Synopses & Reviews
The notorious and celebrated novel that established modern realism
For this novel of French bourgeois life in all its inglorious banality, Flaubert invented a paradoxically original and wholly modern style. His heroine, Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a desperate love affair. A succès de scandale in its day, Madame Bovary remains a powerful and scintillating novel.
This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes and an introduction by Geoffrey Wall. It includes a preface by Michele Roberts.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
"As for the intimate, deeper center of the book, there is no doubt that it resides in the adulterous woman; she alone possesses all the attributes of a worthy hero, albeit in the guise of a disgraced victim." Charles Baudelaire, L'artiste
"A masterpiece" Julian Barnes
"What is remarkable in Madame Bovary is that its mediocre beings, with their earthbound ambitions and pedestrian problems, impress us, by virtue of the structure and the writing that create them, as beings who are out of the ordinary within their ordinary manner of being." Mario Vargas Llosa, in The Perpetual Orgy
"A supremely beautiful novel" Michèle Roberts
"Madame Bovary is first and foremost a book, a carefully composed book, amply premeditated and totally coherent, in which nothing is left to chance and in which the author or, better, the painter does exactly what he intends to do from beginning to end." Charles Augustin Saint-Beuve, Causeries du Lundi
"Its beauty is enchanting and terrible. It shows us implacably the limitations of our habitation in our bodies, in space and time. Emma Bovary is indeed 'really too small' but there is a sense in which she is a type of everywoman. Flaubert's relentless and fastidious observation and creation of his small world is itself a form of contemplation." AS Byatt, Guardian
"Madame Bovary is like the railroad stations erected in its epoch: graceful, even floral, but cast of iron." John Updike
This exquisite novel tells the story of one of the most compelling heroines in modern literatureEmma Bovary. Unhappily married to a devoted, clumsy provincial doctor, Emma revolts against the ordinariness of her life by pursuing voluptuous dreams of ecstasy and love.
Flaubert's masterpiece a landmark in European literature
For this novel of French bourgeois life in all its inglorious banality, Flaubert invented a paradoxically original and wholly modern style. His heroine, Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a desperate love affair. A succès de scandale in its day, Madame Bovary remains a powerful and arousing novel.
This text is an updated edition of Flaubert's classic tale. Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent reader of sentimental novels, she longs for passion.
About the Author
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), the younger son of a provincial doctor, briefly studied law before devoting himself to writing, with limited success during his lifetime. After the publication of Madame Bovary in 1857, he was prosecuted for offending public morals.