Saturday, December 01, 2007

Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert

I am adding this to my annual list late – I read it last spring as part of my World Literature II class. I assign and read, this novel every time I teach this class, because I love it so much. To me, Bovary is one of the best, most important, and most interesting novels of the 19th century. I put it up there with all the big ones – Middlemarch by George Eliot, Jane Eyre and Villette by Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
Flaubert has captured all the great movements of the 19th century in telling this tale of romance, fantasy, love, hate, greed, rejection, and desperation. Naturalism, realism, and symbolism can be found woven throughout the story of Emma Bovary, trapped by the conventions and sex roles then imposed on women. Her flaw is an inability to separate reality from fantasy. She can’t see through the men who want to use her, until the end, by which time it is too late.
If you have never read this classic piece of literature, run out and get a copy. Flaubert once said, “I am Emma Bovary,” and this remark has caused a great deal of controversy. However, I think he was right; furthermore, I believe, at times, there is a little bit of Emma in all of us.
By the way, the Isabelle Hubert film version of the book did not receive critical acclaim, but I like it – a LOT!
6 stars – this is the first time I have awarded this rating. Reserved for only the absolute best of the best.
--Chiron, 12/1/07

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