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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent edition
I won't focus this review on the actual novel itself. In terms of Flaubert's contribution to the development of the novel and to realism, this novel obviously deserves five stars. It is a truly remarkable novel that fully warrants its central place in the nineteenth-century canon.

I would highly recommend this edition. At £5.59, the Oxford University Press are...
Published 9 months ago by ChessGuy

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First reading of a classic
The writing style was beautiful especially in the first half and well observed. But I found the characters tedious and unlikeable. And Madame B herself was so totally self absorbed. There were no facets to her. At first one understands a young girl's dreams of romance and longing for a better life. But she is so utterly selfish and dishonest in the way she uses her...
Published 17 months ago by sv


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent edition, 4 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I won't focus this review on the actual novel itself. In terms of Flaubert's contribution to the development of the novel and to realism, this novel obviously deserves five stars. It is a truly remarkable novel that fully warrants its central place in the nineteenth-century canon.

I would highly recommend this edition. At £5.59, the Oxford University Press are managing to sell this book on the cheaper end of the spectrum. However nothing is sacrificied; the translation is to the highest standard I have come across, the footnotes and annotations are erudite and help one achieve a fuller understanding and appreciation of the novel. The introduction compliments the text well and provides some astute and insightful criticism of it and also includes some useful historical context from nineteenth-century France. There is also a useful bibliography that can direct the reader to the more worthwhile secondary texts about Flaubert and Madame Bovary.

If you would like to read this novel, this is the edition to buy. I would recommend it for everyone, from the inexperienced reader of classical novels to someone who is pursuing a degree in literary studies at university.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not Who You Might Expect, 23 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This is not the racy novel, nor Emma Bovary the benighted woman of reputation. It's SO much better and more complex than that. Gustave Flaubert shows a world of flawed individuals with small, narrow lives -women and men alike. He works hard to neither excuse nor exonerate anyone. A reader has to find a judgement and conclusion for her/himself - all very unsettling and enlightening because of that.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 12 Dec 2005
By 
M. Cole (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have just finished reading Madame Bovary for the first time. I write this with the ripples and textures of the novel fresh in my mind. And what textures!
It is not a particularly considered evaluation then, nor is it a 'literary' perspective, simply the intial reactions of one very ordinary reader. Perhaps some will find it helpful.
I won't detail the plot here, other reviewers have already done so elsewhere. At the most basic level the book relates a simple, almost archetypal tragedy. To briefly outline the plot is to recite a familiar morality tale. Flaubert's brilliance is to subvert the form, subtly but to such a degree, that the morality ebbs away and is replaced by something far more sinister, and far more interesting: humanity. Naturally, the book's power to shock and scandalize has diminished considerably in the century and a half since it was published, but presumably few readers are interested only in what is currently 'groundbreaking'.
The writing is sublime. It must be magical in the original French but alas, my poverty of intellect prevents me from sampling its delights. I have read Mauldoon's English translation and it is gorgeous. Apparently Flaubert did not consider himself the most naturally gifted of writers and spent a huge amount of time and precision over his style. Some passages, presumably as a consequence of this, feel a trifle over-delicate. Some readers might even go so far as to say dull. I wouldn't, but there are certainly moments when Flaubert's passion for what he is writing does appear to flag somewhat. These are small criticisms. The reward for his effort is in the abundance of superbly crafted metaphors, the mouth watering imagery, the hilarious characterization...I would not leave it there but I fear continuing such a list might drive me back into the novel's pages and this review would never be finished!
The genius of Flaubert's narrative voice has been noted by other readers here. It is this, principally, that undermines the notion of 'proper morals' that might otherwise inflitrate the novel. It is this that saves Emma the ignominy of becoming just another symbol of woman's capricious follies. It is this that, conversely, fashions of the novel's heroine something of a proto-feminist icon. To suggest that the book lacks sympathetic characters is ludicrous. Emma Bovary is one of the greatest heroines I have come across and I defy anyone who has ever been guilty of a romantic heart not to identify with her. Her husband Charles seems pathetic and weak, perhaps, but he will move every reader to tender pity.
In a great many respects, the irony and detachment of Flaubert's voice gives Madame Bovary a special resonance for modern society. And for those unconvinced, how about a fleeting moment of Flaubert's own splendid romanticism at work, refracted through the caddish Rodolphe:
'and human language is like a cracked kettledrum on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when what we long to do is make music that will move the stars to pity.'
You made music Gustave, you most certainly did. I recommend this book. I hope new readers enjoy it even more than I did.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best translation, 25 Oct 2009
This review is from: Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I've tried a couple of times to read the old Penguin translation and given up - even though I'd enjoyed the Penguin Bouvard and Pecuchet and (incredibly) Salambalo. I took this one on holiday to Normandy and was captivated throughout. Then my wife read it and was similarly hooked. Its a rare thing for both of us to rate a book and I generally see that as the best endorsement I can give. This seems to be a great age for translations (Pevear/Volokhonsky for example) and this one is outstanding.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a brilliant story, but captures a feeling very well, 14 April 2010
This review is from: Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
We all know that feeling, that one that comes after a particularly thrilling daydream when you look around and can only see what's missing - that gentle heart break. That come-down from an imagined high is the feeling that dominates our anti-heroine, Emma, and the plot of Madame Bovary. The disillusionment she sufferers between the life she wants and thinks she deserves verses the life she has, sends her spiralling off into adultery, deceit, despair and debt; forever chasing that missing happiness and intensity of feeling she just can't seem to find in her dull country life.

Emma is not a likeable character; she follows each and every whim with no consideration for anyone else, she is selfish, self-absorbed and immature. But she is an excellent vessel to illustrate the very human struggle to find that elusive feeling of happiness that sadly doesn't come as standard with any life, no matter how `perfect' it appears. She is a whirlwind, a destructive force, never stopping long enough to consider the consequences of her actions as she relentlessly oscillates between the extremes of utter hopelessness and unbridled hope, never once seeing what she has in the moment.

I really enjoyed it, and I hope one day to be able to read it again in its original French. I would recommend it, but I think it's one of those books that you need to be in a particular mood to appreciate. I read this when I had that 'stuck in a rut' feeling and could at least identify with Emma's baser emotions - even if she took it to the extreme.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First reading of a classic, 13 April 2013
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This review is from: Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
The writing style was beautiful especially in the first half and well observed. But I found the characters tedious and unlikeable. And Madame B herself was so totally self absorbed. There were no facets to her. At first one understands a young girl's dreams of romance and longing for a better life. But she is so utterly selfish and dishonest in the way she uses her husband and totally uncaring of her child, that you lose all sympathy.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only she'd met me first..., 15 May 2012
By 
Woody Friend (Brixton, London) - See all my reviews
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Not much to add really. A fine translation that feels just right. How is it that real classics can stand the test of time so well? Discuss!
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Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (Oxford World's Classics)
Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (Oxford World's Classics) by Mark Overstall (Paperback - 17 April 2008)
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