NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!

Lezlie



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MADAME BOVARY

by Gustave Flaubert



"Emma Bovary, the beautiful young wife of a French country doctor, yearns for romance with such fervor that she is willing to risk anything for its magic. Bored by her provincial life and the clumsy attentions of her husband, she is drawn toward a more sophisticated world, developing desire that will ultimately command a terrible price." (From the CD container)

Madame Bovary reminded me a lot of Anna Karenina, even though it's been many years since I read the latter. Like 20 or there about. I would be willing to bet there have been reams of scholarly papers produced comparing Emma and Anna. I'd like to go back and read Anna Karenina again with Madame Bovary in mind.

That little observation aside, I have to say I was not bowled over by Madame Bovary. Somewhat like when I read Wuthering Heights, I thought Flaubert's writing was absolutely gorgeous, but I didn't care for a single character. I didn't detest them all the way I did Heathcliff and company. I simply didn't have any feelings for them, good or bad. Except maybe for Emma. I thought she was a whiny simpleton whom I badly wanted to slap on numerous occasions. (I am detecting anger management issues. Hmmmm . . . ) Yes, I am aware that I completely lack that girl-bonding thing that drives women to feel empathy with Emma Bovary and many other classic heroines. I need to work on that.



25 comments:

Veronica said...

I felt the same way! I love reading classic literature, but I have such a hard time when I read books where everyone is so unlikeable.

Lezlie said...

Veronica ~ I hear you. Actually, even unlikable may be preferable to unmemorable. Though that may not be right either. I'd take the wishy-washy Charles Bovary over Heathcliff any day!

Lezlie

Literary Feline said...

I liked Madame Bovary quite a bit when I read it, but that was so long ago. I wonder what I would think of it now that I am older.

Lezlie said...

Literary Feline ~ I could well be in the minority regarding my feelings on this book. It is interesting to consider our ages as we read some of these classics. I could see where younger women would relate to Emma more than I can at forty-four.

Lezlie

Amanda said...

Oh I totally understand what you mean. I mean, about the slapping some of these heroines out there.

Lezlie said...

Amanda ~ Oh, good! We can sit next to each other at the anger management meetings. :-) I sometimes feel bad about not relating at all to these women, but geez. They make it hard sometimes! :-)

Lezlie

JoAnn said...

Lezlie,
My feelings about Madame Bovary pretty much mirror yours. I read it a few years ago and it was OK, but I didn't love it. I listened to Teaching Company's lectures on Wuthering Heights a couple weeks ago and have decided that I must read it. I may be the only one around that hasn't!

Trish said...

Oh no--detest Heathcliff, et al? I'm closing my ears (or should I say eyes?). I've heard really mixed things about Madame Bovary--and Anna Karenina for that matter. But wow for reading such heafty things lately--I can't do them back to back like this.

Lezlie said...

JoAnn ~ I still need to listen to my TC lecture on Wuthering Heights. It may put a different spin on it for me. Madame Bovary also. But I want to listen to them in order, so finishing Tristram Shandy is holding me up!

Trish ~ I know! I almost didn't 'fess up to my real feelings on Wuthering Heights, but I bet on everyone who loves it civilly agreeing to disagree. :-) As I said to JoAnn, it could be that once I listen to my Teaching Company lecture on it, I may alter my thoughts about it.

I definitely did not appreciate Anna Karenina when I read it all those years ago, but I have every intention of rereading it in the future, hopefully with a more mature reading background than I had back then. Though judging from my reaction to Madame Bovary, I may not have matured at all. :-)

Lezlie

Teddy Rose said...

Great review Lezlie. I also compared Anna with Emma. I liked Madame Bovary but was not enthralled either.

I do have compassion for characters like Emma and Anna in that, they didn't have many options as women back then. Women didn't get to have fun like the men. Their only entertainment was comprised of having to conform with other women's interests and couldn't have any of their own.

Lezlie said...

Teddy Rose ~ I do have to keep things like that in mind. It's just that in this case her "interests" seemed all to be so shallow. Like you said, their options were limited. But I can't help but think if you're going to break the rules anyway, make it worth it! :-)

Lezlie

Rebecca Reid said...

I enjoyed reading this book last year. I don't get angry at the heroine but I don't think we're supposed to love them. My attitude was more along the lines of "I'm so glad I don't live in that time period" because it seems they are a product of a repressed society. I guess I feel bad for them -- both Anna Karennina and Madame Bovary were completely stupid and yet stuck.

So I just saw what Teddy Rose said. That's what I mean...

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ I was just reading something the other day that talked about how we're not necessarily supposed to like Emma. It was a very interesting viewpoint that I want to read more about. I do think that once I develop an irritation with the heroine, I tend to read these books far too superficially. Another thing I need to work on! :-)

Lezlie

Dar said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one to not be crazy about this book. It may just be because I just didn't feel connected to anyone or anything in the novel. Oh well, on to the next one...

Lezlie said...

Dar ~ It looks like we are definitely not alone! I'm lightening up for next month for sure. Maybe then I'll not be quite so hard on some of these. :-)

Lezlie

Jeane said...

I felt pretty blah about Madame Bovary, too. In fact, I didn't even finish it! I just didn't care about what happened to those people...

Lezlie said...

Jeane ~ I kind of felt sorry for Charles. He was so oblivious.

Lezlie

Charley said...

It's been a few years now, but I recall liking the carriage scene. But agreed, Emma Bovary is not the most likeable woman.

Lezlie said...

Charley ~ I'm having a vague recollection of a hand out the window, now that you mention it! :-) The writing throughout was lovely!

Lezlie

Jaimie said...

I haven't read Madame Bovary in spite of good intentions and can understand exactly what you mean about Wuthering Heights. I love your comment on the "girl-bonding thing". Ha!

Lezlie said...

Jaimie ~ It was the best way I could think of to describe it. :-) I am also missing a "maternal instinct" chip in my brain that causes me to not be moved by a lot of books other women adore. It's a weird thing.

Lezlie

Ladytink_534 said...

I thought about picking this up last month when I saw an old trailer for the movie adaptation...

Lezlie said...

Ladytink ~ It's very worth reading. I just didn't connect with anyone. It's one of those books that, now that I'm familiar with it, I will most likely read more critique on it and mull it over for a while.

Lezlie

Terri B. said...

Well, you pretty much summed up my thoughts about Madame Bovary!

Lezlie said...

Terri ~ I always feel a little bad about not caring for a classic, but it's sure nice when you find out you're not the only one who feels that way. It makes me believe maybe I *do* get it, and I just didn't like it. And that's OK! :-)

Lezlie