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Madame Bovary, moeurs de province
Gustave Flaubert
publisher: , 1857

translated as:
Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 1993
translation:

refered to by:
Justine
Marquis de Sade

Dangling Man
Saul Bellow

Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Herzog
Saul Bellow

Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad

Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov

Swann's Way
Marcel Proust

[Vreemd]
Bob Rigter


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The plot: Charles Bovary is a country physician who, after an unhappy first marriage, marries the daughter of a patient. Emma is eager to leave her father's dirty farm but finds marriage to be less romantic and satisfying than she expected. Charles is not a prince, but a bumbling, aging man. Even when at work he performs more like a veterinarian than a skilled surgeon. Indeed, when he and the local chemist attempt a new procedure on a clubfoot, the patient gets gangrene and loses his leg.
Disgusted, Emma develops a relationship with Leon Dupuis, a young lawyer. She refuses to sleep with him but regrets it after he leaves town. She then meets Rodolphe Boulanger, a wealthy landowner who seduces Emma to pass the time. They have a brief if passionate affair.
When Boulanger abandons her, Emma returns to Leon, this time giving in to their mutual passion. Her affair has an air of desperation. She soon exhausts her limited funds on trips to visit her lover and love gifts. Knowing that her husband will discover her affair when their financial situation is revealed, Emma overdoses on arsenic and
dies miserably.

Commentary: Flaubert is associated with the naturalist school, artists who described events with medical precision. Indeed, Flaubert's father was a country surgeon and the writer trained briefly under him. In his letters, Flaubert described literature as "the dissection of a beautiful woman with her guts in her face, her leg skinned, and half a burned-out cigar lying on her foot."
This combination of medical detail and sexual violence summarizes Flaubert's style. He writes neither in the third person, nor the first, but in the odd voice the French call "style indirect libre." Events are recorded as if from the viewpoint of a particular character but not in that character's voice. Flaubert retains a distance that evokes objectivity but also seems disdainful. His characters all seem ridiculous. When Boulanger seduces Emma, for example, they are at a country fair and he whispers above the sound of a farm wife winning an award for her pig. Emma's ideals of love are no more exemplary than the woman's ideal of pig meat. (from: Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database)

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ON FLAUBERT'S BOOKSHELF

The Red and the Black
Stendhal, 1830
The rise and fall of Julian Sorel. Born into peasantry, he connives his way into aristocratic circles, but his powers of seduction lead to his downfall when he commits a crime of passion.

Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1605 / 1615
A comic study of delusion and its consequences; Don Quixote, the old gentleman of La Mancha, takes to the road in search of adventure and remains undaunted in the face of repeated disaster.

Les misérables
Victor Hugo, 1862
France in the first quarter of the 19th century: Jean Valjean, a poor man, steals a loaf of bread and then spends years trying to escape his reputation as a criminal. In later years he rises to become a respectable member of society; but policeman Javert will not allow him to forget his past.

The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas-père, 1845
Edmund Dantes, unjustly convicted of aiding the exiled Napoleon, escapes after fourteen years of imprisonment and seeks revenge in Paris.

'La Comédie Humaine'
Honoré de Balzac, 1830-1850
Multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories (nearly 100!) depicting French society in the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy 1815-1848.

Atala / René
Chateaubriand, 1801 / 1805
Two tales: 'Atala' (a Christian girl takes a vow to remain a virgin, but falls in love with a Natchez Indian) and 'René' (a young woman enters a convent rather than surrender to her passion for her brother).

BOOKS BY GUSTAVE FLAUBERT:

Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life
1857
Emma Bovary, a young country doctor' s wife, seeks escape from the boredom of her existence in love affairs and romantic yearnings, but is doomed to disillusionment.
WHAT TO READ AFTER MADAME BOVARY?

ADULTERY, PAST AND PRESENT
Anna Karenina
Leo N. Tolstoy, 1877
Anna Karenina abandons her empty existence as a society wife and embarks on a doomed love affair with the passionate but emotionally bankrupt Vronsky.

The Deeps of Deliverance
Frederik van Eeden, 1900
A woman who gives up a life of affluence to be with an artist is increasingly plagued by psychoses.

Effi Briest
Theodor Fontane, 1895
The story of a woman's adultery. The story of Effi and the Chinaman's ghost, the forest and dunes that are its setting, the stern Prussian code that makes the climax both terrible and absurd, are unique to Fontane and to German literature.

A Handful of Dust
Evelyn Waugh, 1934
After seven years of marriage, the Lady Brenda Last is bored with country life at Hetton Abbey. She drifts into an affair with shallow young socialite, John Beaver, and forsakes her unsuspecting husband as she becomes involved with the glamorous Belgravia set.

Roger's Version
John Updike, 1986
Divinity professor Roger Lambert is visited by Dale Kohler, an earnest young student who wants a grant to prove the existence of God by computer. The visit disrupts Roger's ordinary existence, bringing him into contact with the wild and sexy Verna (his half-sister's daughter), and leading to his wife's affair with Dale.

[De buitenvrouw]
Joost Zwagerman, 1994
Multicultural adultery in a Northern-Dutch suburb.

FOR THE LOVE OF BOVARY
The Perpetual Orgy: Flaubert and Madame Bovary
Mario Vargas Llosa, 1975
Deeply passionate and personal examination of Flaubert and his famous heroine, by the noted Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.

[Het zwart uit de mond van Madame Bovary]
Willem Brakman, 1974
Man obsessed by Bovary.

Flaubert's Parrot
Julian Barnes, 1984
A retired English doctor, in solitary widowhood, makes a pilgrimage through the life and art of Gustave Flaubert, whose work he has always venerated. As he meditates on his passion, he reveals as much about himself as he uncovers about Flaubert.

MADAME BOVARY'S INFLUENCE
The Awakening
Kate Chopin, 1899
Edna Pontellier, a young married woman with two small children gradually awakens - to her individuality and sexuality, and experiences love outside of her passionless marriage.

'In Search of Lost Time'
Marcel Proust, 1913-1927
Marcel Proust's famous seven-part cycle. See also: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove, Guermantes Way, Sodom and Gomorrah, Captive, Fugitive, and Time Regained.

Mademoiselle Fifi and Other Stories
Guy de Maupassant, 1887-1891
Twenty stories: Shepherd's Leap; Mademoiselle Fifi; Call It Madness?; Two Friends; At Sea; The Tribulations of Walter Schnaffs; Miss Harriet; A Duel; A Vendetta; The Model; Mother Savage; The Little Keg; The Dowry; The Bequest; Monsieur Parent; This Business of Latin; Madame Husson's May King; Hautot and Son; The Grove of Olives; Who Can Tell?

Cousin Basilio
José Maria Eça de Queirós, 1878
A Flaubertian study of a middle-class Lisbon family. The novel has been praised for its female characters: the romantic and sensual (and happily married) Luiza, who falls in love with her cousin Basilio; and Luiza's servant, Juliana, embittered and virginal, who scorns her.

Salammbo
1862
Carthaginian mercenaries revolt after the First Punic War with Rome, led by Matho, a Libyan involved with Salammbo, priestess in the temple of the Goddess Tanit.
Sentimental Education
1869
This novel begins with the hero - Frederic Moreau - leaving Paris and returning to the provinces and his mother. Part love story, part historical novel and satire it tells of how Moreau is driven by passion for an unattainable older woman.
Bouvard et Pécuchet
1913 (posthumous)
Two retired clerks set out in a search for truth and knowledge with persistent optimism, in light of the fact that each new attempt at learning about the world ends in disaster.
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