I Wanna Be Literated #245

I Wanna Be Literated #245

Sunday, 26 December 2021

Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert

The bad thing about reading almost exclusively non-fiction is that, obviously, I purposely miss out on the great fiction out there. And the bad thing about missing out on fiction is that I miss out on some of the great classics. But, luckily I listen to the Best Show, and while discussing Tom Scharpling’s new book It Never Ends, the topic somehow switched to Gustave Flaubert. Intrigued, I checked it out, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

I won’t go into a book or author that has been been discussed to death. Smarter and more eloquent writers have flogged this dead horse already, so I’ll just focus on my impression as a causal reader and all around literary dum-dum.

What struck me the most about Madame Bovary is just how little dialogue Flaubert uses and how easy this book is to read. The pacing sucks you in almost immediately. This particular edition has an introduction discussing just what the author was up against and how he developed a new style of sorts. It really helps put the book into perspective. Madame Bovary uses description of events and its characters to pace the story forward. Switching off main subjects suddenly at the beginning makes the reader wonder just who the Madame Bovary is that the book will focus on. Once it becomes clear, you’re able to settle in and see the story unfold. Madame Bovary is truly a tragic character who’s unhappiness and impulses slowly ruins everyone around her and plunges her into insanity. You can sense the doom and can’t help while this trainwreck happens. You also root for the main character a bit hoping that she’s able to find some happiness in her life to focus and get her shit together. It’s quite sad seeing someone who’s better off than most try to fill the endless pit they have inside, using everyone and everything, and slowly become undone in the process. It’s engaging and compelling.

So yeah, I’m more than 100 years late to the party but my first venture into Flaubert was incredibly pleasant. I highly recommend this book… as soon as you finish Scharpling’s memoir.

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