No doubt a wonderful translation that to my mind must do the same thing for Flaubert that Pevear and Volokhonsky did for Tolstoy, Chekhov and Dostoevsky. Lydia Davis's Introduction is also not to be missed, but perhaps unlike many if not most first-time readers of this novel, I knew little of the plot besides concerning an adulterous woman, and soon into the Introduction I discovered it was rife with "plot spoilers" I didn't want to know before reading the book. So for like minded readers, I would recommend reading the Introduction as an "Afterwards" after first reading the novel. A further advantage of this approach will be the discovery of how many unique and significant aspects of Flaubert's writing style and related events in the novel one may have noticed during reading that are discussed and revealed in this excellent Introduction, rather than having been tipped off beforehand. (I was pleased with what I had picked up, happy to learn more I hadn't.) For scholars and/or readers who have read previous translations and want to re-visit this work, I also highly recommend this Davis's along with her very insightful Introduction.
An original femanist in her own time.
This book is a classic! Loved reading it and hated to end it.
Flaubert writes in a modern style, and I would suggest this to anyone who wants to read more classical literature but is put off by the language. The Penguin Classics edition had some great footnotes, and a wonderful introduction by Geoffrey Wall.
Gustave Flaubert's debut novel remains as relevant today as it was controversial when first published in 1856. Although subtitled Provincial Lives, Flaubert not only chronicles the small town petit bourgeois lifestyle of the age, but rather excels in painting a vivid psychological portrait of title character Emma Bovary. The banalities of her external provincial life contrast sharply with the internal fantasy life of the pretty, bored wife of a mediocre physician, setting her up for extravagant and ultimately tragic indulgences in both material goods and adulterous affairs. Flaubert describes both worlds masterfully, showing the stark contrast between the two which often goes unnoticed, with a plot structure that moves along without being weighed down with excessive description. It is at once an old and very modern story of disappointment. Emma is intriguingly also the prime example of how mental ills transform into physical suffering, almost as a textbook example of nineteenth century hysterical psychosomatic illness, as well as a lightening rod for immorality and female sexuality. Might as well see what all the fuss is about: this classic does not disappoint.
The protagonist, Madame Bovary is the quintessential self-absorbed, materialistic woman who is not even drawn to her own child. As I read the book, I became increasingly impatient with her and her narcissistic worldview. As the story evolved, though, I was struck by Flaubert's ability to make me see myself in Madame Bovary. The subtle writing makes it impossible to avoid this query: how am I like Madame Bovary? I loved the book.
I guess Twitter was invented 150 years too late for her.
I didn't quite get this when I read it 35 years ago.
A book about a doctor's wife whose bordom with her "average" husband and life leads her into a woman whose morals decay with each affair she has, each lie she tells, each thing she steals. She eventually spirils down, out-of-control.
Flaubert's story of adultery.