This non-academic author has previously brought you reader's guides to the depths and subtle pleasures of works by Joyce and Faulkner. With this book he brings you to the ultimate pleasures of Gustave Flaubert's masterpiece. This author treats Madame Bovary as the Zen novel, working on the reader in the same way Zen works on a disciple. He shows how Flaubert uses a radically new style in order to create a literary breakthrough of a similar order as Zen and has composed the ultimate music of this novel in the counterpoint of style and plot. The style of the novel is grounded in Zen-like detachment and freedom whereas the plot is mired in desire, illusion and determinism. In the plot the inevitable demise of Madame Bovary is driven by her passionate nature and corresponding vulnerability to illusion. By contrast Flaubert's radical style is built on the philosophy of detachment. Flaubert finds a principal enemy of human freedom deep in the guts of mankind in the tapeworm of desire. The desire tapeworm feeds on freedom and excretes dissatisfaction. Emma or Madame Bovary is not free because she has the worm.
Emma wants, Emma gets, but she is quickly dissatisfied and then the worm wants more. Emma could be a poster girl for our 21st century credit card society. Flaubert's novel shows through the fate of Emma Bovary the dangers of the worm. For those without freedom fate is in charge.