Monday, March 7, 2011

Readalong : Madame Bovary : Week one

I'm participating in The Lost Entwife's March readalong of Madame Bovary. The reading assignment for March 1-7 was Chapters 1-6. I'm reading from the 2010 Viking edition translated by Lydia Davis.

I'll try not to give away too much of the story, but you may find some spoilers in my readalong posts.


I chose to skip Davis' introduction and jumped right into Flaubert. The story begins from the perspective of a group of schoolboys as a new boy is introduced into their established routine. Flaubert quickly abandons this perspective, however, and tells the story from a detached third person perspective. The new boy is Charles Bovary and, in the first six chapters, he quickly grows from the fifteen year old boy of page one into a country doctor newly married to his second wife, the Madame Bovary of the book's title. The reader is given insight into the character of Emma Bovary in chapter six that probably sets up the rest of the book.

Flaubert is no stranger to detailed descriptive passages. I'm not a fan of such passages that do little to nothing to advance the story. Luckily, there is something to the rhythm of the writing (or at least the translation) that makes all the description tolerable. However, I still find it difficult at times to maintain my concentration and find myself re-reading lines. I'm hoping my interest will increase as Madame Bovary moves to center stage.

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Madame Bovary

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