Book of da Week : Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary
We’ve forgotten what the title is.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (pronounced: flaw-burt) is a novel from 1856. Quite the while ago, which is why its subject matter scandalised France and led to the term “Bovarised” for any individual who had read the book. Such was its impact!

Of course these days it’s rather tame, which adds greatly to its charm. This is aided further still by Flaubert’s brilliant prose, which we’ve touched upon before in our review of Three Tales, which adds a glossy layer of gloss to the general glossiness of Madame Bovary. The eponymous lady herself doesn’t begin the tale as Mrs. Bovary though, oh no!

Madame Bovary

Indeed, she’s Emma Rouault and she’s wooed by Charles Bovary (“Charbovari!”) a doctor (and you can read up about what “doctors” got up to in the olden days in our Blood and Guts book review) whom is a bit of a wet drip, as opposed to a rambunctious cad. For you see, she’s a bit of a literary need. She’s the equivalent of a 50 Shades of Grey reader who’s become delusional and seeks a life of excitement, as opposed to the dull (although well-to-do) provincial existence she doesn’t enjoy. Some people, eh?

Basically, after Part 1, she goes mental and begins pursuing all sorts of debauchery. This is splendidly hidden behind the polished veneer of Flaubert’s endlessly inspired writing style. Man, this guy could have made a 12 hour shift stacking baked beans onto shelves sound like the most spectacularly romantic thing since a sliced loaf proposed to a gingerbread man.

The story is still highly engaging, though, which is why you won’t find us reviewing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby on this blog. Sublime writing from the man, but an insipid and nauseating narrative which had Professional Moron’s esteemed editor, Mr. Wapojif, hitting a low and reading BuzzFeed in an attempt to overcome his horrified stupor.

You want to avoid such a fate. Correct? Good! Read Madame Bovary instead. It’s awesome.

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