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Madame Bovary

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  120,947 ratings  ·  5,051 reviews
Emma Bovary is a bored housewife who indulges her romantic fantasies with a series of adulterous affairs. Charged with obscenity when first published, the novel became a literary scandal and a bestseller.

THIS ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:

• A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information
• A chronology of the author'...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1856)
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Kelly
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
DeLaina
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...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...more
Petra Xtra Crunchy
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...more
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
Martine
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...more
Garima
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...more
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...more
Shannon
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
Emma
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...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...more
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
Manny
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...more
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...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...more
Katherine
Just finished this morning. Wow. Wow. WOW. Straight into the all-time top 10.

Emma Bovary, wife of a kind and stable country doctor, longs for the depth of feeling and the hyper-reality she experiences in reading romantic novels or attending the opera, but her reality always falls woefully short. In search of a life where her ideals play out for her, she throws herself into high living and adulterous affairs.

This surprisingly bright and lively novel renders the failure of the ideal in relation to...more
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...more
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...more
Ian Paganus de Fish
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...more
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
RandomAnthony
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...more
Shovelmonkey1
Jan 03, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all the single ladies
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Shelves: le-french
To be honest, I'm perhaps more interested in reviewing Gustave Flaubert than Madam Bovary but I will pretend that my attention span is capable of dealing with two issues at the same time and perhaps get round to doing both.

Flaubert is a gentleman of impressive facial hair! Judicious googling and a tiny bit of research has turned up a lot of photographs of Gustave but the best image is a portrait of Flaubert painted by Eugene Giraud who has contrived to depict him as a walrus in a dinner jacket....more
Taka
A perfect novel?

That's what the critics say. Some reviewers are more honest. They say it's admirably boring. The critics snub at them and say they don't understand the true literary value of the novel.

I for one found the first 140 pages supremely boring, with page after page of static descriptions and summaries of what happened. As a modern reader, I would've liked more scenes, but more than that, I wanted more drama. The novel may accurately and vividly depict what the provincial life was like...more
Trevor
I’ve just read Bruce Nagle’s review of this book – in which he talks of the benefits of returning to a classic work of fiction after some time so that a ‘different self’ can ‘acquire new insights’ into a much loved work. If I didn’t have so much else to read this beautiful comment would be enough to make me take up this book again. I remember so loving this book when I first read it that it would be no hardship to read it again.

It is odd the things that get associated with books in one’s life –...more
Carmo Santos
"Só as obras bem escritas hão-de passar à posteridade"
Conde de Buffon


Consta que Gustave Flaubert tenha afirmado - já no final da sua vida - qualquer coisa como: "eu vou morrer mas a puta da Bovary vai sobreviver".
E sobreviveu! Também o levou à barra do tribunal; a sociedade puritana da época não estava preparada para admitir a existência do adultério ou ver questionada a doutrina da igreja, nem a burguesia gostou de ter o dedo apontado na sua direção. Mas o livro sobreviveu, eternizou o autor...more
Loederkoningin
Whether you enjoy or at least appreciate Madame Bovary, may depend a lot on how well you're able to identify yourself with the heroine. I've spoken to people who are pretty much content with their family and 9 to 5 job, their trips to the local supermarket and Sundays spent with their grandparents. And I envy them. And I don't. Those are the people who are most likely to throw away their copy, disgusted with stupid, shallow Emma, this woman who can't seem to appreciate all the happiness that is...more
David
Never touch your idols: the gilding will stick to your fingers.
There is something eternal about the plight of Emma Bovary. She is a foolish woman, she is insipid and shallow, she is material, and shrouds herself in her illusions about love just as she shrouds herself in pricey dresses and wraps. But, she is never quite unrealistic, her absurdities are, to a degree, universal, and so whether we read Madame Bovary as a comedy or a tragedy largely depends on the moment and our present sentiment. E...more
Sean
This classic of French literature is a simple story of a woman who marries an unambitious and complacent doctor and falls into a life that is loveless, lonely, and boring. Emma has constant fantasies of a better life. A life that is exciting, romantic, and meaningful. She dreams of other men that she meets. She dreams of living in the fast paced city of Paris. She dreams of leaving the dull life as a doctor’s wife behind forever. This woman then suppresses her guilt and disregards the immorality...more
Malbadeen
Yes, the writing occasionally caused me to pause in appreciation for it's efficacy and irony. And true, some of the irritations with character may have been more an issue of realities of that time period rather than ideologies of the author but still, it was a little nauseating to see, once again, woman portrayed as banal nit wits that are so frail the mere thought of romance causes their hearts to twitter and their hands to shake while men pursued academics, culture and conversation.

But mostly...more
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What do you think of Madame Bovary the character? 14 105 Sep 04, 2014 12:06AM  
La Stamberga dei ...: Diciottesimo GdL: Madame Bovary di Gustave Flaubert 74 78 Jun 27, 2014 05:11AM  
A Work In Progress: MAdaMe B 21 6 Jun 24, 2014 12:51PM  
Leram? Gostaram? 1 26 Jun 02, 2014 10:23AM  
Should I Read This????????????????? 25 244 Apr 18, 2014 04:08AM  
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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
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.” 1345 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.” 335 likes
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