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Madame Bovary (Bantam Classics) Paperback – June 1, 1982
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"Madame Bovary is like the railroad stations erected in its epoch: graceful, even floral, but cast of iron." -- John Updike
From the Publisher
This exquisite novel tells the story of one of the most compelling heroines in modern literature--Emma Bovary. Unhappily married to a devoted, clumsy provincial doctor, Emma revolts against the ordinariness of her life by pursuing voluptuous dreams of ecstasy and love. But her sensuous and sentimental desires lead her only to suffering corruption and downfall. A brilliant psychological portrait, Madame Bovary searingly depicts the human mind in search of transcendence. Who is Madame Bovary? Flaubert's answer to this question was superb: "Madame Bovary, c'est moi." Acclaimed as a masterpiece upon its publication in 1857, the work catapulted Flaubert to the ranks of the world's greatest novelists. This volume, with its fine translation by Lowell Bair, a perceptive introduction by Leo Bersani, and a complete supplement of essays and critical comments, is the indispensable Madame Bovary.
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I could not give a better rating to this edition however due to what appeared to be either a rather poor translation, or VERY poor proof reading. I found this extremely annoying. Nonetheless, it would be a shame if this fact deterred someone from reading Madame Bovary, so I would recommend perhaps trying a different edition.
Flaubert is one of those rare writers who even in translation can establish characters and their motivations with both depth and an economical use of language. The main characters in this novel are so fully realized that early on the reader feels an understanding of their inner lives and personalities that draws you into the plot and engages you to the final pages. Other reviewers have commented on the weakness of this particular translation. As it is the only one I've read I have no basis for comparison but I found the Penguin edition a joy to read and didn't once feel inhibited in my enjoyment of the book by the translation. In fact I was almost unaware of it and completely engrossed in the story from the start.