Monday, March 14, 2011

Readalong : Madame Bovary : Week two

I'm participating in The Lost Entwife's March readalong of Madame Bovary. The reading assignment for March 8-14 was Chapters 7-12. In the edition I'm reading, the 2010 Viking, that's Part I Chapters 8-9 and Part II Chapters 1-4.

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

Despite my previously noted dislike of extended descriptive passages, I actually enjoyed Flaubert's description of the ball the Bovarys attend in this section of the novel. I could actually picture the beauty of the occasion. Unlike some of the descriptions, this felt like a noteworthy moment in the story, and it is. The ball has a lasting effect on Madame Bovary.

Part II begins with the Bovarys move to Yonville from Tostes. Here the description once again becomes a bit tedious. However, once they reach Yonville, I was drawn back in as Madame Bovary finds a kindred spirit in Monsieur Leon. I immediately wondered whether Madame Bovary and Leon would end up having an affair following the birth of the Bovary child (Emma is pregnant when they move to Yonville.) I've just reached the point in the story where it is clear they are enamored of each other. It seems likely that an affair will happen, but I've been left with a cliffhanger of sorts. This cliffhanger happened at precisely the right moment. I was beginning to wonder whether I would keep reading after this week, but now I'm forced to go on.

I'm interested to hear whether any of you have read multiple translations, or even the original French and a translation, of Madame Bovary. I'm curious about the quality of Lydia Davis' translation. From my minimal internet research, it seems she has a good reputation as a translator. The reason for my curiosity relates to the extended descriptive scenes. Does the translation affect their enjoyability/readability?

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Madame Bovary


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