Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Story - Madam Bovary

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I'm in a classics book group and our read this past month was Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I was kind of looking forward to this because I'd never read it but knew it was quite risque for the times.

Anyway, I had to look up about the risque-ness because I thought I might have had the wrong book! LOL. But no, it was right. This from Wikipedia: "When it was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, the novel was attacked for obscenity by public prosecutors. The resulting trial, held in January 1857, made the story notorious. After Flaubert's acquittal on 7 February 1857, Madame Bovary became a bestseller when it was published as a single volume in April 1857. The novel is now considered Flaubert's masterpiece, as well as a seminal work of realism and one of the most influential novels ever written."

So...what I learned...holy hell we've become explicit with our risque novels! When Madam Bovary has an affair, I read 3 or 4 pages before I could work out if they'd actually had sex or not. This was what I should have taken as sex - "she gave herself up to him -". In another instance, I was sure they had sex, but the only indication was the list of towns that the carriage drove through with randoms shouts from inside urging the carriage driver to keep going.

I think the risqueness of the novel stemmed from the fact that Madam Bovary was an unhappy wife with a doting husband. This is what she thought of him, "But this one taught nothing, knew nothing, wished nothing. He thought her happy; and she resented this easy calm, this serene heaviness, the very happiness she gave him." When she took a lover, initially she had great happiness - "She repeated, "I have a lover! a lover!" delighting at the idea as if a second puberty had come to her." - but it didn't last, she seemed incapable of love - even of her child.

It was an interesting read to see how far risque novels have come. Although there is a rather cyclical nature to erotic fiction. In the late 1780s the Marquis deSade was writing his rather explicit stories of sex and debauchery, which ended up with him imprisoned, so within eighty years, Fluabert was in a similar predicament (a court case, but not gaol) for writing about a woman incapable of love who took lovers, yet with none of the explicit sex we saw with deSade.

I'm glad I have the freedom to write explicitly. I glad I can describe body parts and actions without censorship. Love and sex is frightening to some. I'm thankful to those authors who fought so that we today have the freedom to write what we wish.

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