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Topic: Idle Tittle-Tattle about Madame Bovary Inside

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Date Posted: 1/18/2011 3:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2010
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I agree about the POV.  I kept finding myself getting a little confused and having to go back because the POV of the narration kept changing and I would miss when the change had occurred.

I am not sure, but I believe that laying the blame on the reading of romance novels is a sign of the times that this book was written in.  Wasn't there a movement that claimed that women were being corrupted by reading inappropriate novels?  Honestly, I think there may have been more than one, but I think there was one going on during the writing of this novel.

Date Posted: 1/18/2011 5:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Tome Trader:  Maybe that bit in Part III, Chapter IV,  was also a foreshadow---"But Charles felt that if that poor old piano , which had pleased her vanity so much, were taken away, it would be like a partial suicide of his wife."   Have we underestimated this man?   He was aware of Emma's vanity, and something 'sub-conscious' made him connect death and Emma?

P. S. Emma was kinda like Becky Sharp and Lily Bart, dontcha think?



Last Edited on: 1/18/11 5:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/18/2011 8:42 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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I haven't read House of Mirth and I am not sure who Becky Sharp is. 

Mirth sits on my shelf unread for now because I know how it ends, I saw the movie. Yes, Emma made me think of Lily.

Subject: Flaubert's own life
Date Posted: 1/19/2011 3:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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I was reading a little bit about Flaubert's life and literary works, and discovered something that, to me, explains a certain delicious sentence that I especially noted in Part Two, Chap. XII.    I believe it's Flaubert himself saying to the reader:  "The human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out a tune for a dancing bear, when we hope with our music to move the stars."     . . . . . . . . sigh . . . . . . .

The biographical info I was reading  said "beset by ill-health, personal misfortune, and a frustration of what many critics consider his naturally Romantic tendencies, he devoted his life to long hours and heavy toil over literature,  (Doesn't this sound as though he was a composite of Charles and Emma, in his own person?)  Tome Trader remarked in here about how diligent G.F. was in seeking, always, "le mot juste", and that had to be laborious, don't you think?

Curious about Flaubert's other works besides Madame Bovary, I looked into The Sentimental Education (1869) and learned that it presents a satirical picture of life among French dilettantes, intellectuals, and revolutionaries at the time of the Revolution of 1848.  Its central character is a young man from the provinces who has studied law and wishes to install himself in Paris as a dilettante in the arts and a young man of fashion and affairs, patterning his life according to the modes and principles of his time, in which the influence of the Romantic period is still strong.    "After much passion, unrequited love, a couple of mistresses, the inability to obtain a 'fortune', a broken engagement, etc,, the young man, Frederic, continues to be disillusioned in his attempts to apply in the changing life of his time the romantic principles he absorbed from his reading as an adolescent."

It sounds a lot as though this book could be put in a boxed set with Madame Bovary, kind of a "HIS/HERS" of 19th Century disillusioned fantasizers.

An interesting mental exercise might be to try to imagine one's self as Charles, Leon, Rodolphe, and M'sieu L'Heureux and figure out each one's appraisal of Emma........what did each man want from her?

I think it might be a little harsh to brand Emma as having had an actual mental illness, but I still am pondering her "neuroticism."   Plus, I, too, am glad that I read this book.

 

 



Last Edited on: 2/7/15 12:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/20/2011 12:11 AM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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Interesting that so many of you complain about so much of the book being "boring."  Clear and present evidence that Flaubert is succeeding at being a writer of realism. Hear what I am saying?

The first American to write this way was Mark Twain. Of American writers I know of, the most truly "realistic" of 19th century writers was William Dean Howells. And at least to my taste, he was usually pretty boring.

And around the same time, in Europe, de Maupassant was striving for realism, pretty successfully, as was Zola, Yet Zola is most regarded as a proponent of an idea of human nature called naturalism. And the naturalistic writers were consciously striving to write books that exhibited/proved their credo.

And of the earlier realists and all the naturalists, the only one who figured out that you had to show your reader people being "realistic."  You couldn't hope to succeed by telling them, was Mark Twain. And you get all the way to Hemingway and Faulker until writers put it into practice. And today, with all we know about technique, writers who always show and never tell are a great minority. I am reading a very polular  cat named Daniel Silva who actually writer pretty well  --- but he still often writes descriptions like "his eyes showed shrewdness and intelligence." And I read it and say to myself, "Don't tell me, chump. Write like the big girls do it (e.g. Elizabeth George). Show me he is shrewd and smart."



Last Edited on: 1/20/11 12:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/20/2011 8:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Interesting that so many of you complain about so much of the book being "boring."  Clear and present evidence that Flaubert is succeeding at being a writer of realism. Hear what I am saying?

Queen Snark, here.  Yeah, I already put down that everything that he wrote in that book served a purpose. 

I also felt that Flaubert also did a lot of telling instead of showing. A lot of description could have been more effective as dialogue.

Date Posted: 1/23/2011 9:42 PM ET
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Today I finished reading the account of the trial of M. Flaubert for Mme.Bovary , on charges of corrupting public morality and defaming religion.  I found the "Case for the Prosecution" and the (longer) "Case for the Defense" very interesting.  I hope the editions that the rest of you read included this account, too.  I have a feeling that this book will be one of the more memorable novels that I have read.

Date Posted: 2/5/2011 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2010
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I finally finished Madame Bovary (my reading time got cut short at the end of January).  Overall, I was more impressed with the book then I originally anticipated.  I had not heard much about the book before we all agreed to read it, but in asking others I was a little worried that I would not like it.

I personally found part 2 to be the hardest to get through.  I don't know what about part 2 was so difficult; I just know that I flew through part 1 and couldn't put it down.  But part 2 did not intrigue me as much.

I think my favorite line was: Idols must not be touched; the gilt comes off on our hands from Part 3.  I think this was a very eloquent way to phrase the sentiment. 

Overall, I felt sorry for Emma because I believe that based on a number of things in her life, she was poorly set up for real life.  But in the same respect, I found her a very hard character to read because I constantly had to squash the desire to smack her or maybe shake her.

Subject: Postscript to Mme. Bovary
Date Posted: 2/8/2011 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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While doing a bit of literary research on Latin Amerrican authors, I discovered a footnote to our recent colloquy on Madame Bovary.  As some of you are well aware, the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature went to Peruvian  Mario Vargas Llosa.   One of his works is The Perpetual Orgy: Flaubert and Madame Bovary.

"Vargas Llosa's superb 1975 study in Spanish of Madame Bovary, La orga perpetua, is now available in Helen Lane's English translation.  Flaubert's correspondence provides the title: "The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy."  Every reader of modern fiction will find this work particularly worthwhile not only in itself but also for Vargas Llosa's personal appreciation and scholarly interpretation and as an impelling invitation to reread the novel.  Vargas Llosa reveals his own personal devotion to this novel: "A handful of fictional characters have marked my life....None of them has been present as persistently, and with none of them have I had as clearly passionate a relationship, as Emma Bovary."

The author divides his text according to major trends in literary criticism:  the subjective approach, the scientific approach, and the literary history approach.  From the first to the last page, his scholarship, his literary sensitivity, his perceptions, his careful documentation, and, above all, his devotion to the novel and to Emma, in particular, result in a profoundly personal and professional study--one not to be missed."



Last Edited on: 9/2/12 11:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/2/2012 11:26 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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September, 2012 ----   It happened again------something I just finished reading ties in with something I read quite a while back.  This time it was A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather, that I just finished earlier today.  Part of the "blurb" on the back cover of this little 150-page novel set in Sweet Water, a fading railroad town on the Western plains in about 1883, reads:

"In this masterpiece of nuance and revelation, Willa Cather composed something like an answer to Madame Bovary, a subtly shifting portrait of a lady who reflects the conventions of her age even as she defies them and whose transformations embody the decline and coarsening of the American frontier."

I do recommend the Cather book to you who read Madame Bovary together in this Forum.   You will find Marion Forrester, the "lost lady" of the story, an interesting character

 

Date Posted: 9/11/2012 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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I am reading "A Lost Lady" now, Bonnie.

Date Posted: 2/7/2015 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Feb.7, 2015 -  On this date in 1857, a French court acquitted author Gustave Flaubert of obscenity for his serialized novel "Madame Bovary."

Since we had our little seminar on Mme. Bovary, and John W. , commenting on realism in literature, here in this forum, pointed out that the first American 'realist' was Mark Twain, and that "the most truly 'realistic' of the 19th C. American writers was William Dean Howells, I finally got around to reading Howells.  His A Hazard of New Fortune and yes, it, too, had an abundance of mundane details such as many of us noted in Flaubert's novel.  And yes, because of that, Howells was kinda tedious, at times.  But just as with the French novel, I'm glad I read it, just the same.

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