Jump to content
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!) ×
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!)
In the Name of God بسم الله

The French Masterpiece by Gustave Flaubert

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Madame-Bovary-Flaubert.jpg Fun-Facts-Friday-Gustave-Flaubert.gif



Madame Bovary (1856) is the French writer Gustave Flaubert's debut novel. The story focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.

When the novel was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, public prosecutors attacked the novel for obscenity. The resulting trial in January 1857 made the story notorious. After Flaubert's acquittal on 7 February 1857, Madame Bovary became a bestseller in April 1857 when it was published as a single volume. The novel is now considered Flaubert's masterpiece, as well as a seminal work of literary realism and one of the most influential novels. The British critic James Wood writes: "Flaubert established, for good or ill, what most readers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible."[1]

Complete Book in pdf


Teacher's notes on each chapter 


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Forum Administrators
16 minutes ago, magma said:

Is it ok for the youth? I'm assuming you've read it. 

Apart from the theme, I don't remember it being graphic. 

It's about Madam Bovary's adultery.

But we can't criticise her, because we haven't walked in her shoes.


Edited by Haji 2003
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member


I think there is nothing in Madame Bovary that might offend a modern reader familiar with graphic depictions found in novels published today. But considering the time and place of its publication, it was a sensation and got banned. The French did not like a married female character drawn from respectable bourgeois background to be portrayed as leading an objectionable lifestyle.

There are three or four scenes of her assignation with her various lovers but the emphasis is on the comic situations caused by the falsehood of romance and the insincerity of trysts. There is also a very subtle hint, so subtle that many readers miss it, of what we'd today call a sexual orgy, the final desperate act of Madame Bovary to find happiness. 

The novel is bigger than its theme. On a deeper level it's an allegory of unquenchable human avarice and the futility of finding satisfactory answers to the dilemmas of life. Reactions to Emma Bovary, the character, tend to be on the extreme, either extreme sympathy (for having been stuck in a life situation that stunts her intellectual and emotional development, leaving her alone and miserable in a hypocritical milieu that finally compels her to embark on a path of selfishness) or extreme antipathy (for having chosen the path of infidelity despite the fact that Charles Bovary was an ideal husband on paper; for making terrible choices one after the other that would lead to the ruin not only of her but of her daughter and husband too).

Flaubert was too intelligent to lend writer's support to either view. In my reading, he does not take a moral position for or against, which means he neither condemns Madame Bovary nor condones her. What he seems to be saying is: this is life, you have been born, now live with it. 

IMO it's a masterpiece of French/European literature and should be read with an open mind. To invoke its theme and the various morals readers like to derive out of it is to reduce it to bare bones from which the flesh and the blood has been stripped away.

Edited by Marbles
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Veteran Member

What i knew about this novel, the original work was very eloquent and aesthetical for it is filled with grandeur of french dictions. Is it true?

Too bad i havent had the chance to read it in english. I'd rather read in French though, but dont understand french. :p

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...