The first time I read this it was 33 degrees celsius outside, full summer, and I sat reading in front of our tent, at a campsite in France. The location might have been more fitting, but the season surely wasn’t. Autumn, with its orange & yellow colours and its melancholy feel must be the perfect season to read Madame Bovary.
This time, my second time reading the book, I was surprised by the many things I had forgotten about it. The first 58 pages tell so much, and I had remembered so little about them. Being introduced to the boy Bovary, the new boy, almost made me feel sympathetic to him. And the fact that Madame Bovary is not just the one that takes centre stage later on in the novel, but is first the mother and then the first wife of Charles, had completely slipped my mind. I did remember the despair I felt when the wedding of Charles and Emma was agreed on, that was no different this time.
Is Madame Bovary above all a description of the vulgarity of life? The wedding, the lies? If anything, Flaubert seems to describe it almost ruthlessly. I had not considered his style before, being too busy to figure out the plot the first time around. I might not want to make any guesses now, since I am saving the introduction for later.
For more thoughts on the first part of this new translation by Lydia Davis, see Frances’ blog Nonsuch Book for the other participants in this read along.