- Series: Bantam Classics
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Bantam Classics; 1 edition (July 1, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553213415
- ISBN-13: 978-0553213416
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 851 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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Then again perhaps the point of the novel is to show us how banal life is when one cannot find anything meaningful beyond oneself. Instead of being tragic, I found the both of their deaths as pointless as their lives. The fact that neither is any worse than the miserable people that surround them is the best thing left to say..
In that sense, the novel serves a useful purpose in that it reveals that a full life involves more than satisfying one's own appetites as Emma attempts to do and the folly of basing one's happiness on an unworthy object of adoration as he does. I recommend reading it as forerunner of so much of today's entertainment built on unsympathetic characters facing the consequences of their vapid choices. The art of the novel lies in Flaubert's ability to convey that message without appearing to preach.
See, Flaubert is perhaps the first solid example of masterful handling of what writers and English professors refer to as Free Indirect Speech. You'll notice that the story opens with an unnamed first person narrator, then, without warning, the story shifts to third person omniscient, having already utterly and completely drawn you into the story. It's brilliant, and even today, Flaubert is the one you'll be encouraged to study if you wish to master writing from this point of view.
I highly recommend this story, for philosophers, for writers, and for those just looking for an interesting tale exploring some important truths.
The author did a remarkable job of making Madame Bovary's frustration almost palpable. The frantic life of lies and desperation that she lived in pursuit of her illusive dream manifested itself in a madness that would not even allow her to love her own daughter.
Flaubert does an engaging job of instilling in the reader a hope that Madame Bovary would not come to a tragic end. But, as the reader expected from the beginning, it was not to be.