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Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town (Oxford World's Classics) Hardcover – June 10, 1999

3.6 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Miniature ed edition (June 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192100254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192100252
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.6 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on August 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Making a statement like Madame Bovary is the "greatest" novel ever written would be superfluous. It could be argued that it is the most perfectly written novel in the history of letters and that in creating it, Flaubert mastered the genre. What can't be argued is that it is one of the most influential novels ever written. It changed the face of literature as no other novel has, and has been appreciated and acknowledged by virtually every important novelist who was either Flaubert's contemporary or who came after him.
It's interesting to see the range in opinion that still surrounds this novel. Some of the Readers here at Amazon are morally affronted by the novel's central character, viewing her as something sinister and "unlikeable," and panning the novel for this reason. Such a reaction recalls the negative reviews Bovary engendered soon after its initial publication. It was attacked by many of the authorities of French literature at the time for being ugly and perverse, and for the impression that the novel presented no properly moral frame. These readers didn't "like" Emma much either, and they took their dislike out on her creator.
But this is one of the factors making Madame Bovary "modern". One of the hallmarks of modern novels is that they often portray unsympathetic characters, and Emma certainly falls into this category. How can we as readers "like" a woman who elbows her toddler daughter away from her so forcefully that the child "fell against the chest of drawers, and cut her cheek on the brass curtain-holder." After this pernicious behavior, Emma has a few brief moments of self-castigation and maybe even remorse, but very soon is struck by "what an ugly child" Berthe is.
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Format: Hardcover
Having originally read MADAME BOVARY in French, I am bound to find English versions disappointing, though, over the years, I have twice read acceptable translations. From Amazon, I bought the General Books paperback, and I cannot comprehend how Marx Aveling could allow it to appear for sale, especially after her adoring Flaubert prologue. The publisher scanned her copy without proofing it, and there are so many typos it's virtually unreadable.
The language is as forced and artificial as Flaubert's is natural and true. He created such marvelous characters that they manage to struggle through this mess and touch the reader. But I implore people not to read this genius author in this disgrace of a book. - Ann Seymour
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Skip this. Footnotes in the middle of pages with no source reference in the page. Use of obscure terms (form for bench), choppy uneven language. I compared this to another paper edition I own. The translation is poor at best. Sometimes you do get exactly what you pay for.
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Madame Bovary is perhaps the finest French novel of the 19th century, and that is really saying something; consider that this was the century that produced Balzac, Zola, Maupassant, Hugo, Dumas, and Stendhal. Madame Bovary is one of the greatest anti-heroes in all of Western literature, as she leads the reader through a tragedy that explores the extremes of ambivalence. Masterful and compelling. An absolute must-read.

HOWEVER, this particular edition (published by General Books LLC) is absolutely atrocious. I have never seen a book so rife with typographical errors -- it's like reading a Kindle transcription gone horribly wrong. Several times, Charles is referred to as "Charlea", and many of the chapters are divided improperly and begin nonsensically. Spend a little more $$$ and get the Penguin edition, or one that is translated by Lydia Davis.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a college English major I often had to read several books at a time with very little time to truly enjoy any of them. I promised myself that some day I would go back and re-read them just for fun.

For that reason I am really enjoying my Kindle and free Kindle editions of classic books. I love reading these classics on the Kindle because it allows me to quickly look up archaic words.

And re-reading these great works makes it clear why they are classics and why people are still reading them.

Emma Bovary is STILL a relevant character. Change the horses and carriages to cars and the unscrupulous milliner to a credit card company and this book might have been written about a 21st Century woman. She craves love and longs for passion in her life while completely overlooking the husband who adores her and loves her with almost frightening intensity.

Ignore the original publication date. It's still fresh and still great literature.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The aforementioned footnotes didn't bother me too much, but there are quite a few odd word choices and blatant transpositions in the text. Not enough to ruin the reading experience, but enough to make you go "huh?" at least once a chapter (i.e. a pony "gambling" in the pasture instead of "gamboling") especially if you are unused to older translations with archaic usages.

That being said, this was my first experience with the book and I felt like I got all of the author's intention from it - the word choices aren't lazy, just old-fashioned. And when all's said and done, isn't that the important thing?
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