Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
murphs

Madame Bovary

Recommended Posts

I'd read this several years ago and found it dryly funny ;) I wasn't sure how to feel about her either - at times I felt like she deserved what she got, but towards the end I still felt bad for her anyway. Just looked this up and found a list of celebs who marked Mme. Bovary as one of their favourite books - interesting that one of them was Yves Saint-Laurent...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read Madame Bovary about three times now, and it is one of my favorite books!

 

I felt very sorry for her as a character, because she suffered from the 'grass-is-always-greener..' syndrome, and basically nothing was ever going to satisfy her. The touching ways her husband tried to relieve her boredom and make her proud of him were pathetic, because the consequences they produced were even more detrimental to his cause.

 

Her desperate search for emotional satisfaction was very moving since she felt so much was missing from her life in spite of a loving husband and the 'fulfillment' of motherhood. She fails to discern that what she can't appreciate in herself cannot be given to her by others, and is especially naive in the realities of 'love'. Her yearning for the material attributes of prosperity were, once obtained, rendered futile necessitating further gratification. In fact, the futility of all her efforts to escape mediocrity, and her inability to recognize her own inherent narcissism is the essence of this story, to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know how can anyone not like the book - I think it's brilliant. Let's face it Flaubert didn't write that much, but whatever he wrote (and in this case we are tlaking about Madame Bovary) is impeccable in structure and style :)

 

I always wondered why so many people desipised Emma - so what she wanted a little bit of extra ribbon in her life, she was pretty and had high sex drive - nowadays she'd be soooo fine...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I always wondered why so many people desipised Emma - so what she wanted a little bit of extra ribbon in her life, she was pretty and had high sex drive - nowadays she'd be soooo fine...

 

I feel, thanks to Flaubert, that I understand her predicament perfectly. In a sense she is everywoman - and that means everyman too. She's a dreamer and suffers horribly for it, while of course bringing grief to others. She lives when young in the romantic past and in maturity in the impossible future. Her dreams are of love of course - 'Maids in the heat of a summer's day/Dream of love and of love alway' as one translator has it of, if I recall it rightly - and probably have it wrong and lacking the accents: Souvent le chaleur d'un beau jour? Fair rever la fille d'amour.

 

Who cannot sympathise with that? Don't we all?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished this today, it was a reread, although from so long ago that I can't remember how I felt about it at the time.

I didn't like or symapthise with Emma, Charles or any of her men. She was a vapid creature, wanting to fulfill her unhappiness with life with possessions, secret relationships and the need to feel wanted. Much of her relationship with the men, although real, was played out in her head where she created the drama that she so desired in life.

The sad thing about this book is that we see examples of people like this everyday in celebrity magazines, and now these materialistic lives are looked up to and celebrated.

I'll be searching out some of his other fiction in the future.

When I looked this novel up on the interenet, looking for reading group discussion points I saw that this was considered the second most important work of fiction after Anna Karenia, now unless this is because it was risque and a 'modern' novel for the time, I'm not sure I would class it up there with many great classics like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, 1984 etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't like or symapthise with Emma, Charles or any of her men. She was a vapid creature, wanting to fulfill her unhappiness with life with possessions, secret relationships and the need to feel wanted. Much of her relationship with the men, although real, was played out in her head where she created the drama that she so desired in life.

 

I understand and sympathise with that, although I don't admire her. Instead I admire Flaubert for pinning this butterfly so accurately, just as, in other ways he precisely illuminates the bourgeois society around her. OK, so perhaps this is more satire than the warm flesh and blood realism that you get in say Tolstoy, but for what it is, it is to my mind an absolute gem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flaubert, Gustave.  Madame Bovary

 

It took Flaubert five years to write the book, coming after he gave up his law studies and his travels through the Middle East (1849-51).  When it first appeared in parts, published in the Revue de Paris, the content shocked so many readers that the government brought the author to trial.  But he was acquitted and the storm established his reputation and the book was finally published in 1857.  He could be said to have opened the floodgates to the progress of the genre as far as subject matter and treatment are concerned.  The cool acceptance of Emma’s adultery was unprecedented at the time.  Today, 150 years on, it would be quite normal and it is indeed difficult for us, in the wake of Hardy, DH Lawrence and Joyce to see what all the fuss was about. 

 

Emma is seen from her own perspective, while Flaubert himself remains neutral, adopting the oratia obliqua or indirect technique of character portrayal.  ‘She kept saying to herself over and over again, “I have a lover, a lover.a lover.”  And of the church choir, ‘And their voices, their beautiful voices …’ But between these ecstatic outpourings there’s always the regret, the dullness of life alone with good, simple Charles, the rain, the mud, the sheer boredom, until her schemes, dreams and final recklessness almost drive her into the arms of the cunning linen draper, the repulsive Mr L’heureux.  But no, no, no, she would sooner die …

 

As ever precise details convince the reader utterly.  Realism was now in the ascendency and Flaubert’s friends - Turgenev, Zola and George Sand - shared this obsession, and would have approved Flaubert-cum-Emma’s fidelity to the way things are: the pampered but neglected dog, the path to the cemetary through the wood, and the only dark place for the lovers, Emma’s garden. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...