Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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The great accomplishment of Davis's translation has nothing really to do with her meticulousness, and everything to do with the spirit and energy that drive the narrative...Yes, this is a great translation of a great novel...If you have missed it before, you should not miss it this time.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shocks us today about Flaubert's devastatingly realized tale of a young woman destroyed by the reckless pursuit of her romantic dreams is its pure artistry: the poise of its narrative structure, the opulence of its prose (marvelously captured in the English translation of Francis Steegmuller), and its creation of a world whose minor figures are as vital as its doomed heroine. In reading Madame Bovary, one experiences a work that remains genuinely revolutionary almost a century and a half after its creation.
 

About Gustave Flaubert

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GUSTAVE FLAUBERT was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a prominent physician. A solitary child, he was attracted to literature at an early age, and after his recovery from a nervous breakdown suffered while a law student, he turned his total energies to writing. Aside from journeys to the Near East, Greece, Italy, and North Africa, and a stormy liaison with the poetess Louise Colet, his life was dedicated to the practice of his art. The form of his work was marked by intense aesthetic scrupulousness and passionate pursuit of le mot juste; its content alternately reflected scorn for French bourgeois society and a romantic taste for exotic historical subject matter. The success of Madame Bovary (1857) was ensured by government prosecution for “immorality”; Salammbô (1862) and The Sentimental Education (1869) received a cool public reception; not until the publication of Three Tales (1877) was his genius popularly acknowledged. Among fellow writers, however, his reputation was supreme. His circle of friends included Turgenev and the Goncourt brothers, while the young Guy de Maupassant underwent an arduous literary apprenticeship under his direction. Increasing personal isolation and financial insecurity troubled his last years. His final bitterness and disillusion were vividly evidenced in the savagely satiric Bouvard and Pécuchet, left unfinished at his death in 1880.LYDIA DAVIS has been a MacArthur Fellow, National Book Award finalist, and Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She was awarded the 2003 French-American Foundation Translation Prize for her translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way and lives near Albany, New York.JESSICA HISCHE is a letterer, illustrator, typographer, and web designer. She currently serves on the Type Directors Club board of directors, has been named a Forbes Magazine "30 under 30" in art and design as well as an ADC Young Gun and one of Print Magazine's "New Visual Artists". She has designed for Wes Anderson, McSweeney's, Tiffany & Co, Penguin Books and many others. She resides primarily in San Francisco, occasionally in Brooklyn.
 
Published September 23, 2010 by Penguin Classics. 384 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, History, Romance. Non-fiction
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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Jane Smiley on Oct 01 2010

The great accomplishment of Davis's translation has nothing really to do with her meticulousness, and everything to do with the spirit and energy that drive the narrative...Yes, this is a great translation of a great novel...If you have missed it before, you should not miss it this time.

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