by Gustave Flaubert
A few days ago I was looking through my shelves for unwanted books in too poor condition to swap to drop at the Book Thing next week, when I noticed a tattered copy of Madame Bovary sitting among the TBR clutter. It came from the same box at my mother's house that coughed up The Gulag Archipalego. I picked it up and thought: I really ought to read this. It's a classic.
So I tried. I made it through 120 pages about a pretty young wife who finds herself married to a country doctor. He's quite content with life, she's bored silly. He loves her very much, she finds him dull and repugnant. She longs to experience romance and emotional thrills. For a while she resists her feelings, because of society's strict moral code; then gives in and has several secret affairs.
One night when my husband couldn't sleep I said "let me tell you what I'm reading" and began to relate the story to him. He was snoring within minutes. Yesterday I made another attempt to read a dozen more pages, and found my attention seriously wandering. So I skimmed through the rest, of Emma Bovary's second affair, her husband's failure, her ultimate tragic end. (Reminded me very much of Anna Karenina, which I read in high school). Maybe it was a poor translation (Lowell Bair)? maybe the subject just isn't shocking to modern readers anymore? I know this is great literature, meticulously constructed by the author, full of symbolism, details and profound portrayals of human nature. But I just couldn't sympathize with or like any of the characters, and I got bored. I seem to be in the minority here, so if you want to read great reviews about this book, check out A Guy's Moleskine Notebook or A Reader's Journal. They give Madame Bovary its due, where I cannot.
Abandoned ...0/5... 303 pages, 1857
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Books 'n Border Collies