Sunday, January 16, 2011

Madame Bovary

Francis of nonsuchbooks hosted a read-a-long in September 2010 which I attempted to join. Unfortunately it wasn't good timing for me to concentrate on this beautiful translation of the French classic. But I have made the time and place to finish Lydia Davis translation this past few weeks while I've been on break.

In preparing my thoughts for review here I felt disappointed that I should be better able at critically analysis this book. I had placed this book on a fairly high pedestal for it's supposed portrayal of feminist in another era. I felt like I had just read a great classic with many great reviews of this translation, that I should have some analysis to offer here in the review. But no, alas I have no great insights to offer. except to say this -

I did not enjoy the first part (probably due to where my head was at the time), so I delayed returning to the book for part 2 and 3. However, when I did return to the book, I was gripped with interest and transported to another time in history. I couldn't really put the book down. Now I'm tempted to return to Part 1 just to see what I missed.

I enjoyed the story, as if I was watching from the village itself, as the life of the little town carried on around me. It was enjoyable, but I did not find it revealed anything to me about Flaubert's feminist standings, or about a woman who was driven to strive for more than women were permitted. I just think she was terribly unhappy, terribly self centred, and unable to find that which would fulfill her soul. In the end, she appears to have made the only choice available to her.

I thought for a while that Charles was a perpetrator of male chauvinism, responsible for 'keeping his wife' bound in by the norms - but in the end, I wondered if Charles was not a victim in this story. Sadly, his life and death was bound in her, and her selfish ways, left him with no hope for the future. Berthe was definitely a victim of the sad story. I wonder if anyone would be so bold as to write the story of Berthe now??

But Thank You Frances, and to all those who participated, cos I really enjoyed your reviews and I am pretty proud of myself for reading another classic novel from France....


Karen said...

Well done on finishing this one T! I found this spoke a lot to me about Feminism and the place of woman in society - even modern day society I think.

Tamara said...

Karen, I appreciate that its in there, but I think I was distracted by her selfishness?? I'd love to talk more with you about it sometime.

Frances said...

So glad that you made it through! I think that the first part was a bit of a surprise to everyone even those of us that had read the novel before. No one seemed to remember that it both begins and ends with Charles which speaks to your charge of chauvinism. And even though he legitimately is ruined by her loss, one has to wonder if he mourns Emma or his vision of her?

Tamara said...

Frances, I also wondered that, but then felt that the author wasn't very clear. I wondered if the author being male, expressed the husbands grief by reflecting on her beauty?? but interesting point.

Touloulou said...

I had to read it when I was in high school, and I never went further than page 100, this is more or less the only book that I didn't finish. It was just so booooooring, and though some people liked it, I don't think I'll give it a second shot!
But well done on reading it.