, convenience. Characters are always "chanced upon" at the right moment.

The ending was only slightly weak. We are made to think that Homais is somehow at fault for Bovary's suicide, and (as life would have it) that dirty, big-headed, big-mouthed bourgeois is to blame and because he's so well-off and lucky, he'll get away with it.

Because Homais had discovered that it was his store of arsenic that killed her and didn't say anything, the author suggests there is some culpability on Homais' part. It's a sort of "See! It's the guy who's most evil that always comes out alright in the end!" But clearly Homais is not to blame. Bovary attained the poison through her own devices and chomped on it like a big baby who couldn't handle all the trouble she caused. She was a coward and I was glad she was dead. Homais may have been made to look like a jerk, but he was not responsible for a suicide, by definition.

I presume that it was fashionable to hate the self-made man in France at the time and this was a childish political dig that made the common Frenchman (aren't they all so common anyway) feel a tinge of self righteousness, leaving him with an agreeable sentiment after such a morbid ending. It was also (in my opinion) an homage to Voltaire and his mindless brand of nihilism.

The tragedy (if you're wondering why I called it one) is that M. Bovary failed to see that it was her husband (he was the ONLY one) who really loved her, she was just too selfish and stupid to see it, taking him for a git, which he was. But the only thing she wanted was her own grand ideal of love and he, ultimately, was the one willing to give it to her unconditionally. It turns out she was the mediocrity at the very thing she desired most. Madame B was so consumed with herself it rendered her incapable of enjoying life's greatest gifts.

All told, it was a great read. Madame Bovary is an anthropological study through the art of writing, and also a prime example of fluid prose.

(P.S. I realize that this is a disjointed review, but this book has me reeling and I think that there is so much it has shown me, that a cohesive review would take thousands of words and a month or so to set them down.)

( )
  DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 194 (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 (370 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Flaubert, GustaveAuthorprimary 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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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
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.
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 39 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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