Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

3.4 203
by Gustave Flaubert

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Emma, a passionate dreamer raised in the French countryside, is ready for her life to take off when she marries the decent, dull Dr. Charles Bovary. Marriage, however, fails to live up to her expectations, which are fueled by sentimental novels, and she turns disastrously to love affairs. The story of Emma’s adultery scandalized France when Madame

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Emma, a passionate dreamer raised in the French countryside, is ready for her life to take off when she marries the decent, dull Dr. Charles Bovary. Marriage, however, fails to live up to her expectations, which are fueled by sentimental novels, and she turns disastrously to love affairs. The story of Emma’s adultery scandalized France when Madame Bovary was first published. Today, the heartbreaking story of Emma’s financial ruin remains just as compelling.

In Madame Bovary, his story of a shallow, deluded, unfaithful, but consistently compelling woman living in the provinces of nineteenth-century France, Gustave Flaubert invented not only the modern novel but also a modern attitude toward human character and human experience that remains with us to this day.

One of the rare works of art that it would be fair to call perfect, Madame Bovary has had an incalculable influence on the literary culture that followed it. This translation, by Francis Steegmuller, is acknowledged by common consensus as the definitive English rendition of Flaubert’s text.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Madame Bovary is] a surprisingly romantic and deeply moving text, as well as a work of pioneering modernity. . . Flaubert’s anti-heroic heroine in fact acquires a haunting nobility through her relentless quest for the absolute of experience.” –from the Introduction by Victor Brombert
Library Journal
Kate Reading narrates Davis's tightly woven and highly accessible new translation of Flaubert's 1857 literary classic, in which the title character, a middle-class, bored, self-centered woman who is desperately seeking a purpose in life, instead finds herself in a destructive arc. Both translator and reader have won numerous awards for their respective previous works, and this collaboration results in an audio performance that is both polished and engaging. Warmly recommended for any non-French speaker interested in literary classics. [Alternate recordings of previous translations are available from Blackstone Audio, as read by Simon Vance, and from Tantor Audio, as read by Donada Peters.—Ed.]—I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Everyman's Library
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 2.80(d)

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Part One

We were in study hall when the headmaster walked in, followed by a new boy not wearing a school uniform, and by a janitor carrying a large desk. Those who were sleeping awoke, and we all stood up as though interrupting our work.

The headmaster motioned us to sit down, then turned to the teacher and said softly, "Monsieur Roger, I'm placing this pupil in your care. He'll begin in the eighth grade, but if his work and conduct are good enough, he'll be promoted to where he ought to be at his age."

The newcomer hung back in the corner behind the door, so that we could hardly see him. He was a country boy of about fifteen, taller than any of us. He wore his hair cut straight across the forehead, like a cantor in a village church, and he had a gentle, bewildered look. Although his shoulders were not broad, his green jacket with black buttons was apparently too tight under the arms, and the slits of its cuffs revealed red wrists accustomed to being bare. His legs, sheathed in blue stockings, protruded from his yellowish trousers, which were pulled up tight by a pair of suspenders. He wore heavy, unpolished, hobnailed shoes.

We began to recite our lessons. He concentrated all his attention on them, as though listening to a sermon, not daring even to cross his legs or lean on his elbow, and when the bell rang at two o'clock the teacher had to tell him to line up with the rest of us.

When we entered a classroom we always tossed our caps on the floor, to free our hands; as soon as we crossed the threshold we would throw them under the bench so hard that they struck the wall and raised a cloud of dust; this was "the way it should be done."

But the new boy either failed to notice this maneuver or was too shy to perform it himself, for he was still holding his cap on his lap at the end of the prayer. It was a head-gear of composite nature, combining elements of the busby, the lancer cap, the round hat, the otter-skin cap and the cotton nightcap--one of those wretched things whose mute ugliness has great depths of expression, like an idiot's face. Egg-shaped and stiffened by whalebone, it began with three rounded bands, followed by alternating diamond-shaped patches of velvet and rabbit fur separated by a red stripe, and finally there was a kind of bag terminating in a cardboard-lined polygon covered with complicated braid. A network of gold wire was attached to the top of this polygon by a long, extremely thin cord, forming a kind of tassel. The cap was new; its visor was shiny.

"Stand up," said the teacher.

He stood up; his cap fell. The whole class began to laugh.

He bent down and picked it up. A boy beside him knocked it down again with his elbow; he picked it up once again.

"Will you please put your helmet away?" said the teacher, a witty man.

A loud burst of laughter from the other pupils threw the poor boy into such a state of confusion that he did not know whether to hold his cap in his hand, leave it on the floor or put it on his head. He sat down again and put it back on his lap.

"Stand up," said the teacher, "and tell me your name."

The new boy mumbled something unintelligible.

"Say it again!"

The same mumbled syllables came from his lips again, drowned out by the jeers of the class.

"Louder!" cried the teacher. "Louder!"

With desperate determination the new boy opened his enormous mouth and, as though calling someone, shouted this word at the top of his lungs: "Charbovari!"

This instantly touched off an uproar which rose in a crescendo of shrill exclamations, shrieks, barks, stamping of feet and repeated shouts of "Charbovari! Charbovari!" Then it subsided into isolated notes, but it was a long time before it died down completely; it kept coming back to life in fits and starts along a row of desks where a stifled laugh would occasionally explode like a half-spent firecracker.

A shower of penalties gradually restored order in the classroom, however, and the teacher, having managed to understand Charles Bovary's name after making him repeat it, spell it out and read it to him, immediately ordered the poor devil to sit on the dunce's seat at the foot of the rostrum. He began to walk over to it, then stopped short.

"What are you looking for?" asked the teacher.

"My ca--" the new boy said timidly, glancing around uneasily."

The whole class will copy five hundred lines!" Like Neptune's "Quos ego" in the Aeneid, this furious exclamation checked the outbreak of a new storm. "Keep quiet!" continued the teacher indignantly, mopping his forehead with a handkerchief he had taken from his toque. "As for you," he said to the new boy, "you will write out 'Ridiculus sum' twenty times in all tenses." He added, in a gentler tone, "Don't worry, you'll find your cap: it hasn't been stolen."

Everything became calm again. Heads bent over notebooks, and for the next two hours the new boy's conduct was exemplary, despite the spitballs, shot from the nib of a pen, that occasionally splattered against his face. He merely wiped himself with his hand each time this happened, then continued to sit motionless, with his eyes lowered.

That evening, in study hall, he took sleeveguards from his desk, put his things in order and carefully ruled his paper. We saw him working conscientiously, looking up all the words in the dictionary and taking great pains with everything he did. It was no doubt because of this display of effort that he was not placed in a lower grade, for, while he had a passable knowledge of grammatical rules, his style was without elegance. He had begun to study Latin with his village priest, since his parents, to save money, had postponed sending him off to school as long as possible.

His father, Monsieur Charles-Denis-Bartholomé Bovary, had once been an assistant surgeon in the army. Forced to leave the service in 1812 for corrupt practices with regard to conscription, he had taken advantage of his masculine charms to pick up a dowry of sixty thousand francs being offered to him in the person of a hosier's daughter who had fallen in love with his appearance. He was a handsome, boastful man who liked to rattle his spurs; his side whiskers joined his mustache, his fingers were always adorned with rings and he wore bright-colored clothes. He had the look of a pimp and the affable exuberance of a traveling salesman. He lived on his wife's money for the first two or three years of their marriage, eating well, getting up late, smoking big porcelain pipes, staying out every night to see a show and spending a great deal of time in cafés. His father-in-law died and left very little; indignant at this, he "went into the textile business" and lost some money, then he moved to the country, where he intended to "build up a going concern." But since he knew little more about farming than he did about calico, since he rode his horses instead of sending them off to work in the fields, drank his bottled cider instead of selling it, ate the finest poultry in his barnyard and greased his hunting shoes with the fat of his pigs, he soon realized that he would do well to give up all thought of business endeavor.

So for two hundred francs a year he rented a residence that was half farm and half gentleman's estate, on the border between Picardy and the Caux region of Normandy. Melancholy, consumed with regrets, cursing heaven, envious of everyone, he withdrew into seclusion at the age of forty-five, disgusted with mankind, he said, and resolved to live in peace.

His wife had been mad about him in the beginning; she had loved him with a boundless servility that made him even more indifferent to her. She had been vivacious, expansive and brimming over with affection in her youth, but as she grew older she became peevish, nagging and nervous, like sour wine turning to vinegar. She had suffered so much at first without complaining, watching him run after every village strumpet in sight and having him come home to her every night, satiated and stinking of alcohol, after carousing in a score of ill-famed establishments! Then her pride rebelled; she withdrew into herself, swallowing her rage with a mute stoicism which she maintained until her death. She was always busy with domestic and financial matters. She was constantly going to see lawyers or the judge, remembering when notes were due and obtaining renewals; and at home she spent all her time ironing, sewing, washing, supervising the workmen and settling the itemized bills they presented to her, while Monsieur, totally unconcerned with everything and continually sinking into a sullen drowsiness from which he roused himself only to make disagreeable remarks to her, sat smoking beside the fire and spitting into the ashes.

When she had a child it had to be placed in the care of a wet-nurse. The boy was pampered like a prince when he came back to live with them. His mother fed him on jam and candied fruit; his father let him run barefoot and even carried his philosophical pretensions to the point of saying that he might as well go naked, like a young animal. In opposition to his wife's maternal tendencies, he had a certain virile ideal of childhood, and he tried to form his son in accordance with it. He wanted him to be raised harshly, Spartan-style, in order to give him a sturdy constitution. He sent him to bed without a fire, taught him to take hearty swigs of rum and to jeer at religious processions. But, placid by nature, the child showed little response to his father's efforts. His mother kept him tied to her apron-strings; she cut out cardboard figures for him, told him stories and talked to him in endless monologues full of melancholy gaiety and wheedling chatter. In the isolation of her life she transferred all her shattered, abandoned ambitions to her child. She dreamed of high positions, she saw him already grown up, handsome and witty, making a successful career for himself in the Department of Civil Engineering or the magistracy. She taught him to read and even to sing two or three sentimental songs, using an old piano she had. But Monsieur Bovary, who cared little for culture, maintained that such things were "a waste of time." Would they ever have enough money to put him through the government schools, buy him a government position or set him up in business? Besides, "a man could always get ahead in life if he had enough nerve." Madame Bovary bit her lips and the boy continued to run wild in the village.

He tagged after the farmhands and drove the crows away by throwing clods of earth at them. He ate the blackberries growing along the ditches, kept watch over the turkeys with a long stick, pitched hay during harvest time, wandered through the woods, played hopscotch under the church porch on rainy days and, on important holidays, begged the sexton to let him toll the bells, so that he could hang his whole body on the thick rope and feel it lift him into the air when the bells were ringing in full peal.

Thus he grew like an oak. He acquired strong hands and a healthy complexion.

When he was twelve his mother succeeded in arranging for him to begin his education. The village priest agreed to give him lessons. But they were so short and irregular that they accomplished very little. The priest gave them in the sacristy, at odd moments, between a christening and a funeral, hurriedly, without even sitting down; or else he sent for his pupil after the Angelus, on evenings when he did not have to go out. They would go up to his bedroom and set to work while the gnats and moths flew around the candle. It was warm there; the boy would fall asleep and the old man, his hands folded over his stomach, would soon doze off and begin snoring with his mouth open. At other times, when the priest was on his way back to the village after giving the Eucharist to some sick person in the vicinity, he would catch sight of Charles frolicking in the fields, call him over, lecture him for several minutes and take advantage of the opportunity to make him conjugate a verb beneath a tree. They would be interrupted by rain, or some acquaintance passing by. He was always satisfied with his pupil, however, and even said that the "young man" had a good memory.

Charles's mother was determined that he should not stop there. Ashamed, or rather weary, his father gave in without further resistance. They waited another year, until the boy had made his First Communion.

Six more months went by; then, the following year, Charles was finally sent to the lycée in Rouen. His father took him there himself toward the end of October, during the Saint-Romain fair.

It would now be hard for any of us to remember very much about him. He was a boy of moderate temperament; he played during recess, worked in study hall, listened in class, slept well in the dormitory and ate heartily in the dining hall. His temporary guardian was a wholesale hardware dealer on the Rue Ganterie who called for him once a month, on a Sunday, after his shop was closed, and sent him off to take a walk along the waterfront to look at the boats, then brought him back to school at seven o'clock, before supper. Every Thursday evening he wrote a long letter to his mother, using red ink and three sealing wafers; then he would go over his history notebooks or read an old volume of Anacharsis that lay around in the study hall. During class outings he talked with the servant, a countryman like himself.

By working hard he always managed to keep himself somewhere near the middle of the class; once he even earned an honorable mention in natural history. But when he had finished the tenth grade his parents took him out of the lycée and put him in medical school, confident that he would be able to get his baccalaureate degree by his own efforts.

His mother rented a room for him in the house of a dyer with whom she was acquainted. It was on the fifth floor, overlooking the brook known as the Eau-de-Robec. She made arrangements for his board, got him a table and two chairs and sent home for an old cherrywood bed. She also bought a small cast-iron stove and a supply of firewood so that her poor boy could keep himself warm. Then she left at the end of the week, after urging him countless times to behave himself now that he was going to be on his own.

He was staggered by the list of courses he read on the bulletin board: anatomy, pathology, physiology, pharmacy, chemistry, botany, clinical practice and therapeutics, not to mention hygiene and materia medica; to him these were all words of unknown etymology, and they were like so many doors leading into sanctuaries full of solemn shadows.

The lectures were equally baffling; he listened attentively but understood nothing. He worked hard just the same. He took notes, went to all his classes and never missed a single visit to the hospital. He performed his daily tasks like a mill horse walking blindfolded in a circle, ignorant of what he is grinding.

To save him money, his mother sent him a veal roast by the stagecoach each week. He had some of it for lunch every day when he came in from the hospital, kicking the mud off his shoes as he ate. Then he would hurry off again, walking all over town to go to lectures, the amphitheater or another hospital, and finally walking home at the end of the day. In the evening, after the meager dinner his landlord served him, he climbed back up to his room and went to work again, his damp clothes steaming as he sat in front of the red-hot stove.

On clear summer evenings, at the hour when the warm streets are deserted and servant girls are playing battledore and shuttlecock in front of the houses, he would open his window and look out, leaning on his elbows. The brook, which makes this part of Rouen a kind of sordid little Venice, flowed past below him, yellow, violet or blue between its bridges and railings. Workmen, squatting on the bank, were washing their arms in the water. Draped over poles projecting from attics, skeins of cotton were drying in the open air. Opposite him, beyond the rooftops, the vast, pure sky stretched out, and the setting sun cast a reddish glow. How pleasant it must be out there, how cool in the beech grove! He opened his nostrils wide, trying to breathe in the good odors of the country, but they were too far away to reach him.

He became thinner and taller, and his face took on a kind of pained expression which made it almost interesting.

His natural irresponsibility eventually led him to break all his good resolutions. One day he missed a visit to the hospital, the next day a lecture; he liked this first taste of idleness and gradually abandoned his courses altogether.

He began going to taverns and developed a passion for dominoes. To spend every evening shut up in a dirty public room, clicking black-dotted pieces of sheep bone on a marble tabletop, seemed to him a precious exercise of his freedom, and it increased his self-esteem. It was like an initiation into the world, an admission into a realm of forbidden pleasures; and he felt an almost sensual delight each time he took hold of the doorknob to enter the tavern. Many things formerly pent up inside him now burst into the open; he learned verses by heart and sang them at parties, became an enthusiastic admirer of Béranger, learned how to make punch and finally came to know the pleasures of love.

Thanks to this preparatory work, he failed miserably when he took his examination to qualify as an officier de santé.* And his parents were expecting him to come home that very night to celebrate his success!

He set out on foot and stopped at the outskirts of his village. He sent for his mother and told her everything. She excused him, blaming his failure on the unfairness of the examiners, and reassured him a little by promising to smooth things over.

Monsieur Bovary did not learn the truth until five years later; it was an old story by then and he accepted it, especially since he could not admit the possibility that his own offspring might be stupid.

Charles set to work again and ceaselessly crammed for his examination, memorizing the answers to all the questions in advance. He passed with a fairly good grade. What a proud day for his mother! She gave a large dinner party.

Where should he go to practice his new profession? To Tostes. The town had only one elderly doctor. Madame Bovary had been awaiting his death for a long time, and the old man had not yet given up the ghost when Charles moved in across the road as his successor.

But it was not enough to have raised a son, sent him to medical school and discovered Tostes for him to practice in: he needed a wife. She found him one: a Dieppe bailiff's widow, forty-five years old, with a yearly income of twelve hundred francs.

Although she was ugly and thin as a rail, with pimples blossoming on her face like buds in springtime, Madame Dubuc had no shortage of suitors to choose from. Madame Bovary had to oust them all to achieve her purpose; her skill was particularly evident in the way she foiled the schemes of a butcher who had the backing of the clergy.

Charles had envisaged marriage as the beginning of a more pleasant life, feeling that he would be freer and able to dispose of his time and money as he saw fit. But it was his wife who ruled: in front of other people he had to say this and not say that, he had to eat fish every Friday, dress the way she wanted him to and follow her orders in dunning patients who had not paid their bills. She opened his letters, spied on him and listened through the thin wall when women came to his office.

She had to have her hot chocolate every morning, and endless other attentions. She was constantly complaining about her nerves, her chest, her dizzy spells or her fits of depression. The sound of footsteps was painful to her; when people stayed away from her she found her solitude unbearable; when they came to see her it was no doubt because they wanted to watch her die. When Charles came home at night her long, thin arms would emerge from beneath the covers and twine around his neck; after making him sit down on the edge of the bed, she would begin to tell him of her woes: he was neglecting her, he was in love with another woman! She should have listened when people warned her she'd be unhappy! And then she would end by asking him for some kind of tonic to make her feel better, and a little more love.

*A man authorized to practice medicine without an M.D. degree.--L.B.

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From the Publisher
"Madame Bovary is like the railroad stations erected in its epoch: graceful, even floral, but cast of iron." — John Updike

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Madame Bovary 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 203 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
fudgemuffin More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reviewers of the day were right to say that the Seine, which flowed below Flaubert's window, influenced the work. I believe it. The slow and easy rhythm of the novel carries you on and on, like the current of a large stream. The prose is ever-flowing, seemingly devolving without seeking an end, its goal so far removed from any indivudual part of the novel, it is impossible to see it until you near the estuary of the literary stream, the end, and then you think, 'Of course. Her death was inevitable, as inevitable as water flowing down to the sea. The world is the world. It has rules, unwritten, which are unbendable.' Although the novel is tedious in the accuracy of its scene descriptions, the malaise is soon forgotten when one remembers that Flaubert wrote in the days before television, for a public thirsting for visual descriptions, a public wanting to see inside Emma's house, inside the Marquis' castle, inside the bedrooms where she cheats. But even in these lengthy paragraphs, the rhythm never relents, each item chosen carefully, each phrase crafted skilfully to show the folly of society in letting the media of the day manipulate men, women, and children into wanting the impossible.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At times reading this book felt a bit like a chore that I had brought upon myself, but I couldn't put it down once I got halfway through. A book that makes the reader really ponder the character's motives and traits can only be a good one. And that important questioning of human morality and rationality is precisely what 'Madame Bovary' does.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not quite know what to expect, not having read any Flaubert before. I could feel the seething hatred for the societal values that prevailed at the time. All the characters are caricatures drawn from real people that Flaubert knew, yet he impressed his agenda on the plot. I enjoyed myself, and I see why this was a classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't read Madame Bovary for the plot. In this day and age, extra-marital affairs aren't as scandalous as they once were, and in the pastoral setting not all that much happens. But the true beauty of the book lies in Flaubert's characters, especially Emma, a woman who seems to methodically destroy herself and everyone around her. This process is disturbing, but at the same fascinating, because all though her behavior is extreme, the desire to leave everything behind in pursuit of (often hopeless) dreams is not so uncommon.
snowbird922 More than 1 year ago
Emma Bovary was completely self absorbed in what the fantasy of love should be while letting her family life deteriorate slowly for her own pleasures. Charles was a very weak man he let everyone control him especially his wife. What I didn't like is the writer spent lots of time on the characters and places which is all well but I think a little more description of the relationship between Emma and Charles would have been much better. By the end of the book I was tired of hearing any thing that character Homais had to say he was a pompous and arrogant know it all. I have heard a lot about the translation making this a hard read that wasn't the case for me it was the lengthy moments he spent on situations that did not have any impact on the main characters Emma & Charles. The book ended disastrously for the daughter which made me feel even more contempt for Emma's character as well as Charles at least he could have tried to live for his daughter she was the real victim in this story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was eager to read Madame Bovary after finishing Little Children, Tom Perotta. Parts of the novel were so borning, but I pushed through. I did read somewhere that Flaubert was trying to convey in those parts how boring Emma felt in her own life. You did get caught up in the action of the novel through the writing style. I would venture to say that Emma had some type of manic/anxiety disorder mixed with her own selfish desires and a lack of conscience that drove her to the ends of her wits. I still don't know how I feel about Emma as a character. You could literally feel her discontent and meloncholy. I guess that's the mark of a good novel-one that leaves you unsure and disturbed by aspects of humanity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Emma character is not wonderful at all but you can't stop yourself for being sorry for her. She is trapped in a time where women didn't have right to escape their lot in life. This book open a new door for appreciating womans suffrage.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Madame Bovary is an extraordinary book both for the nineteenth century and the present times. Interesting story line and characters make this classic easy to read. The irony of the entire plot made this a book which I could not put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a classic, and yet I am the first to write a review. What a shame. Mark Twain once said a classic is what everyone esteems, but no one reads. Too bad that this has to be grouped into that category. When I read this book, last Christmas, I anticipated an orgy...a book that had not much merit, but was widely read because of it's shocking subject. I was wrong. Classics are classics for a reason. It's not just about plot. It's not just about character...Flaubert wrote with flinching honesty, and how he understood the psyche of young, frustrated wives is beyond me. The urgency, the feeling that time is just running away with any chance of happiness...the longing to be known, to sadness at realizing greatness has slipped from grasp. We start off wanting feeling...and we end like blind men...searching for anything that slightly resembles it and gain only the opposite. Another question the book forces the reader to ask herself/ himself is whether emotion can really be trusted, or whether it is merely manifestation of what the mind knows and THINKS it wants. Just an overall tremendous read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book about a week ago and have been mystified and entranced by its beauty and captivating voluptuousness.
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
This classic novel is about a sensual woman in search of herself. Parts of it are beautiful, and still hold up over time.  Others, not so much. I got glimpses inside Madame Bovary's head, I got the idea that the author was trying to understand women, or at least, one woman (notes suggest similarities to a relationship between Flaubert and his mistress). Sometimes she is sympathetic, sometimes she is despicable, sometimes she is simply a cipher. The tragic ending is inevitable, as Emma Bovary never knows what, exactly, she is seeking. Not sure if there isn't some slightly revengeful satisfaction by the author in the many pages of the character's long, agonizing death throes, but... *shrugging* I am not sure what the takeaway message is, what I am supposed to have learned about life, but as a classic, it is worth reading at least once, and I am sure parts of it will continue to haunt me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
So this is the classics version of Revolutionary Road. Emma Bovary is the depressed, bored housewife of a country doctor. She longs for more out of life and is deeply disappointed with the direction of her life. She wants to dance, wear the latest fashions, and mingle amongst the best of society. At first, she resigns herself to her sacrifice, thinking it will buy her a place in heaven. Her husband, the kindly, portly Doctor Charles Bovary is blind to all that is happening. He believes Emma to be happy and contented. This, of course, serves only to alienate Emma all the more. Emma quickly learns that martyrdom does not come naturally for her and chooses instead to indulge herself. She meets Rudolph and engages in a four year affair with him. She becomes clingy and desperate. She wants to leave to Paris with Rudolph and aggressively pursues that end. Rudolph leads her along but Emma was never nothing more than a passing diversion for him and he leaves her high and dry. Emma throws herself into her depression with the same passion she approaches everything and fall into ill health. Along comes Leon, a man she was attracted to back in her martyrdom days. This time around, she chooses to engage and in doing so, denies herself nothing. She makes extravagant purchases and even becomes so bold as to not come home on certain nights. She lives so lavishly and recklessly her creditors come knocking. Poor Charles has to come to terms with his wife's indiscretions.  On the one hand, this novel was frustrating because Emma is such an unlikeable character. She is weak of character and selfish. She cares nothing of her husband and child and cares only of her pleasures. On the other hand, the novel is so beautifully written and entertaining. Every sentence is like poetry. Flaubert's book is a classic for a reason. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very interesting.  I enjoyed reading it because it had such an amazing take on the characters point of view.  I believe that the author was very successful in the sense that he was able to depict a character who truly wants to be happy and truly wants to live in her dreams but is unable to.  Charles Bovary isn’t the smartest but he is able to try to be the best that he cans.  He falls deeply for emma and loves her dearly and at first emma thinks her love for him could be a possibility but while Charles embraces her and all that she is, Emma continues to try and push him further away.  Thinking to herself why can’t he be this or that.  Why must he be who he is.  Why can’t he be better educated.  However her husband continues his love for her and continues to put up with her even when she does nothing but wrong to him.  The author truly has a way with words in this novel from his characterization to the the different themes and meanings.  I believe that in order to gain a better understanding of this book it is also necessary to read with an open mind.  This is because all of the characters run their lives by what they feel they deserve. I rated this book as a 3 out of 5 because even though this book was of the greater quality it wasn’t something that was able to capture my eye as much as i hoped that it would.  I enjoyed reading it.   I enjoyed the characters. {or at least most of the characters}.  But there was something about the book that made me think this is not as good as i thought it was going to be.  While Flaubert’s writing is of the most exquisiteness I feel as if there was more base in the story and just a little more it would’ve added to the spots where I was just unintrigued. Likewise the characters really grow on you.  You fall in love with half the characters and then the other half you just wish they weren’t there anymore because they start to get on your nerves.
Cdarr More than 1 year ago
Madam Bovary, herself, was a spoil ed woman in love with love. It's a shame that she never wanted it from a husband who adored her.
marmendy35 More than 1 year ago
I did like this book, but like many classics, it is hard to deal with the detailed descriptions and scenes that sometimes drag (I suspect that comes from being a modern, movie-media reader). Given that, I persevered and got quite a lot from this book. In terms of the social structure of the time, this is a great history book as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Riviting, sensual, mad!