So this year, I decided to make my way through some classics that I’ve never read. I started with two works, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, and Elmer Gantry by Uptain Sinclair. Here is my take on Flaubert’s work.
I would say that this novel is a pile of Freudian claptrap, but it was published two or three years before Sigmund was born. So, I will just have to say it is a study of a 19th Century woman with borderline personality disorder. Everything about Emma Bovary makes this reader hate her. She choses to marry Charles Bovary because he can get her from her rural life, but then almost immediately wants more and causes herself “nervous” conditions to get more. It is a sad tale not for the titular character, but for Charles and their daughter. They are innocent victims of Emma’s raging psychological issues and attention seeking behaviors. One could argue that perhaps Emma had bipolar disorder, but she really never seemed to fit into a full-blown mania or, to me, even a hypomanic episode. She was manipulative and again attention seeking to the point of falling into hysterical nervous issues.
I suppose the power of this novel is watered down by more than a century of similar stories in books, television, and movies. The impact is just not there for me. Although I can see the classic nature of this novel. At time of publication, it was scandalous for its discussion of extra marital affairs. Again time has not fared well for it.
I also found the head hopping (going from one POV to another without a scene change) to be very distracting. At times, I lost whose POV I was in. This is something that has fallen from favor over the years as well, but was common back the time of publication so I can overlook that.
It was worthwhile reading this novel. I wouldn’t read it again though. If you like overly dramatic characters and stilted dialog, then Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is for you. I’m still working Elmer Gantry.
So in the tradition of when I read the complete recognized Shakespearean plays. Here’s the running tab.
2014 Classics read:
1. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert.