Madame Bovary Quotes

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Madame Bovary Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
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Madame Bovary Quotes Showing 1-30 of 422
“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.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“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.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“She wanted to die, but she also wanted to live in Paris.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Never touch your idols: the gilding will stick to your fingers."

(Il ne faut pas toucher aux idoles: la dorure en reste aux mains.)
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright...Haven't you ever happened to come across in a book some vague notion that you've had, some obscure idea that returns from afar and that seems to express completely your most subtle feelings?”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Love, she thought, must come suddenly, with great outbursts and lightnings,--a hurricane of the skies, which falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a leaf, and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“An infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“You forget everything. The hours slip by. You travel in your chair through centuries you seem seem to see before you, your thoughts are caught up in the story, dallying with the details or following the course of the plot, you enter into characters, so that it seems as if it were your own heart beating beneath their costumes.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“One's duty is to feel what is great, cherish the beautiful, and to not accept the conventions of society with the ignominy that it imposes upon us.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Everything, even herself, was now unbearable to her. She wished that, taking wing like a bird, she could fly somewhere, far away to regions of purity, and there grow young again.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Deep down, all the while, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she kept casting desperate glances over the solitary waster of her life, seeking some white sail in the distant mists of the horizon. She had no idea by what wind it would reach her, toward what shore it would bear her, or what kind of craft it would be – tiny boat or towering vessel, laden with heartbreaks or filled to the gunwhales with rapture. But every morning when she awoke she hoped that today would be the day; she listened for every sound, gave sudden starts, was surprised when nothing happened; and then, sadder with each succeeding sunset, she longed for tomorrow.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“She was not happy--she never had been. Whence came this insufficiency in life--this instantaneous turning to decay of everything on which she leaned? But if there were somewhere a being strong and beautiful, a valiant nature, full at once of exaltation and refinement, a poet's heart in an angel's form, a lyre with sounding chords ringing out elegiac epithalamia to heaven, why, perchance, should she not find him? Ah! How impossible! Besides, nothing was worth the trouble of seeking it; everything was a lie. Every smile hid a yawn of boredom, every joy a curse, all pleasure satiety, and the sweetest kisses left upon your lips only the unattainable desire for a greater delight.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“She would have liked not to be alive, or to be always asleep.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“But, in her life, nothing was going to happen. Such was the will of God! The future was a dark corridor, and at the far end the door was bolted.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Haven't you ever happened to come across in a book some vague notion that you've had, some obscure idea that returns from afar and that seems to express completely your most subtle feelings?”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
tags: book
“I'm absolutely removed from the world at such times...The hours go by without my knowing it. Sitting there I'm wandering in countries I can see every detail of - I'm playing a role in the story I'm reading. I actually feel I'm the characters - I live and breath with them.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“The denigration of those we love always detaches us from them in some degree. Never touch your idols: the gilding will stick to your fingers.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“She was the amoureuse of all the novels, the heroine of all the plays, the vague “she” of all the poetry books.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Of all the icy blasts that blow on love, a request for money is the most chilling.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“He had carefully avoided her out of the natural cowardice that characterizes the stronger sex.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“She loved the sea for its storms alone, cared for vegetation only when it grew here and there among ruins. She had to extract a kind of personal advantage from things and she rejected as useless everything that promised no immediate gratification — for her temperament was more sentimental than artistic, and what she was looking for was emotions, not scenery.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“And she felt as though she had been there, on that bench, for an eternity. For an infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“La parole humaine est comme un chaudron fêlé où nous battons des mélodies à faire danser les ours, quand on voudrait attendrir les étoiles.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“[T]he truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and 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.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“After the pain of this disappointment her heart once more stood empty, and the succession of identical days began again.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Doesn't it seem to you," asked Madame Bovary, "that the mind moves more freely in the presence of that boundless expanse, that the sight of it elevates the soul and gives rise to thoughts of the infinite and the ideal?”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
tags: ocean, sea
“He was bored now when Emma suddenly began to sob on his breast; and his heart, like the people who can only stand a certain amount of music, became drowsy through indifference to the vibrations of a love whose subtleties he could no longer distinguish.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“What baffled him was that there should be all this fuss about something so simple as love.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“Before her marriage she had thought that she had love within her grasp; but since the happiness which she had expected this love to bring her hadn’t come, she supposed she must have been mistaken. And Emma tried to imagine just what was meant, in life, by the words “bliss,” “passion,” and “rapture” - words that had seemed so beautiful to her in books.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“I believe in the Supreme Being, in a Creator, whatever he may be. I care little who has placed us here below to fulfil our duties as citizens and fathers of families; but I don't need to go to church to kiss silver plates, and fatten, out of my pocket, a lot of good-for-nothings who live better than we do. For one can know him as well in a wood, in a field, or even contemplating the eternal vault like the ancients. My God! mine is the God of Socrates, of Franklin, of Voltaire, and of Beranger! I am for the profession of faith of the 'Savoyard Vicar,' and the immortal principles of '89! And I can't admit of an old boy of a God who takes walks in his garden with a cane in his hand, who lodges his friends in the belly of whales, dies uttering a cry, and rises again at the end of three days; things absurd in themselves, and completely opposed, moreover, to all physical laws, which proves to us, by the way, that priests have always wallowed in turpid ignorance, in which they would fain engulf the people with them.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

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