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Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert and Lydia Davis and Kate Reading

Overview -

Now a major motion picture starring Mia Wasikowska, Paul Giamatti, Laura Carmichael, Ezra Miller, and Rhys Ifans, and directed by Sophie Barthes

Emma Bovary is the original desperate housewife. Beautiful but bored, she is married to the provincial doctor Charles Bovary yet harbors dreams of an elegant and passionate life.  Read more...



 

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More About Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert; Lydia Davis; Kate Reading
 
 
 
Overview

Now a major motion picture starring Mia Wasikowska, Paul Giamatti, Laura Carmichael, Ezra Miller, and Rhys Ifans, and directed by Sophie Barthes

Emma Bovary is the original desperate housewife. Beautiful but bored, she is married to the provincial doctor Charles Bovary yet harbors dreams of an elegant and passionate life. Escaping into sentimental novels, she finds her fantasies dashed by the tedium of her days. Motherhood proves to be a burden; religion is only a brief distraction. In an effort to make her life everything she believes it should be, she spends lavishly on clothes and on her home and embarks on two disappointing affairs. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, Emma takes drastic action with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter.
When published in 1857, Madame Bovary was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for its heroine. Today the novel is considered the first masterpiece of realist fiction. In this landmark translation, Lydia Davis honors the nuances and particulars of a style that has long beguiled readers of French, giving new life in English to the book that redefined the novel as an art form.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

 
Details
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
  • Date: Sept 2010
 
Excerpts

From the cover
Part One

We were in study hall when the headmaster walked in, followed by a new boy not wearing a school uniform, and by a janitor carrying a large desk. Those who were sleeping awoke, and we all stood up as though interrupting our work.

The headmaster motioned us to sit down, then turned to the teacher and said softly, "Monsieur Roger, I'm placing this pupil in your care. He'll begin in the eighth grade, but if his work and conduct are good enough, he'll be promoted to where he ought to be at his age."

The newcomer hung back in the corner behind the door, so that we could hardly see him. He was a country boy of about fifteen, taller than any of us. He wore his hair cut straight across the forehead, like a cantor in a village church, and he had a gentle, bewildered look. Although his shoulders were not broad, his green jacket with black buttons was apparently too tight under the arms, and the slits of its cuffs revealed red wrists accustomed to being bare. His legs, sheathed in blue stockings, protruded from his yellowish trousers, which were pulled up tight by a pair of suspenders. He wore heavy, unpolished, hobnailed shoes.

We began to recite our lessons. He concentrated all his attention on them, as though listening to a sermon, not daring even to cross his legs or lean on his elbow, and when the bell rang at two o'clock the teacher had to tell him to line up with the rest of us.

When we entered a classroom we always tossed our caps on the floor, to free our hands; as soon as we crossed the threshold we would throw them under the bench so hard that they struck the wall and raised a cloud of dust; this was "the way it should be done."

But the new boy either failed to notice this maneuver or was too shy to perform it himself, for he was still holding his cap on his lap at the end of the prayer. It was a head-gear of composite nature, combining elements of the busby, the lancer cap, the round hat, the otter-skin cap and the cotton nightcap—one of those wretched things whose mute ugliness has great depths of expression, like an idiot's face. Egg-shaped and stiffened by whalebone, it began with three rounded bands, followed by alternating diamond-shaped patches of velvet and rabbit fur separated by a red stripe, and finally there was a kind of bag terminating in a cardboard-lined polygon covered with complicated braid. A network of gold wire was attached to the top of this polygon by a long, extremely thin cord, forming a kind of tassel. The cap was new; its visor was shiny.

"Stand up," said the teacher.

He stood up; his cap fell. The whole class began to laugh.

He bent down and picked it up. A boy beside him knocked it down again with his elbow; he picked it up once again.

"Will you please put your helmet away?" said the teacher, a witty man.

A loud burst of laughter from the other pupils threw the poor boy into such a state of confusion that he did not know whether to hold his cap in his hand, leave it on the floor or put it on his head. He sat down again and put it back on his lap.

"Stand up," said the teacher, "and tell me your name."

The new boy mumbled something unintelligible.

"Say it again!"

The same mumbled syllables came from his lips again, drowned out by the jeers of the class.

"Louder!" cried the teacher. "Louder!"

With desperate determination the new boy opened his enormous mouth and, as though calling someone, shouted this word at the top of his lungs: "Charbovari!"

This instantly touched off an uproar which rose in a crescendo of shrill exclamations, shrieks, barks, stamping of feet and repeated shouts of "Charbovari! Charbovari!"...

 
Reviews

"Madame Bovary is like the railroad stations erected in its epoch: graceful, even floral, but cast of iron." — John Updike - "Madame Bovary is like the railroad stations erected in its epoch: graceful, even floral, but cast o

 
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