Synopses & Reviews
From A to Z, the Penguin Drop Caps series collects 26 unique hardcovers — featuring cover art by type superstar Jessica Hische
It all begins with a letter. Fall in love with Penguin Drop Caps, a new series of twenty-six collectible and gift-worthy hardcover editions, each with a type cover showcasing a gorgeously illustrated letter of the alphabet by superstar type designer Jessica Hische, whose work has appeared everywhere from Tiffany & Co. to Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom to Penguin's own bestsellers Committed and Rules of Civility. A collaboration between Jessica Hische and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley, the series design encompasses foil-stamped paper-over-board cases in a rainbow-hued spectrum across all twenty-six book spines and a decorative stain on all three paper edges. Penguin Drop Caps debuts with an “A” for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a “B” for Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and a “C” for Willa Cather’s My Ántonia, and continues with more classics from Penguin.
F is for Flaubert. Emma Bovary is the original desperate housewife. Beautiful but bored, she is married to the provincial doctor Charles Bovary yet harbors dreams of an elegant and passionate life. Escaping into sentimental novels, she finds her fantasies dashed by the tedium of her days. Motherhood proves to be a burden; religion is only a brief distraction. In an effort to make her life everything she believes it should be, she spends lavishly on clothes and on her home and embarks on two disappointing affairs. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, Emma takes drastic action with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter. When published in 1857, Madame Bovary was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for its heroine. Today the novel is considered the first masterpiece of realist fiction. In this landmark translation of Flaubert’s masterwork, Lydia Davis honors the nuances and particulars of a style that has long beguiled readers of French, giving new life in English to the book that redefined the novel as an art form.
"[Flaubert's] masterwork has been given the English translation it deserves." Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] brilliant new translation." Lee Siegel, The New York Observer
"[Davis] has a finer ear for the natural cadences of English, in narrative and dialogue, than any of her predecessors, and there are many moments in her Madame Bovary when one pauses to admire how clean and spare a sentence seems by comparison with its earlier translated versions....Only a very good writer indeed could have written it....The bones of the original French show clearly through her English, and the rawness of her translation is, on the whole, invigorating." Jonathan Raban, The New York Review of Books
"How tickled Madame Bovary herself would be by the latest homage paid to her....I'm grateful to Davis for luring me back to Madame Bovary and for giving us a version which strikes me as elegant and alive." Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
"Flaubert's obsessive masterpiece finally gets the obsessive translation it deserves." New York
A literary event: one of the most celebrated novels ever written, in a magnificent new translation.
Seven years ago, the incomparable Lydia Davis brought us an award-winning, rapturously reviewed new translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way that was hailed as "clear and true to the music of the original" (Los Angeles Times) and "a work of creation in its own right" (Claire Messud, Newsday). Now she turns her gifts to the book that defined the novel as an art form.
When Emma Rouault marries dull, provincial doctor Charles Bovary, her dreams of an elegant and passionate life crumble. She escapes into sentimental novels but finds her fantasies dashed by the tedium of her days. Motherhood proves to be a burden; religion is only a brief distraction. She spends lavishly and embarks on a series of disappointing affairs. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, Emma takes drastic action with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter. When published in 1857, Madame Bovary was embraced by bourgeois women who claimed it spoke to the frustrations of their lives. Davis's landmark translation gives new life in English to Flaubert's masterwork.
About the Author
Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a prominent physician. A solitary child, he was attracted to literature at an early age, and after his recovery from a nervous breakdown suffered while a law student, he turned his total energies to writing. Aside from journeys to the Near East, Greece, Italy, and North Africa, and a stormy liaison with the poetess Louise Colet, his life was dedicated to the practice of his art. The form of his work was marked by intense aesthetic scrupulousness and passionate pursuit of le mot juste; its content alternately reflected scorn for French bourgeois society and a romantic taste for exotic historical subject matter. The success of Madame Bovary
(1857) was ensured by government prosecution for “immorality”; Salammbô
(1862) and The Sentimental Education
(1869) received a cool public reception; not until the publication of Three Tales
(1877) was his genius popularly acknowledged. Among fellow writers, however, his reputation was supreme. His circle of friends included Turgenev and the Goncourt brothers, while the young Guy de Maupassant underwent an arduous literary apprenticeship under his direction. Increasing personal isolation and financial insecurity troubled his last years. His final bitterness and disillusion were vividly evidenced in the savagely satiric Bouvard and Pécuchet, left unfinished at his death in 1880.
Lydia Davis has been a MacArthur Fellow, National Book Award finalist, and Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She was awarded the 2003 French-American Foundation Translation Prize for her translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way and lives near Albany, New York.
Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator, typographer, and web designer. She currently serves on the Type Directors Club board of directors, has been named a Forbes Magazine "30 under 30" in art and design as well as an ADC Young Gun and one of Print Magazine's "New Visual Artists". She has designed for Wes Anderson, McSweeney's, Tiffany & Co, Penguin Books and many others. She resides primarily in San Francisco, occasionally in Brooklyn.