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Madame Bovary
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Preliminary Reading > Madame Bovary - Week One - 10/1-7 - Part I

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message 1: by Jim (last edited Sep 21, 2012 02:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim This discussion covers Part One, pages 1 - 58. (Page numbers refer to the Lydia Davis Translation, Viking edition)

Ongoing Schedule:

Week 1: October 1-7 - Part One, p. 1-58
Week 2: October 8-14 - Part Two, Ch. 1-8, p. 61-135
Week 3: October 15-21 - Part Two, Ch. 9-15, p. 135-202
Week 4: October 22-28 - Part Three, p. 205-311


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim Proustitute wrote: "Thanks again for breaking down the Madame Bovary preliminary reading schedule, Jim.

I hope those taking part are itching (as it seems you are!) to begin."


De rien, mon ami!

I started reading this afternoon so I'll be ready for next week. BTW, Davis' introduction is good, but it has many spoilers.


Marieke | 181 comments thanks for the heads up on the spoilers...i'll read the intro after i finish the book. i read an older translation about fifteen years ago and i don't remember much except the basic premise and that i liked the book, so i'm going to approach it as if i have never read it. :)


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim Marieke wrote: "thanks for the heads up on the spoilers...i'll read the intro after i finish the book. i read an older translation about fifteen years ago and i don't remember much except the basic premise and tha..."

One important piece of info from the intro is that the end notes are not referenced within the text. She does indicate page numbers next to the notes, which is handy.


Marieke | 181 comments hm. interesting. i'm going to be reading the e-book for now (with plans to get the actual book later). i'm not sure how the e-book handles the endnotes, but i'll figure it out, somehow. (i have a strong tendency to be an idiot with electronics)


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

1st October has arrived (at least in my timezone) so I'm going to start reading this evening. Thanks for letting us know about the intro Jim - and again, for the schedule!


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim Alright, time to get this train a'rollin'


First, an observation. Flaubert writes in a somewhat misanthropic way, going right to the core of each character's flaws, warts and all. I read Sentimental Education in college, but it's too many years ago to remember. Does he tend to write this way in his other books?

Second, a minor complaint. While I didn't feel particularly attached to Charles' first wife, I was surprised by the out of left field deus ex machina that left poor Héloïse dead. Flaubert whacked her faster than Tony Soprano in a bad mood. I will grant, though, that he keeps the story moving forward.

Those observations aside, I'm enjoying the mastery of Flaubert's writing. He moves the reader quickly through the characters' natures, motivations, and their likely future actions.

In thinking about how Flaubert might influence Proust, at this point in the book, his acute attention to details and his way of revealing character through those details are elements I can see in Proust's work.


Andreea (andyyy) Jim wrote: "First, an observation. Flaubert writes in a somewhat misanthropic way, going right to the core of each character's flaws, warts and all. I read Sentimental Education in college, but it's too many years ago to remember. Does he tend to write this way in his other books?"

I'm not sure if misanthropic is the most accurate way to describe it? Flaubert was committed to criticizing / ridiculing the bourgeoisie - the novel's subtitle is mœurs de province, after all. He moved between romanticism and anti-romanticist realism throughout his books and I think the bleaker moments of MB are very much the latter. Also, I'm not sure how many people already know this, but Flaubert started writing MB when, after a reading of La Tentation de Saint Antoine (which is indeed awkward and quite bad), his friends told him he should write something more realistic - so realism, both in the sense of verisimilitude and as the literary movement, are interesting to follow in the novel - as well as in Proust.


message 9: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim Andreea wrote: "Jim wrote: "First, an observation. Flaubert writes in a somewhat misanthropic way, going right to the core of each character's flaws, warts and all. I read Sentimental Education in college, but it'..."

Yes, misanthropic isn't quite right. Maybe judgmental and pessimistic, as regards the characters' negative qualities, would be more accurate.

He is, at the beginning, more gentle with Emma.

I enjoyed the sentences describing the father-in-law of the Marquis who was rumored to have been one of Marie Antoinette's lovers, and how Emma was titillated to be in the presence of a man who "lived at court and slept in the beds of queens."


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Mint! Even though Amazon said my expected arrival date for Madame Bovary was October 19th, I have been tracking it and it appeared it would arrive sooner. It is at my post office right now, if not on the way to my mailbox!!!!!! Such a bummer I will have to put aside G.R.R. Martin for a little while (not really).


Marieke | 181 comments i almost finished the part for this week. Emma is even more obnoxious than i had remembered.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Finished this week's section last night. Beautiful prose, spare and lush at the same time. I tried to read over in the original this morning, found myself reaching for the dictionary more often than I expected!

Something that struck me - and I'm probably thinking about this because I've just read Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method - was the 'we' of the opening paragraphs, as if the narrator is among Charles's classmates. This is pure trickery, as the narrator is really heterodiagetic (i.e. is not a character in the story). But it feels very natural. Is this a one-off, or does Flaubert use this technique elsewhere?


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I just finished chapter 3 this morning and I was thinking the same exact thing. In the first chapter the narrator speaks much the same as the narrator(s) in The Virgin Suicides. I wouldn't say it bothers me, but it does seem like a bit of tom foolery.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Jim wrote: "Second, a minor complaint. While I didn't feel particularly attached to Charles' first wife, I was surprised by the out of left field deus ex machina that left poor Héloïse dead. Flaubert whacked her faster than Tony Soprano in a bad mood. I will grant, though, that he keeps the story moving forward."

This also struck me as a bit cheap and convenient. No warning at all that she was on the verge of her deathbed.


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 04, 2012 07:13PM) (new)

Personally, I found the sudden extinction of Héloïse quite funny in a bleak sort of way.


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