Madame Bovary (Bantam Classics) Paperback – 1 Jan 1920
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"Madame Bovary is like the railroad stations erected in its epoch: graceful, even floral, but cast of iron." -- John Updike
A powerful nineteenth-century French classic depicting the moral degeneration of a weak-willed woman.See all Product description
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This is a very clunky, heavy handed translation which uses unnecessarily abstruse words and deftly manages to render some sentences unintelligible.
But far, far more irritating is the Kindle edition which has a huge number of misspellings which make nonsense of the meaning of a phrase e.g. "along" instead of "alone"; "seem" instead of "seen" ... and many many more.
Flaubert’s passion for ‘le mot juste’ engages the reader , whether describing Madame’s internal angst at being married to a man she no longer loves or his descriptions of a provincial Normandy community where nothing much happens.
Madame Bovary’s ‘ennui’, married to her provincial doctor, steadily gathers pace. The novel’s relatively slow pace reflects this.Hard to believe now that Flaubert’s depiction of an unhappily married woman resulted in a court case and an accusation of immorality.
Madame Bovary’s experience highlights the fact that mores and customs may change with time but human beings,at their core ,still long for fulfillment and a taste of happiness.
Using the Kindle version to reread this novel was an enlightening experience. No need to haul my Larousse around on the back seat of the car to search frantically for the meaning of some , perhaps now defunct, French term. Instead Just connect directly on line to a dictionary.
Finally I am a Kindle Konvert ! Kindle enhanced and facilitated my reading experience.
Madame Bovary craves beauty, wealth, passion, and love, measuring her life against the great epics about which she would read. Dissatisfied, she turns to extramarital affairs, to spending she cannot afford, always reaching farther for her idols only to find them covered in gilt. Her life, empty and dissatisfied as it is, is made vivid by the depth of detail and realism as it is told, culminating in the destruction of the lives of those around her and her own self-destruction.
Flaubert would spend 12 hours a day at his desk, painstakingly attending to detail and searching for le mot juste, the right word. He believed prose should be as perfect as poetry in its word choice, and sought in every sentence to perfectly capture the mood, the atmosphere, and the exact detail of the scene. In doing so, he created an entire literary genre, realist narration.
What makes Madame Bovary so good is that attention to detail. The story was begun by Flaubert at the urging of his friends, who hoped to cure his realism by giving him the dreariest subject they could think of. He does meet their request: little that is out of the ordinary happens in the book, and yet the narrative is compelling as Emma Bovary pursues a downward spiral of vanity and delusion.