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Madame Bovary (Wordsworth Classics) by…

Madame Bovary (Wordsworth Classics) (original 1857; edition 1993)

by Gustave Flaubert (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
24,030355115 (3.74)6 / 901
In "Madame Bovary," his story of a shallow, deluded, unfaithful, but consistently compelling woman living in the provinces of nineteenth-century France, Gustave Flaubert invented not only the modern novel but also a modern attitude toward human character and human experience that remains with us to this day. One of the rare works of art that it would be fair to call perfect, "Madame Bovary" has had an incal-culable influence on the literary culture that followed it. This translation, by Francis Steeg-muller, is acknowledged by common consensus as the definitive English rendition of Flaubert's text.… (more)
Title:Madame Bovary (Wordsworth Classics)
Authors:Gustave Flaubert (Author)
Info:Wordsworth Editions (1993), Edition: New Ed, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Novels, Gothic, Historical

Work Information

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857)

  1. 163
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
  2. 120
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin (StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: This is the American version of Madame Bovary - set in turn of the century Louisiana.
  3. 100
    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)
  4. 122
    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)
  5. 90
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (HollyMS)
    HollyMS: Both works are about women who would do anything to gain a life of luxury.
  6. 80
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  7. 70
    The Awakening and Selected Short Stories {9 stories} by Kate Chopin (Dilara86)
  8. 60
    The Red and the Black by Stendhal (LittleMiho)
  9. 30
    Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (roby72)
  10. 20
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
  11. 20
    Something to Declare by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
  12. 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".
  13. 31
    The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox (allenmichie)
  14. 10
    The Doctor's Wife by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both heroines love novels and wish to lead an adventurous life but instead, they both get married to down-to-earth medical men who, despite a sincere affection, never understand them.
  15. 10
    A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen (mysimas)
  16. 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.
  17. 10
    Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust (caflores)
  18. 11
    Contre-enquête sur la mort d'Emma Bovary by Philippe Doumenc (Cecilturtle)
  19. 00
    Een zuivere liefde by Sofja Tolstaja (Monika_L)
  20. 11
    Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz (potenza)
    potenza: Man Booker Intl finalist. Woman on the edge. Brutally feminist.

(see all 25 recommendations)

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English (292)  Spanish (20)  Dutch (8)  Italian (7)  French (7)  German (4)  Portuguese (Brazil) (3)  Catalan (3)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Galician (1)  All languages (355)
Showing 1-5 of 292 (next | show all)
In a nutshell: overly long, overly descriptive, dodgily plotted, and irregularly paced. It was published in 1856, though, so some latitude is deserved.

Before reading: choose your translator. I began with the much-prasied Lydia Davis translation. 50 pages in, it felt like I was reading a US western instead of an overtly French novel. After a little exploration, I settled on Adam Thorpe’s translation, and this proved an excellent choice. His occasional footnotes provided insight into cultural references and his reasoning behind certain translation choices. These added greatly to my understanding of the text.

Is this a story worthy of 118,000 words? Not really. Although some of the scenes are gems of irony, wit, and sarcasm; albeit some of the gags are overplayed. As a period piece about French society of its time, it’s probably hard to beat. ( )
  ortgard | Sep 22, 2022 |
I really liked this book a lot more than I thought I would, but be warned this gets graphic and really depressing at the end. Don't read this book expecting something uplifting or to positive moral at the end either. This is literary realism. Bad stuff happens and then life moves on to the next event. Also, this review is going to have a spoiler to the ending, but figured either most people know the ending already or I thought it would be helpful to know the ending before you read the book expecting something different.

Overall this is a story about an unhappy woman named Emma Bovary. She is married to a doctor and has a daughter. However, she wants more. She wants more money and she wants to travel to exotic places. She meets two other men in her life and has an affair with both of them. She finds her life boring, her husband is boring, and she doesn't seem to think anything of her daughter. As the the book comes to an end, she decided to take life in her own hands by drinking arsenic. Her husband is in grief throughout his life and the daughter is too young to know what happened.

I really liked this book even though as I write this review it left me feeling a little depressed (that will change when I move on to something else though). For something written in 1856, I thought it was progressive. I've read my far share of Victoria books and a lot of them romanticize death and true love. This book stabs you in the heart. The death scene at the end gets graphic I thought. It might be the translator, but I have a feeling it was Flaubert. Not only does it go into deal how Madame Bovary starts vomiting blood from the arsenic, but you also witness her dying in her bed. Honestly, it feels like someone just actually died finishing the novel.

I think this Madame Bovary is a relatable character and book in today's world too. Some people might think this book is sexist for killing off the female lead, but n reality it not sexist at all. Inn fact, I knew someone almost exactly like Madame Bovary. She was unhappy with her life, her husband cheated on her, she lost custody of her child, and instead of talking to people about her problems and getting help, she decided to take her life too. As depressing as this book makes people feel, I think it's important to know stuff like this happens more than we think. And like Madame Bovary's husband, I think the best thing anyone can do is just move on with their life and make the best of things.

I think people should read this book because it's a classic and it makes you think about other people. However, I have warned you that this is nothing light, plot wise. Don't be fooled by the title being a woman's name, it's not a feminist book and nor is the main character likable. It's simply a book about life as if someone is looking out a street window.

Note: I suggest getting the Lydia Davis translation. She seemed to make this book more readable for modern English speaking folks. ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
I did not dislike this book. Nor did I like it. It's a fascinating discussion on fate and the human condition. One must choose to be happy ( )
  FaithBurnside | Aug 17, 2022 |
finally done - rather boring - minuet details of nothing - everyone dies in the end ( )
  lkubed | Aug 14, 2022 |
After one of the slower openings that I have encountered in my reading life this novel picks up speed quickly as Emma Bovary (nee Rouault) enters the story. No wonder it is titled "Madame Bovary" as from the moment she marries the unwitting Charles Bovary she is the center of the action. While in the same basic category as Anna Karenina she suffers in the comparison. Her solipsistic selfishness points to a likely disappointing denouement for her life story.

Gustave Flaubert famously declared "No lyricism, no digressions, personality of the author absent", when commenting to his friend and literary confidant Louis Bouilhet about his tone of writing Madame Bovary. That is the hallmark of Flaubert's style and the aim of his hard work writing slowly to make sure he had just the right words. He became his characters, entered into their lives and dreamt their dreams. This resulted in the masterpiece that has become a classic of French literature.

The story is a simple one of 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. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel's true art lies in the author's ability to present the narrative in a way that every detail is present in service to the experience of the characters. Emma's passion is at the center of a story that is in exists to portray the vicissitudes of her life. And in the details emphasized by the author, whether the moribund nature of her marriage and the small town in to which she is bound or the momentary escapes into the nature of the countryside or an evening at the opera, every moment is necessary to build to the shattering climax of this brilliant beautiful authentic tale of the consequences of one tragic existence.

Demonstrating the truth of Keat's dictum about truth and beauty, Flaubert achieves a mood of 'aesthetic mysticism' that has seldom been reached by others. The result is one that we as readers can enjoy and marvel at the power of his words. ( )
  jwhenderson | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 292 (next | show all)
Madame Bovary is many things - a perfect piece of fictional machinery, the pinnacle of realism, the slaughterer of romanticism, a complete study of failure - but it is also the first great shopping-and-fucking novel.
added by KayCliff | editTranslating Madame Bovary, Julian Barnes (Dec 4, 2020)

» Add other authors (158 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gustave Flaubertprimary authorall editionscalculated
Achille, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ajac, BernardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aveling, Eleanor MarxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bair, LowellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bakker, MargotTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bersani, LeoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bodegård, AndersTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brissaud, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carifi, RobertoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gendel, EvelynTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Konstantinov, KonstantinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kraus, ChrisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacretelle, Jacques deIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mann, HeinrichAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marceau, FélicienPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marmur, MildredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mauldon, MargaretTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, J. LewisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maynial, ÉdouardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCarthy, MaryForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palola, EinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perker, IlseÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinxteren, Hans vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riesen, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sander, ErnstÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scheffel, HelmutTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schickele, ReneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmied, TheoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Speziale Bagliacca, RobertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stahl, BenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suffel, JacquesPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suffel, JacquesPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorpe, AdamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viitanen, Anna-MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wall, GeoffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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detebe (20721)
RBL (20075)
Signet Classics (CE 2387)

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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Awards and honors
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
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.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

In "Madame Bovary," his story of a shallow, deluded, unfaithful, but consistently compelling woman living in the provinces of nineteenth-century France, Gustave Flaubert invented not only the modern novel but also a modern attitude toward human character and human experience that remains with us to this day. One of the rare works of art that it would be fair to call perfect, "Madame Bovary" has had an incal-culable influence on the literary culture that followed it. This translation, by Francis Steeg-muller, is acknowledged by common consensus as the definitive English rendition of Flaubert's text.

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Book description
"Madame Bovary", apparso a puntate sulla "Revue de Paris" nel 1856 e integralmente un anno dopo, incontrò subito un grande successo di pubblico - dovuto anche al clamore del processo a cui il suo autore, incriminato per oltraggio alla morale e alla religione, fu sottoposto -, imponendosi all'attenzione della critica come il capolavoro assoluto del romanzo moderno. Incentrato sulla superba figura di Emma Bovary - donna inquieta, insoddisfatta, simbolo di un'insanabile frustrazione sentimentale e sociale - e giocato su un antiromanticismo ideologico e formale di fondo, "Madame Bovary" come ha scritto Vladimir Nabokov, "dal punto di vista stilistico è prosa che fa ciò che si suppone faccia la poesia. Senza Flaubert non ci sarebbe stato un Marcel Proust in Francia, né un James Joyce in Irlanda. In Russia, Cechov non sarebbe stato Cechov".
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Penguin Australia

6 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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

Coffeetown Press

An edition of this book was published by Coffeetown Press.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 140010274X, 1400109043

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1907832106, 1907832114


An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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