Madame Bovary (Collector's Library)

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Overview

Powerful, deeply moving examination of the moral degeneration of a middle-class Frenchwoman.

Bored and unhappy in a lifeless marriage, Emma Bovary yearns to escape from the dull circumstances of provincial life. Flaubert's powerful, deeply moving examination of the moral degeneration of a middle-class Frenchwoman is universally regarded as one of the landmarks of 19th-century fiction.
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Madame Bovary

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Overview

Powerful, deeply moving examination of the moral degeneration of a middle-class Frenchwoman.

Bored and unhappy in a lifeless marriage, Emma Bovary yearns to escape from the dull circumstances of provincial life. Flaubert's powerful, deeply moving examination of the moral degeneration of a middle-class Frenchwoman is universally regarded as one of the landmarks of 19th-century fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760748657
  • Publisher: Sterling Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/21/2003
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Collector's Library
  • Edition description: Pocket-Sized Unabridged Edition
  • Pages: 431

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The uncouth schoolboy; The Bovary household; A mother's ambitions; Studies with the cure; Training for medicine; Student life in Rouen; Failure and success; A practice in Normandy; The bailiff's widow; The first Madame Bovary.

We were in the prep-room when the Head came in, followed by a new boy in mufti and a beadle carrying a big desk. The sleepers aroused themselves, and we all stood up, putting on a startled look, as if we had been buried in our work.

The Head motioned to us to sit down.

'Monsieur Roger,' said he in a quiet tone to the prep master, I've brought you a new boy. He's going into the second. If his conduct and progress are satisfactory, he will be put up with the boys of his own age. '

The new boy had kept in the background, in the corner behind the door, almost out of sight. He was a country lad of about fifteen, and taller than any of us. His hair was clipped straight across the forehead, like a village choirboy's. He seemed a decent enough fellow, but horribly nervous. Although he was not broad across the shoulders, his green cloth jacket, with its black buttons, looked as if it pinched him under the arms and revealed, protruding well beyond the cuffs, a pair of raw, bony wrists, obviously not unaccustomed to exposure. His legs, encased in blue stockings, issued from a pair of drab-coloured breeches, very tightly braced. He had on a pair of thick, clumsy shoes, not particularly well cleaned and plentifully fortified with nails.

The master began to hear the boys at their work. The newcomer listened with all his ears, drinking it in as attentively as if he had been in church, notdaring to cross his legs or to lean his elbows on the desk, and when two o'clock came and the bell rang for dismissal, the master had to call him back to earth and tell him to line up with the rest of us.

It was our custom, when we came in to class, to throw our caps on the floor, in order to have our hands free. As soon as ever we got inside the door, we 'buzzed' them under the form, against the wall, so as to kick up plenty of dust. That was supposed to be 'the thing.' Whether he failed to notice this manoeuvre or whether he was too shy to join in it, it is impossible to say, but when prayers were over he was still nursing his cap. That cap belonged to the composite order of headgear, and in it the heterogeneous characteristics of the busby, the Polish shapska, the bowler, the otterskin toque and the cotton nightcap were simultaneously represented. It was, in short, one of those pathetic objects whose mute unloveliness conveys the infinitely wistful expression we may sometimes note on the face of an idiot. Ovoid in form and stiffened with whalebone, it began with a sort of triple line of sausage-shaped rolls running all round its circumference; next, separated by a red band, came alternate patches of velvet and rabbit-skin; then a kind of bag or sack which culminated in a stiffened polygon elaborately embroidered, whence, at the end of a long, thin cord, hung a ball made out of gold wire, by way of a tassel. The cap was brand-new, and the peak of it all shiny.

'Stand up,' said the master.

He stood up, and down went his cap. The whole class began to laugh.

He bent down to recover it. One of the boys next to him jogged him with his elbow and knocked it down again. Again he stooped to pick it up.

'You may discard your helmet,' said the master, who had a pretty wit.

A shout of laughter from the rest of the class quite put the poor fellow out of countenance, and so flustered was he that he didn't know whether to keep it in his hand, put it on the floor or stick it on his head. He sat down and deposited it on his knees.

'Stand up,' said the master again, 'and tell me your name.'

In mumbling tones the new boy stammered out something quite unintelligible.

'Again!'

Again came the inarticulate mumble, drowned by the shouts of the class.

'Louder!' rapped out the master sharply. 'Speak up!'

Whereupon the boy, in desperation, opened his jaws as wide as they would go and, with the full force of his lungs, as though he were hailing somebody at a distance, fired off the word 'Charbovari.'

In an instant the class was in an uproar. The din grew louder and louder, a ceaseless crescendo crested with piercing yells--they shrieked, they howled, they stamped their feet, bellowing at the top of their voices: 'Charbovari! Charbovari!' Then, after a while, the storm began to subside. There would be sporadic outbreaks from time to time, smothered by a terrific effort, or perhaps a titter would fizz along a whole row, or a stifled explosion sputter out here and there, like a half-extinguished fuse.

However, beneath a hail of 'impositions,' order was gradually restored. The master--who had had it dictated, spelled out and read over to him--had at length succeeded in getting hold of the name of Charles Bovary, and forthwith he ordered the hapless wretch to go and sit on the dunce's stool, immediately below the seat of authority. He started to obey, stopped short and stood hesitating.

'What are you looking for?' said the master.

'My ca--' began the new boy timidly, casting an anxious glance around him.

An angry shout of 'Five hundred lines for the whole class' checked, like the Quos ego, a fresh outburst. 'Stop your noise, then, will you?' continued the master indignantly, mopping his brow with a handkerchief which he had produced from the interior of his cap.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 126 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(32)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 126 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2006

    Genius Work Exposing Human Frailty & Cautionary Tale of Poor Judgement

    Charles, Madame Bovary's husband, is not the brightest of creatures, but he dearly loves his wife, puts her on a pedastal, and indulges her by giving her whatever she wants. Although she repays his loyalty and quiet devotion with emotional, financial and physical ruin, his love is steadfast, pure and true. The title is 'Madame Bovary' but the real hero is her sweet kind husband Charles and, to a lesser extent her child, Berthe, who loves her mother unconditionally despite the fact that her mother hardly seems to truly care about anyone but herself. I have heard that one mark of great literature is that its value changes with a reader in direct relationship to the reader's life circumstances and experience. To a very young reader growing up in a time when cell phones, the Internet, and Nintendo are all old school inventions, this book may seem irrelevant. It makes sense that the very young may have extreme difficulty relating. However, given the maturity, serious study and reflection on human interactions, emotions, and the ability to foresee consequences, a more experienced reader and lifelong student will find themes that transcend the test of time. (Such as self-control, generosity of heart, the consequences of infidelity and other forms of impulsivity, loneliness, boredom, what makes a person ordinary vs. extraordinary, etc.) Which brings me to another point I understand about great literature: it stands the test of time. Written in 1857, then banned in France for 'offenses against public morals and religion' then later considered brilliant by his peers and great writers that followed, this book very easily fits into the category of 'great literature.' Like others have said, if one will only SLOW DOWN and deeply consider each event and how it relates to other events both in the book and in present-day reality, one can find great lessons on morality and the human condition that transcend time. (These same things may be said about many other great works, such as any number of those by Shakespeare.) Yes, one can learn a great deal about humanity in this book, if it is given the fair chance it deserves. And hey, if you get little from it now, don't write it off forever--revisit it in 5 or 10 years and see if this book says something different to you then. A marvelous classic!!! Flaubert was a genius!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Love the French

    I agree with the second review, very fine novel. Flaubert's talent for description is something few (or none) are able to do today. Some may have a problem with the great detail, however if there are any interested in the nineteenth century and how people lived and breathed, this novel should certainly help. (Other than Flaubert, I might also recommend Balzac for having much of the same gift for realism.) Brilliant book, full of sensuality, but not without its darkness. Easily one of the best I have ever read.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Madame Boring

    I don't see how this book can be deemed one of the best novels ever written. It was a long snooze fest until about half way through the book. So if you can make it to half way you will start liking it! However, even past the half way point I found this book dull and sometimes predictable. It's not really about anything except a wife who cheats on her husband with different 'lovers'. The only thing I'm happy about is that I get to check this off my list of classics to read, but this is definitely not one I'll be re-reading!

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2008

    Brilliant perfection

    This is the best book I have read in a while. The French tend to write in a flowery and beautiful style that can entertain the toughest of critics. It is delicately permiscuous and extremely interesting. Bravo, Flaubert!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Don't bother with other translations...

    I have read "Madame Bovary" in the original more than once, and have read two other translations of the text. Lydia Davis's is by far the best. She makes available to the reader of English what Flaubert's intent--not just his words. Wonderful and eye-opening!

    "Madame Bovary" is a true world classic and deserves every reader's attention.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Classic

    Emma Bovary believes love and marriage are supposed to be like a flowery romance novel, and is she in for disappointment! She expects marriage to a doctor to provide her with all the adoration and frivolities she desires, but finds that real life can never live up to her fantasies. She involves herself in affairs to fill the emptiness at the expense of a man who truly adores her. She is an actress, the stage is her actual life, and her end is like a tragic heroine...just like she wanted! Amazing cautionary tale, even in the 21st century!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2008

    I Declare Myself Dissapointed!

    This book held great potential and the writing was beautiful, but it left me dissatisfied. This was due to its painful redundancy when referring to her affairs. Madame Bovary was about a young women in an unfulfilling marriage that left her in a tragic state of boredom. However she would not be denied her passion which she wished so strongly for. She had two affairs and both were so similar in the end that were begging for something more. The ending was depressing, but the moral that it conveyed I must say was the most satisfying part. Over all I truly wish Flaubert would have done more. I declare myself dissapointed.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2007

    Tragic and Passionate

    Madame Bovary is a story of passion, adventure, and desire as Emma Bovary is a young woman filled with romantic fantasies and in need of great excitement however she finds herself bored in a dull relationship. She takes these desires and indulges them in a series of affairs. Gustave Flaubert¿s imagery and symbolism throughout the novel characterize Emma, and the tone of the book changes as much as Emma¿s personality and mood. Towards the beginning of the novel, the reader will feel sympathy for Emma due to the lack of attention from her husband, Charles however, one cannot help but to grow a disliking and annoyance of Emma as she desperately throws herself at other men for attention and treats her caring, kind husband harshly. Flaubert emphasizes the importance of the choices one makes and how they will affect you sooner or later, whether it be lying to a spouse or pushing away the one¿s that truly love you. Emma finds herself alone, desperate, and full of melancholy as her tangled web of lies create more problems, getting her deeper and deeper into trouble. Though the ending is depressing, it brings an uplifting feeling that shows Charles¿s never ending love for Emma and warns the reader of the hardships deceit can bring. Madame Bovary is interesting and full of an excitement that keep the pages turning, and though it isn¿t my favorite book, it is good novel that gives an insight in life and teaches a great lesson of human folly.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    Anon

    Do not download!! Book is incomplete.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2007

    Good for the wrong reasons

    I have put off reading this for years, having listened to others absolutely salivate over it. I find the heroine devoid of anything that commands interest or respect. People comment on how controversial Flaubert was on writing about adultery the way he does-however, how dangerous is it really to give a character come-uppance by poisoning her for her two affairs? Ooh! Flaubert, if you wanted to really frighten people, how about making one of her affairs into a happy relationship with no regrets and let Charles die anyway? It's a cautionary tale however you look at it-working people, get above your station and this is what happens... Emma, get over it. You don't have to rise at 5 to plough the land and milk the cows, as would have been your fate as a farm girl. You have a secure home, a little girl, (although you show pathological indifference, you sometimes show flashes that you care for her),and a husband that adores you. Channel your imagination into something other than wasted fantasies. No matter how pathetic a woman is,and we've all met them, she inevitably finds something to do with her life. This is not a convincing portrayal of depression either, if that's what the defenders of this novel would argue. However, I was utterly charmed by the minutiae of country life, the petty things upon which people placed importance, the pictures of the land, the food, the traditions. Truly the highlight of the book. Also flawed is the way that the reader is catapulted into how the heroine feels-we are expected to understand and if not sympathise, at least relate. there is no slow build-up. The reminiscings about the convent are wasted too-so, she refinds religion later, as a nod to her forgotten childhood? Weak.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2007

    One of the best-written books I've ever read

    Falubert is a master of clearly depicting physical, emotional and visual details. It's a painful predicament we find Emma Bovary in, but she is of free will makes her own choices. Don't let the subject of this book dissuade you. If you like great reading, Madame Bovary is a must.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2012

    Read this on college

    Read this book years ago and quite frankly detested the book. I almost gave up but i persevered and the ending was most satisfying in that it was over.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    not so good

    I read this as a school study... it gets alright in the middle, but I really had to push my way through. I'm not sure why this is considered to be such a 'classic'.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Bad translation!

    This ebook is a horrible translation of Flaubert's great novel. It reads as if the publisher used google translate and didn't review the final product. Obvious errors such as "enfin" presented as "in fine" instead of "therefore," "le cure' " presented as "the village cure" instead of "the village priest" are inaccurate and inexcusable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Hey faith

    Can you write about jb having sex and blojobs and stuff with brooklyn?please?:)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013

    Hi fath

    Can u write one about having sex

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2013

    Phenomenal Translation

    I was reading a free (or nearly free) public domain version of this classic novel on my Nook but got tired of the stilted and awkward translation. I eventually switched to the Lydia Davis translation and am very glad I did. This translation really makes the novel come alive for readers in English. Flaubert was a groundbreaking novelist whose work still resonates today - this translation makes that clear.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    Not the full book

    This is just a sample of the novel and not the full book--was not advertised as sample only.

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  • Posted June 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    My God...

    I never though I would read a book where I would hate every single character, but that was before I read Madame Bovary.

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  • Posted March 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Make sure you get either the Geoffrey Wall translation or the la

    Make sure you get either the Geoffrey Wall translation or the latest, Lydia Davis'. I don't see why Barnes & Noble makes it so difficult to find different versions of the same book. I added them as recommendations so you should be able to click on the image to the left to find the better translations.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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