Soon to be a major motion picture starring Mia Wasikowska, Ezra Miller, and Laura Carmichael!
“For her, life was as cold as an attic with a window looking to the north, and ennui, like a spider, was silently spinning its shadowy web in every cranny of her heart.”
Married to Charles, a provincial doctor, Emma Bovary yearns for a more glamorous life. Disenchanted with her husband and seeking an escape from their dull marriage she is soon tempted into a brief romantic liaison with another man. Although short-lived, she remains desirous of passion and the finer things in life and embarks on another affair, destroying her reputation.
Considered scandalous at the time, Emma Bovary’s superficial and immoral behaviour shocked readers and caused moral outcry. Flaubert holds up to ridicule not only Madame Bovary herself, but the society that dares to judge her.
The publication of this masterpiece of realism gave rise to an obscenity trial in 1857, which earned Flaubert an acquittal, and established Emma Bovary as one of literature’s greatest characters. The eponymous Emma is a victim of the smug, self-deluding French bourgeoisie that Flaubert despised.
For Flaubert’s contemporaries, the fascination came from the novelist’s meticulous account of provincial matters.
For the writer, subject matter was subordinate to his anguished quest for aesthetic perfection.
For his twentieth-century successors the formal experiments that underpin Madame Bovary look forward to the innovations of contemporary fiction. Flaubert’s protagonist in particular has never ceased to fascinate.
Romantic heroine or middle-class neurotic, flawed wife and mother or passionate protester against the conventions of bourgeois society, simultaneously the subject of Flaubert’s admiration and the butt of his irony – Emma Bovary remains one of the most enigmatic of fictional creations. Flaubert’s meticulous approach to the craft of fiction, his portrayal of contemporary reality, his representation of an unforgettable cast of characters make Madame Bovary one of the major landmarks of modern fiction.