Synopses & Reviews
A new translation by Adam Thorpe
Gustave Flaubert once said of his heroine, “Emma Bovary, c’est moi.” In this acclaimed new translation, Adam Thorpe brings readers closer than ever before to Flaubert’s peerless text and, by extension, the author himself.
Emma, a passionate dreamer raised in the French countryside, is ready for her life to take off when she marries the decent, dull Dr. Charles Bovary. Marriage, however, fails to live up to her expectations, which are fueled by sentimental novels, and she turns disastrously to love affairs. The story of Emma’s adultery scandalized France when Madame Bovary was first published. Today, the heartbreaking story of Emma’s financial ruin remains just as compelling. Translator Adam Thorpe, an accomplished author in his own right, pays careful attention to the “complex music” of Flaubert’s language, with its elegant, finely wrought sentences and closely observed detail. This exquisite Modern Library edition is sure to set a new standard for an enduring classic.
Praise for Adam Thorpe’s translation of Madame Bovary
“What leaves me reeling with each rereading (and Adam Thorpe’s new translation is, pardon the pun, to die for) is the use of language. There can be no doubt as to the reason for Flaubert’s brain popping at the top of the stairs when he was fifty-eight. He broke it scouring for perfect sentences, words, le mot juste.”—Russell Kane, The Independent
“Flaubert described his great work as a poem, so it is fitting that a poet and novelist of Thorpe’s stature should turn his hand to it.”—Robin Robertson, The Herald (Scotland)
For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shocks us today about Flaubert's devastatingly realized tale of a young woman destroyed by the reckless pursuit of her romantic dreams is its pure artistry: the poise of its narrative structure, the opulence of its prose (marvelously captured in the English translation of Francis Steegmuller), and its creation of a world whose minor figures are as vital as its doomed heroine. In reading Madame Bovary, one experiences a work that remains genuinely revolutionary almost a century and a half after its creation.
About the Author
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.