Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly's Reviews > Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
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Jan 18, 2011

really liked it

The nerve of this Leo Berzani who, in his introduction to my edition of this book, describes Madame Bovary as "a stupid, vulgar and cruel woman". Absolutely not! She was just born ahead of her time.

She was sensuous, beautiful and loved the fine things in life: nice clothes, jewelry, good food, lots of sex and parties. Had she been born today, she could easily been a movie star, or the mistress of a very rich man, or the wife of a powerful drug lord. People would have put her in a pedestal like a queen, a fixture in society columns, her beauty and wealth in constant display on television.

Instead, however, she lived in the province, married to a doctor who was not really a doctor, hobnobbing not with the rich and famous, but with cows and horses. On the outside, a respectable wife of the town physician. On the inside, Cyndi Lauper singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" in a place and time completely devoid of fun. What can be more cruel than to put a lively creature so full of life, excitement and vivacity in a place and at a time irremediably hostile to it?

Madame Bovary was a saint, like Santa Evita (Peron). That she died by her own hands does not matter. That she was unfaithful to her husband was excusable as it was inevitable: she could not have done otherwise without being true to herself. And even this, not without any struggle. Before she has had her affairs--

"she made determined efforts to experience love. In the garden, by moonlight, she would recite to (her husband) all the passionate verses she knew by heart and sing him mournful adagios accompanied by sighs; but afterward she found herself as calm as before and (her husband) did not seem to be any more amorous or stirred up."

Madame Bovary is perhaps the most misunderstood literary character in history. This book, in fact, is the only one I've seen dedicated to the author's lawyer--the latter was the one who successfully defended Flaubert when he was sued because of "obscenity" and this novel's "immorality"!
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Reading Progress

January 18, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 19, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Regine Madame Bovary--loved this book. Although I can agree with you that Emma was definitely ahead of her time, I think you're giving her too much credit.

Mohammed "she lived in the province, married to a doctor who was not really a doctor "

Harsh against poor Charles Bovary he did study hard over his normal ability to become a doctor.

When i read this for lit class i knew the modern reader male or female would see Emma as a woman ahead of her time. Not happy with your marriege is hardly unusual and an easy problem to fix today.

Petra X That was a very interesting review. Another perspective on the mesmerising Madame Bovary. I didn't see her the same way at all.

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly Thanks Petra.

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Winnipeg Mosquito Loved this review!

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