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Madame Bovary
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Preliminary Reading > Madame Bovary - Week Three - 10/15-21 - Part II, Ch. 9-15

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim This discussion covers Part II, Ch. 9-15, p. 135-202


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Right. I'm back in sync, just finished Part II.


Ginny | 8 comments I finished up the book. I broke my sternum on Saturday so have been staying home recuperating from that. Not sure how I feel about her. Is my dislike for her because I don't have sympathy for her, or because I'm in pain? lol.


Ginny | 8 comments I'm sure that you are correct about Flaubert and his feelings of whether we like Emma or not. I thought the idea of reading and enjoying a book had something to do with enjoying and relating to the characters in the writing. I enjoyed Flaubert's writing, however, I did not enjoy any of the characters. It was difficult to relate to any of them (except to wish that Emma might change her ways). I'm glad that I have read it, however, I don't think it will be a book that I will read again.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Indifference, I think, is the only fatal response to a (lead) character; and it would be hard to be indifferent to Emma! Especially when she presents such a kaleidoscope of selves as the narrative progresses.

Flaubert seems very sardonic in this novel, does he not? Not that I've read anything else by him. It's a very different take on realism to Tolstoy's in, say, Anna Karenina; while (of course) very sensitive, he's much less of a humane/warm presence in the narrative. A trait I tend to value maybe more than it warrants, objectively, as I find it naturally absent in my own writing (to its detriment)...


message 6: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim Joshua wrote: "Flaubert seems very sardonic in this novel, does he not? Not that I've read anything else by him. It's a very different take on realism to Tolstoy's in, say, Anna Karenina; while (of course) very sensitive, he's much less of a humane/warm presence in the narrative..."

He certainly has little nice to say about the petites bourgeoisie*, but then, the whole novel is a critique of their values. Also, things seem to be somewhat superficial, or maybe shallow. There isn't a strong digging down into the characters, but just economic descriptions of their outward appearance coupled with their dialogue and brief mention of body language to portray what Flaubert wants to criticize. So far, I don't feel like I "know" these characters very well since I'm only being told what I could have observed first-hand if I were present in the room. Maybe I'm used to more modern novels where the character's interior monologues come into play to help the reader know them better. Or something like that...



(*pretty sure I'm spelling this wrong)


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

He does make use of free indirect style, though, doesn't he? I don't have the text to hand to check at this precise moment, but I don't recall the narrative being strictly externalised...


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

On a first pass I don't see that Flaubert does not want us to like Emma. In fact, if anything I would think he does not want us to like Charles, Rodolph and Homais.

I don't love Emma, but I do love her passion and I can sympathize with her plight. Is this not the story of thousands of marriages? Everytime she makes efforts towards Charles he seems that he is on a different planet. Even with her strong feelings of negativity she never lets her feeling for Leon (at least prior to part III which I have not read yet) progress to physical and had Rodolph not been rather persistent AND Charles pretty much handing her over?! I can imagine coming home and some guy who I don't know all that well is alone with my wife and they both stand up rather awkwardly and I say, hey, you know what a good idea would be? If the two of you did something alone together! And over months of Emma sneaking out like a teenager morning and night he never suspects a thing! He then proceeds to do the same thing at the end of part II with Leon. Maybe in part III we find that this is all part of Charles master plan? Except that with Flabuert's roaming third person POV we know many of Charles thoughts so that is not even possible.

I suppose that is a rather roaming thought process but although I believe a person is responsible for their own actions, Charles is highly complicit in Emma's affairs of the heart and that is why I couldn't begin to not like her character for the infidelities. How she seems indifferent to her daughter on the other hand...


Marieke | 181 comments my reading was rather influenced by a friend who pointed out that the peculiar first chapter set the stage for Charles' buffoonery...maybe buffoon is a bit harsh, but he is definitely kind of out of it and (innocently?) ignorant. i felt rather frustrated with him. but i also felt frustrated with Emma because Charles did on a number of occasions try to love. i'm thinking of the scene at the ball when they are getting ready and he makes a romantic advance but she pushes him away. i felt sad for Charles during that scene. :(


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with Marieke's comment. Charles is very naïve, in the way he looks at the world very straightforwardly and unimaginatively; and this naïveté is both what prevents him from seeing what's going on under his nose and the catalyst for it happening in the first place - his lack of imagination is closely bound up with his lack of romance.

Of course there are also Emma's aspirations 'beyond her station' which no personality Charles might have could assuage, given the limitations of their bourgeois life together. But who he is as a person certainly doesn't help!


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