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Madame Bovary

The original desperate housewife, even by today’s standards is known as “Madame Bovary”. The book was authored by Gustav Flaubert. It is a classic tale that just doesn’t seem to date. It is a perfect compilation of fiction based on the pinnacle of realism, the complexities of failure, and the murder of Romanticism.

It’s a sad thing about Emma Bovary. She was never able to escape her own tyranny stemming from her darkest desire. She was never able to avoid the anguish of her own oblivion. She is the most tragic heroine ever written about. This is at best one of the most painful and slowest suicides ever written about. Day by day she is resurrected by the many readers who bring her to life in print as that go through that misery that she not only heaps on herself, but everyone she comes in contact with. Life seems to be summoned on the page by Flaubert.

Madame Bovary’s power seems to stem from the determination from Flaubert to put each object he scrutinized exactly as it should be placed, looked, smelled, felt, tasted, or sounds. He never relaxed his determination. Flaubert held himself accountable to each and every word as the story unfolded. He labored long and hard to make sure the right words were selected. He said good sentences were like prose, and should be similar to good lines in poetry that are unable to be changed.

This book has singlehandedly changed the way novels were written through the years. Flaubert had such a staunch attention to detail that it almost seemed as though it were impossible. For 12 hours a day he would work at his desk. Sometimes this would go on for months. He discarded so much of his work and made only as much progress as one page per week. He applied so much pressure to each and every sentence. Translators have been put to the test to make sure the book came across as intended. Any translation of “Madame Bovary” requires a great deal of work to ensure the content passed along to the reader is not diminished in any way.

Many readers come away from the books with no love for Emma Bovary, but yet the follow her with the inability to look away. For some it is metaphorical and others it is quite literal. She is a woman who is covetous, yet small minded. She is bereft of the ability to love in any fashion and never feels truly connected to anyone. She suffers from a terminal boredom. She moves from one impulse to the next. Flaubert mastered not only the words, but the tale of Emma’s life in such a way that readers were captivated. The novel of “Madame Bovary” was referred to by Flaubert as a biography. The book has a realism within it that is uncanny.