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Madame Bovary

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  143,241 ratings  ·  5,899 reviews
'Oh, why, dear God, did I marry him?'

Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment,
Paperback, 335 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Penguin Classics (first published 1856)
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Nuno Ribeiro Your question seems to have the stress on "deserve", on merit or morals. The book is a critic on society, not on the type of woman Emma is. Emma and…moreYour question seems to have the stress on "deserve", on merit or morals. The book is a critic on society, not on the type of woman Emma is. Emma and her husband are a product of that society. A better life would be possible, that is the underlying premise of the book, if society changed. The sufering and misery that Emma ends up with is inevitable. That seems to be the point of the book. A woman of that society has no say in her future. She has to accept an arranged marriage. And she can try to have some affairs, and have her reputation ruined. But she cannot have it all, love, pleasure, power, happiness, money, control. That is impossible. That belongs to men. It's beyond any notion of merit, or any conscious behaviour a woman might achive or aspire to. "The Lady of the Camellias", by Alexandre Dumas, fils is contemporary of this novel (it was published 9 years earlier) and shows the only other option a woman had, if she wanted romance and love: to become a courtier and entertain men. A woman could not, freely, choose who to love, if she fell in love. She would either have an affair (and be considered a whore) or she would have to officially chose to be a whore. And if you think this is dangerously similar to what we have today, it shows how little society has changed. (less)

Community Reviews

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Oh, Emma. Emma, Emma, Emma. Darling, why must you make it so easy ? No, dear, (for once) I don’t mean for the men. I mean for everyone else in the world who goes into this book just looking for an excuse to make fun of you. I would say that most people don’t know that much about France, but they do know a few things: that they like their baguettes, their socialism, Sartre, dirrrty dirrty sexy lurrrve and they despise this thing called the bourgeoisie. This book doesn’t really do a thing to dispr ...more
This is one of the books that has had a profound effect on my life. The moral? Be happy with what you have and where you are!!! Mme. Bovary fritters away her entire life with thoughts of, "If only X would happen, THEN I could be truly happy" and yet she never is. She gets everything she thinks she wants only to find out she's still not content.

I read this while I was engaged and at the time, thought, "Well, I'll be happier when I'm married, but once I am, then life will be fabulous". After a few
Steve Sckenda
She moves us in mysterious ways that the bloodless cannot fathom. A woman like Emma Bovary is best appreciated by ardent-hearted readers, who understand how Emma summoned heroines from her books and how “the lyric host of these unchaste women began their chorus in her memory, sister-voices, enticing her.” Nourished by an unbalanced diet of romantic books, she merges her own imagination into the story and sees herself as one of literature’s great lovers. Emma believed that “love had to fall sudd ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Oy, the tedium, the drudgery of trying to read this book! I tried to get into this story. Really, I did. It's a classic, right? And everyone else likes it. I kept making myself continue, hoping I could get into the story and figure out what's supposed to be so good about it.
I won't waste any more of my precious reading time on this. It's about a self-absorbed young wife who longs for anyone else's life except her own. When she's in the city, she dreams of the farm. When she's in the country, she
Petra X
Three and a half stars, uprated to 5 stars because I can't get it out of my head. 9 April 2012.

Not sure what to make of it. The self-obsessed Emma Bovary was obviously (to me) a side of Flaubert himself. She feels that there is so much more but her limited life fences her in and instead of drawing into herself, seeing what she has to offer, how to make the best of herself, she wants happiness to come to her just as it does in the romance novels she, and Flaubert, read.

I understood that spiritual
Kat Kennedy
Henry James once said, "Madame Bovary has a perfection that not only stamps it, but that makes it stand almost alone; it holds itself with such a supreme unapproachable assurance as both excites and defies judgment."

That's right. Defies judgment.

Henry James
I don't know... he looks kind of judgy to me...

Unfortunately, I had to read a translation as my French is nowhere near good enough to read the original. Though I am assured that the prose in the original French are amazing and inspiring.

I can certainly a
Mar 27, 2008 Martine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: incurable romantics and those who love nineteenth-century literature in general
Like every European teenager who takes French at secondary school, I was supposed to read Madame Bovary when I was seventeen or so. I chose not to, and boy, am I glad I did. I couldn't possibly have done justice to the richness of Flaubert's writing as a seventeen-year-old. Moreover, I probably would have hated the characters so much that I never would have given the book another chance. Which would have been a shame, as it's really quite deserving of the tremendous reputation it has.

Madame Bova
Her too-lofty dreams, her too-narrow house.

We meet and greet different sorts of people; we greet and read different sorts of books. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jane Eyre. With her modest dreams and dignified living, it was easy to accept and love her. She was far from perfect but there was hardly a thing I would have changed about her. A fictional character of literature exemplifying the virtuous side of real life but she was not alone. There were some other characters surround
Perhaps she would have liked to confide in someone about all these things. But how does one express an uneasiness so intangible, one that changes shape like a cloud, that changes direction like the wind? She lacked the words, the occasion, the courage.

Some blame it on novels packed with sentimentalist kitsch; some point out her too-lofty dreams, her too-narrow house, so that the higher she raised the bar of happiness the harder it got to climb; some direct their anger at her reckless financial
When I first met my husband at a Christmas dinner party hosted by my best friend, he made a joke that I was Emma Bovary. This unflattering comparison was based on my name, French heritage and interest in fashion. Charming. I made a joke that he was a tosser, we fell madly in love and married not long after. No really, we did.

I hadn't read Flaubert's Madame Bovary at that point, but I had heard Emma Bovary was a character without any saving positives. I had also heard that manyyoung women in Norm
Why are all the "great classics" lead by famed female heroines all too often about personal freedom thru means of sexual compromise leading to abject misery and ultimate demise? I realize it's an accurate depiction of culture and times, however why are Bovary and Moll Flanders the memorable matriarchs of classic literature? See my commentary on the Awakening for similar frustrations. Why aren't there more works about strong women making a difference in their own lives if not those of their famil ...more
Renato Magalhães Rocha
When I start reading a book named after one of its characters, I simply can't help the anxiety to meet them. In this case, I was impatient to finally get acquainted with Madame Bovary.

Instead of that, on the opening chapter, we get to see Charles Bovary, the peaceful and shy little boy going to school for the first time. We accompany him while he grows up, study to become a 'doctor' and marry his first wife. After a series of events, he finds and marries his second wife - this time the one - and
Henry Avila
Emma is a rather silly, very passionate ( too much so), bored, uneducated to the reality of the real world, young woman, who believes in the romantic novels she reads, moonlight walks, eerie, forbidding castles, dangerous flights into unknown, and strange lands, always trying to escape their frightening captors... brave, handsome men, that are faithful to their beautiful, virtuous women, fighting the evil, monstrous, corrupt, but attractive libertines , and the hero rescuing them in the nick of ...more
Huda Yahya

مدام بوفاري
هذه المرأة التي لا تدري أتحتقرها أم تبكي عليها
أتشفق على حالها أم تلعنها

فيا لكل هذا البؤس
ويا لكل هذا السخط

وربما يكون السخط هو مفتاح الرواية الرئيسي
فهو الشعور الذي يمزق إيما لحما ودما وتأوهات
لقد انبثقت تعاستها جزعا ووجعا وتهورا وتمردا
ولكن الأنكى من هذا كله


بلغت الأنانية بإيما مبلغا جعلها تحطم كل القوانين
لا القوانين التي ابتدعها البشر والتي لا أبالي بها
بل قوانين الإنسانية التي كان عليها تقديمها على هذا الشبق الذي ملأ كيانها
فجعلها تنساق ملهوفة أمام كل رغبة م
Rakhi Dalal
This is my third attempt at writing the review for the work. I tried and tried, but found myself at loss with words each time I sat and thought about the character of Emma. Her character, at the outset, is contemptible. A woman, who engages in an ignoble behavior with other man, someone who is not in control of her emotions, someone who doesn’t live in her present, ignores her child and husband for an illicit relationship, lives for her own gratification and is self-indulgent to the point of bei ...more
هي الرواية الخالدة , التي وضعت بداية جديدة لفن الرواية بصفة خاصة وللأدب بصفة عامة , فلوبير لم يكتب مجرد نَص روائي مميز , بل كتب مفترق طرق للأدب , فيقال الرواية قبل (مدام بوڨاري) والرواية بعدها.

لطالما كنت من المنبهرين بالأعمال التي تناقش الضعف الإنساني , فهي تُقدم لك الإنسان بسليقته وما جُبل عليه , تقدم لك واقع الحباة وما تفرضه علينا المشاعر الطارئة وكيف أننا نُخدع وندعي مثالية زائفة في حين أن التجربة تكن لها كلمتها العليا .

الرواية هي (آنا كارنينا) الفرنسية وشبيهتها إلى حد بعيد , هي الرواية التي
گوستاو فلوبر نزديك چهار سال براي نوشتن اين داستان وقت صرف كرد.وي سبكي كاملا جديد پديد آورد و اينكه راوي داستان فقط ناظري باشد دقيق براي نمايش زندگي و نظر شخصي اش را وارد داستان نكند

يك زندگي واقعي،كه خبري از انسان هاي كاملا خوب يا بد نيست،و انسان ها در كنار خوبي،بدي هم دارند و همه شان مردمي معمولي هستند كه دچار روزمرگي شده اند، به غير از اِما و پدرِ شارل كه براي قلب خود ارزش قائلند ولي راه اشتباهي را انتخاب مي كنند

جامعه و اخلاقیات در اروپای آن زمان هنوز نمی توانست چنین انسان هایی را درک کنند

Moira posted a terrific review of Rabbit Redux the other day, and it made me realise something I should have noticed years ago. Rabbit Angstrom is Emma Bovary's literary grandson! As Moira says, Updike was deeply influenced by Nabokov, a fact that had somehow passed me by. Nabokov, in his turn, was a disciple of Flaubert; he famously said that he'd read all Flaubert, in the original French, by the time he was 14. So the family tree is clear enough.

It's one of those cases, though, where things ha
Jason Pettus
The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classics" for the first time, then determine whether or not they deserve the label. Madame Bovary is book #26 of the series.

The story in a nutshell:
Considered by nearly everyone to be one of the best novels ever written, French cynic Gustave Flaubert's 1857 Madame Bovary (originally published serially in 1856) is one of the first fiction projects in history to be as much a deep "character study" as a vehicle for simply propelling an exciting pl
Riku Sayuj

Madame Bovary & The Science of Adultery

Some universal features stand out when we talk of the human mating system.

1. First, women most commonly seek monogamous marriage—even in societies that allow polygamy. Rare exceptions notwithstanding, they want to choose carefully and then, as long as he remains worthy, monopolize a man for life, gain his assistance in rearing the children, and perhaps even die with him.

2. Second, women do not seek sexual variety per se. There are exceptions, of cours
Uff! Gustave Flaubert! Yes, he writes with style. Yes, style is the word that ascertains his elegiac description of details which preliminarily is deemed minute and frivolous but gradually assumes a funereal air around the characters which lividly boils out in an explosion of melancholy and is then petered out with consummate grace.

I misconstrued the enormity of this book assuming the plot to be similar to that of Anna Karenina (Women indulging in extra-marital affairs in their ardent pursuit of
Emily May
In this case, I think it was a bad idea to know stuff about Madame Bovary and Gustave Flaubert before starting the book. My high school English teacher loved to talk about books - and I know how she feels - but the result was quite a few spoilers for a lot of European classics. I think that knowing the author's intentions can be a bad thing and I'm certain that I was unable to keep it from influencing the way I viewed Emma Bovary and her behaviour. If you're curious about these intentions of Fla ...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 25, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Sinful treat. It is a story of an adulteress told beautifully by Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880). Reading this is like stepping on the edge of a cliff overlooking an breathtaking and enchanting view. There is a danger of you falling off but you cannot resist the view so you keep on going until you are stepping on the very edge.

Similar to Nabokov's Lolita or Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, this is a story about a character that is flawed. However, Flaubert makes one's reading really unforgettable because o
Ian Agadada-Davida
In Which a Dreamy Scheming Seamstress Chickababe Gets Entangled With Various Members of the Professions, the Merchant Class, Money Lenders, the Landed Gentry and the Aristocracy in a Quest for a Life She Does Not Have

The setting of “Madame Bovary” is one of Realism. Real life goes on around Emma. People work. They provide services. They buy and sell commodities. They borrow and lend money. They repay debts or collect unpaid debts. They get married. They have children and educate them. Their chil
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
BkC153) Flaubert, Gustave, [MADAME BOVARY] (tr. Lydia Davis): Classic novel, deathless. Sorta like a literary zombie.

Rating: 3* of five

The Book Description: As if one is really necessary. Well, here it is:
A literary event: one of the world's most celebrated novels, in a magnificent new translation.

Seven years ago, Lydia Davis brought us an award-winning, rapturously reviewed new translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way that was hailed as "clear and true to the music of the original" (Los Ange
Barry Pierce
Emma Bovary is one of my new favourite women in fiction. God she's such a BAMF. She's literally Beyoncé of the 19th century. This is how heroines are meant to be written! (Hear that Jane Austen you god awful woman?!) This is the story of a woman who gets married to the most boring man ever and decides, "fuck this, this guy's a wet blanket, I'm gonna have some adulterous affairs, yay!". It's really good, read it.
OK, just to prove I don't love all books, don't write breathless reviews of everything.... time to say something nasty.

I hate Madame Bovary.

I just can't see what all the fuss is about. Maybe it's beautiful in French - I read it in English.

Seems there are 2 kinds of readers: ones that love MB and ones that don't. The latter are in a very small minority. It's one of my literary due diligence questions.

I just didn't get it. Emma Bovary is an idiot. The plot is repetitive and silly.

If you want adult
I like to start a book knowing almost nothing about it. With Madame Bovary the only thing I knew was that it’s a French classic and often cited one of the all-time great novels. I knew absolutely nothing about the plot going in, though I expected it to be centered on the eponymous Madame Bovary, whoever she is. I imagined she is probably a French equivalent of Jane Eyre or Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I could not have been more wrong.

The protagonist Emma Bovary turns out to be a kind of anti-heroi
Madame Bovary, until I noticed the novel on the library shelf on a restless Friday afternoon, lived in a murky part of my brain that convoluted Balzac, Henry James, Les Miserables, and Merchant/Ivory films into a “Flaubert is like that” misconception. Also, I thought the book was at least seven hundred pages long. And I spelled “Madame” as “Madam” in all previous correspondence about the novel. My perceptions couldn't have been more off. Madame Bovary is excellent, falling short of a five star r ...more
Lynne King
I was reminded of this book today (by Jonathan) in relation to Robert Bolt's screenplay "Ryan's Daughter", directed by David Lean, which was "loosely based on Madame Bovary".

There's not much point in writing a review as so many excellent ones have already been written but I read this at university and our lecturer was a hoot. A lot of the wording I must confess I didn't understand at the time and looking at my 539 page paperback, there are comments all over the place.

I really should reread this
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Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He was born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, in the Haute-Normandie Region of France.

Flaubert's curious modes of composition favored and were emphasized by these peculiarities. He worked in sullen solitude, sometimes occupying a week in the completion of one page, never satisfied with what he had composed,
More about Gustave Flaubert...

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“Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” 1447 likes
“At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.” 441 likes
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