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
Trompe-l'oeil (or, The In and Out. Of Love.)