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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly modern writing
I can well understand how controversial this novel was when it was first published. Overall it is a vicious portrayal of small town France. Most of the characters are revealed to be self-seeking and vain. At the heart of the story is Emma Bovary - and Flaubert is, I feel, ambivalent in his attitude to her. He sometimes describes her very favourably and at others as...
Published on 11 July 2007 by Wynne Kelly

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some people will just never learn...
Well, first let me say that I am 95% sure that I will never read this novel again. That is not to say that I'm not glad I read it, or that I disliked it particularly, more that I don't think I could put myself through it again.

It is a novel riddled with complex moral and social issues - and Emma Bovary is a complex anti-heroine. At times I felt sorry for her...
Published on 27 Nov 2009 by Miss E. Potten


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too literal a translation, 6 July 2013
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This review is from: Madame Bovary (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
It is a good story, but spoilt for me by a bad translation. For instance "en fin" is translated as " en fine" , very annoying!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars dreadful translation!, 27 Mar 2013
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Totally mechanical and frquently ungrammatical translation with poor grasp of idiom and sentence structure. Really ruined the text for me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love Madame Bovary, 13 Dec 1998
By A Customer
I am shocked in reading the reviews upon seeing Madame Bovary described as stupid and/or selfish. Why do people write these things? I must also make reference to the critique of an acquaintance of mine, who stated that he didn't feel sorry for Madame Bovary (Emma, wasn't it?), ie, he seemed to be saying she got what she deserved. I interpret this latter comment as a product of America, in the sense that it interprets (or rather, sins against) this great work of art by viewing it in moralistic terms. I don't think Emma is stupid or selfish, nor that she deserved in any sense her horrible fate. On the contrary, I love her. Those who fail to love her are I believe lacking in sensibility. They fail to see the universality of this tale, which is properly characterized as an eternal marvel of literature and everlasting work of beauty.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madame Bovary exemplifies the essence of XIX century realism, 24 May 1996
By A Customer
Flaubert's Bovary is perpetual, pervasive. Through her
eyes, we see the world as it is: filled with universal
virtues and vices that lead to either happiness or self-
destruction. Madame Bovary captures the crystallized
essence of the human spirit: unpredictable and changing, yet
tangible and real. Her passions are those that move the
soul, but not the mind; she never considers,she simply
acts.
Beautiful and uncanny, Emma Bovary's view of the
world eventually becomes the harbinger of her own destiny,
one that she always fails to accept. But, her own actions
never deviate from reality; her character is the very re-
presentation of human life. Immersed into a world that
affects her own personality, Emma conquers a realism that
is always perceptible, that reflects the nature of her own
fortune. In effect, she becomes the product of Tolstoi's
Anna Karenina and Shakespeare's Juliet, for her own destiny
is controlled by passions that are never satisfied, never
fulfilled.
With Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert presents the strange
reality of life. He moves through her his own vision, his
own perception. In the process, he joins Dickens,Tolstoi,
and Dostoyevski, thus becoming not a writer, but a window
that enables us to see face to face what lies behind the
apparencies of life,a gateway that connects us with all
that moves us to and from our ambitions, our own desires.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 11 Aug 2008
This book is probably a masterpiece. One woman's desperate quest for freedom, and the fatal futility of it as she ventures in a wrong direction. It's a tragedy of the human race: too great to live by rules, too small to be free. Overgrown for crude conventions, dwarfed by the challenges when you break them.

Madame Bovary can't bear her mediocre existence. She loathes her role of the wife of a village doctor; she has no regard for her womanly duties; she cares little about public opinion. She breaks free from it all, and how? In the most conventional way: she starts taking lovers. Her affairs bring her no love and only fleeting moments of satisfaction. She eventually incurs debts and poisons herself on the day bailiffs raid her house, unable to take the shame.

Could she be blamed for this amateur attempt to make some sense of her life? What other avenues could she have explored? There were hardly any opportunities open to women those days to establish themselves professionally. She certainly lacked guidance to become a scholar (she did try to read philosophers, but it didn't take off). She also lacked imagination to make something special of her life, and she didn't find any worthy cause.

She was a product of her class, her upbringing and her society, who dared to question its norms. She thought she was breaking free from those norms, but in reality she was reinforcing them. Norms are not imposed externally. They are within you. They are the building material of your psyche, they guide your actions, and this is the tragedy. But it was still a courageous quest.

The author deserves admiration for being so non-judgemental in this sensitive situation. A woman who cheats on her devoted husband, meanwhile squandering his wealth. She, who selfishly drives her child to the life of an orphan and a pauper. But you close the book feeling only sympathy and sadness at the ways of the world. There's not a trace of moralising here, just a human story.

This book is not an entertainment, not a recreational read. At times the prose becomes too heavy, too crowded. Do read it if you're prone to think. Don't read it if you want to kill your time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An 1800's view of a woman's life, 19 Nov 1998
By A Customer
The first literary french novel that proclaims a woman's right in the world. Madame Bovary is a classical novel with the classic point of view of how a woman's life was in the late 19th century: boring. What could a woman do but flounce around her stove and sit around and socially climbing with her friends. Madame Bovary is one of the most exceptionally haunting woman characters ever to become literarily challenging and scary, what drive one psychologically to do what one does, knowing the dangerous consequences. A frightening truthful glance into a woman's life in the late 1800s.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bored Housewife Looking for Fun, 31 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Gustave Flaubert has created an original and somewhat hilarious female character. A tired of her husband young woman who goes out to have affairs, aggravating her husband's life and her own, but for excitement and fun. SOmeone in Madame Bovary's society and position could not risk being caught for stealing, the typical "I am bored and want fun" psycological way of life. So she decides to have an affair with her clergy, a young flutterbug of a man who doesn't know the meaning of the word love, and apparently, Madame Bovary doesn't know it's meaning either.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WIFE SEEKS ADVENTURE FROM ROMANCE NOVELS, 1 Nov 1998
By A Customer
A bored wife of a never home lonesome doctor, Emma seeks to escape from the tiresome and bordom of her life with romantic fantasies and adulterous affairs, created by romance novels she reads, but becomes doomed to disillusionment. Unable to come to terms with reality, Emma is a figure at once noble & banal, tragic & absurd. Flaubert writes an unforgettable classic that has remained one of the most admired and influential novels ever written in my mind. With the parallel and unique 19th century writing, an unusual yet boldfaced novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the most influential novel ever written, 10 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This is not among my few favorite novels, but no one who is sensitive to great literature can fail to see the brilliance of this work. In doing a bit of background work, I made the following discoveries:
Virtually every French writer of the late 19th acknowledged Flaubert as their model. In England, Thomas Hardy essentially tried to write Flaubertian novels in an English rural context. Later in England, D. H. Lawrence explicitly wrote novels that were polemical to Flaubert, so that he wrote in reaction against MADAME BOVARY. In Russia, Tolstoy decided to write his own version of the story of Emma Bovary, ANNA KARENINA. In the 20th century, James Joyce--who was proud of how few writers he had studied--confessed that he had read virtually every line of Flaubert and himself tried to carry to the furthest extreme the Flaubertian dictum of art for arts sake. And this is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Is this the most influential novel ever written? I honestly don't know, but if one wanted to construct a case for that assertion, a very, very powerful one could be made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars CRUSHING THE LIFE OUT OF HURT & PAIN, 31 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Wouldn't you be tired if your doctor of a husband was never home? Well, that's how Madame Bovary feels, and aparently wants to get revenge for. Instead of going out and going on a shopping spree like how many modern day women would go about, she decides to go ahead and produce a dangerous relationship, that will choke and crush the life out of her from regret and defeat. A full blown tragity novel, MADAME BOVARY is the greatest creation of FLAUBERT GUSTAVE. Personally, a beloved classical novel of my own.
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Madame Bovary (Wordsworth Classics)
Madame Bovary (Wordsworth Classics) by Gustave Flaubert (Paperback - 5 Nov 1993)
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