Sunday, June 12, 2011

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Was surprised to discover this book was required reading for 15yr olds in the US and France as I thought the ideas might be lost on callow youths and perhaps scar them for life with the very French, cynical views on life.

I thought the book was about the sad life of mediocre Charles and wondered whether Emma- Madame Bovary could really be THAT self-destructive, as being an ambitious, savvy, social-climbing farm-girl, I had my doubts whether she would recklessly proceed to complete financial ruin. Somehow women are not THAT stupid - I mean they'll get into deep waters and then pull back. I lost any sympathy for her at her cold attitude towards her child who ended up in The Poor House being exploited for child-labour.
I wondered if the book was also making a commentary about women who took control of their sexuality - resulting in the ultimate salvation being a handful of arsenic- as mediocre Charles must have been a dullard also in bed and I really can't hold it against her for seeking outside affairs-- sounds like she got it right with Leon - but then I couldn't figure out the whole fantasy thing of buying expensive stuff for her lovers as she surely lived in the era when it was the other way around!
I was a bit depressed at the end as the Baddies 'won' - Lheureux established a regional company and Homais became the chief medical 'expert' in the village and won a National Award- and it seemed to reflect well the Guyana situation, making me feel the only salvation is a handful of Arsenic, but the death was so long and melodramatic I wouldn't do THAT!

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