Madame Bovary

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Independently Published, Jan 2, 2017 - 457 pages
Madame Bovary (1856) is the French writer Gustave Flaubert's debut novel. The story focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.When the novel was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, public prosecutors attacked the novel for obscenity. The resulting trial in January 1857 made the story notorious. After Flaubert's acquittal on 7 February 1857, Madame Bovary became a bestseller in April 1857 when it was published as a single volume. The novel is now considered Flaubert's masterpiece, as well as a seminal work of literary realism and one of the most influential novels. The British critic James Wood writes: "Flaubert established, for good or ill, what most readers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible.Plot Summary : Madame Bovary takes place in provincial northern France, near the town of Rouen in Normandy. Charles Bovary is a shy, oddly dressed teenager arriving at a new school where his new classmates ridicule him. Charles struggles his way to a second-rate medical degree and becomes an officier de santé (fr) in the Public Health Service. He marries the woman his mother has chosen for him, the unpleasant but supposedly rich widow Heloise Dubuc. He sets out to build a practice in the village of Tostes (now Tôtes).One day, Charles visits a local farm to set the owner's broken leg and meets his patient's daughter, Emma Rouault. Emma is a beautiful, daintily dressed young woman who has received a "good education" in a convent. She has a powerful yearning for luxury and romance inspired by reading popular novels. Charles is immediately attracted to her, and visits his patient far more often than necessary, until Heloise's jealousy puts a stop to the visits.When Heloise unexpectedly dies, Charles waits a decent interval before courting Emma in earnest. Her father gives his consent, and Emma and Charles marry.The novel's focus shifts to Emma. Charles means well but is plodding and clumsy. After he and Emma attend an elegant ball given by the Marquis d'Andervilliers, Emma finds her married life dull and becomes listless. Charles decides his wife needs a change of scenery and moves his practice to the larger market town of Yonville (traditionally identified with the town of Ry). There, Emma gives birth to a daughter, Berthe, but motherhood proves a disappointment to Emma. She becomes infatuated with an intelligent young man she meets in Yonville, a young law student, Léon Dupuis, who shares her appreciation for literature and music and returns her esteem. Concerned with maintaining her self-image as a devoted wife and mother, Emma does not acknowledge her passion for Léon and conceals her contempt for Charles, drawing comfort from the thought of her virtue. Léon despairs of gaining Emma's affection and departs to study in Paris.Author : Gustave Flaubert (French: [ɡystav flobɛʁ]; 12 December 1821 - 8 May 1880) was an influential French novelist who was perhaps the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), for his Correspondence, and for his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics. The celebrated short story writer Guy de Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert.Extrait : The 'new fellow,' standing in the corner behind the door so that he could hardly be seen, was a country lad of about fifteen, and taller than any of us. His hair was cut square on his forehead like a village chorister's; he looked reliable, but very ill at ease. Although he was not broad-shouldered, his short school jacket of green cloth with black buttons must have

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User Review  - lethalmauve - LibraryThing

Flaubert’s Madame Bovary sits askew between fading religious conscience and exacerbating moral corruption. Initially deluded by the fairytale idea of marriage, together with the assumed social status ... Read full review

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User Review  - alexrichman - LibraryThing

Fair play, Flaubert - this holds up very well! Still thoughtful and funny after all these years, and that's ignoring how groundbreaking it was at the time. The novel (ho ho) approach has become so ... Read full review

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About the author (2017)

Born in the town of Rouen, in northern France, in 1821, Gustave Flaubert was sent to study law in Paris at the age of 18. After only three years, his career was interrupted and he retired to live with his widowed mother in their family home at Croisset, on the banks of the Seine River. Supported by a private income, he devoted himself to his writing. Flaubert traveled with writer Maxime du Camp from November 1849 to April 1851 to North Africa, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. When he returned he began Madame Bovary, which appeared first in the Revue in 1856 and in book form the next year. The realistic depiction of adultery was condemned as immoral and Flaubert was prosecuted, but escaped conviction. Other major works include Salammbo (1862), Sentimental Education (1869), and The Temptation of Saint Antony (1874). His long novel Bouvard et Pecuchet was unfinished at his death in 1880. After his death, Flaubert's fame and reputation grew steadily, strengthened by the publication of his unfinished novel in 1881 and the many volumes of his correspondence.

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