I set a goal to read “classics” through 2011; many of which I had read in school, but wanted to reconnect from the perspective of having become a published author. I am still reeling a bit over the recent rediscovery of Madame Bovary! For those of you who have not taken the liberty to go through this 1856 masterpiece by Gustave Flaubert, it might interest you to know a bit about his writing style.
Gustave Flaubert was known to be a perfectionist about his writing, always searching for just the right word. I found myself, however, stumbling over those words throughout the entire book. I was almost lost in connecting with his desired delivery because the sentences were too long, the phrases too… much! I don’t know whether my years of training to be succinct in delivering a written message has tainted my love of more flowery descriptive phrases, or if indeed Flaubert does take a simple, almost archetypal, plot and works overtime to reveal his artistic style in extensive details and hidden patterns.
Having spent the past thirty plus years studying personal development and social consciousness, I had quite a difficult time connecting with Madame Bovary, a doctor’s wife who, attempting to escape from unmet needs and expectations within her marriage has multiple adulterous affairs and puts her family into financial ruin by living above her means. I find it difficult to embrace that the novel is unchallenged as a work of realism and as one of the most influential novels to be penned. Perhaps the notoriety over the book being taken to trial in 1857 because of the “obscenity” in the story gave it more acclaim than deserved as a true work of published art.
But then, again, it might be entirely my reaction to this selfish, self-serving woman that leads me to disagree with the multitudes who still claim Madame Bovary is one of the greatest novels ever written, purportedly second only to Anna Karenina!
I would love to hear YOUR thoughts…
Voices in Print…