Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Madame Bovary

My first ever blog post was one which told my 0 followers that I was reading Madame Bovary. Well now I'll tell all two of you what I think of it. Briefly. I'm going to write a bigger post about Emma herself in a day or so.

The first thing to say is that this is - well - just.... fantastic. I finished the book in about three bittersweet sittings and, nowadays, that's no mean feat for me. The plot races along, at the same frantic and romantic pace which always invariably evades poor Emma, the tone is oh-so-beautifully tragic, the characters - well the characters are one of the best things about this book. You feel like, when the focus isn't on them, they're marauding around in the background, carrying on with their plotting and scheming and provincial idiocies. They feel real.

The second thing: I wish I was French. I just don't get the feeling that I experienced this book properly. I read that Flaubert spent hours crafting each sentance, that he tapped on his desk and the floor with his feet and hands to beat out the rhythym of a sentence. I really don't think that I'll ever be able to experience this book fully ever - because my French extends to "vous parlais anglais?", "je voudrais un jambon" and "je ne comprends pas, pardon beaucoup." Emma aches and yearns and pines for romance and true love and experience - and so much probably got lost in translation that.... well. Us poor old roast beef are probably never going to be able to really appreciate the depth of her feelings. Which is perhaps why I got a very mixed set of feelings from Emma's character. I can't decide whether her constant buffeting against her reality is admirable or completely stupid. On the one hand, she's completely and utterly trapped and it never really seems that she has much choice but to marry Charles. On the other, her romantic yearnings and pretensions completely blind her to the actual beauty of her situation: a loving daughter, a passionate husband, a comfortable set-up which gives her the financial freedom to do more or less what she wishes. Hmmmm.


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