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Madame Bovary : Penguin Classics - Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary

Penguin Classics

Paperback Published: March 2003
ISBN: 9780140449129
Number Of Pages: 384
For Ages: 18+ years old

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Emma is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment, and when real life continues to fail to live up to her romantic expectations, the consequences are devastating.

Flaubert's erotically charged and psychologically acute portrayal of Emma Bovary caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857.

It was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for his heroine; but Flaubert insisted: 'Madame Bovary, c'est moi.'

This modern translation by Flaubert's biographer, Geoffrey Wall, retains all the delicacy and precision of the French original. The edition also contains a preface by the novelist Michele Roberts.

About the Author

Flaubert was born in 1821. After illness ended a career in law, he retired to live with his mother and devote himself to writing. He achieved limited success in his own lifetime, but his reputation grew steadily after his death in 1880.


A hard character to like, but an important story to read


Emma Bovary is a hard character to like and barrack for. From today's standards, she comes across as a cheating, spoilt, ungrateful brat who squanders her life, her family and in the end, her self respect. But I think Flaubert does this deliberately, possibly partly from his clear disdain of marriage, but also as a comment on the times- women have few rights, men seem to have few moral obligations in 18th century France, obsession with appearance and "being bourgeois" often dominates people's actions and lives much to their detriment. Emma Bovary is described as being quixotic in nature by some, I disagree. Her story is not one of fantasy, one of valour, or bravery. Emma Bovary is a tragedy, as a wife, mother, and eventually as a human being. She becomes a victim of her circumstances and her vanities and spirals out of control. I think Tolstoy might have pinched a little bit of Emma and put her into Anna Karenina! This is a good read, it takes a bit to sink in, but I think it's an important book as for me Emma Bovary is the precursor to many of the classic tragic female characters in great world literature, all of whom have an important story to tell in our journey for women to be true equals in society.

Brisbane Australia


Madame Bovary

4.0 1


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

ISBN: 9780140449129
ISBN-10: 0140449124
Series: Penguin Classics
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: March 2003
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.8  x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.28
Edition Number: 1