Monday, July 14, 2014

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary


Since high school, Madame Bovary has been a continued source of admiration; not for the story itself─a sordid story of adultery in stagnant French provincial life─but for the author’s technical effort.

Flaubert was a daring experimenter.

Being a perfectionist in his use of language, Flaubert wasn’t happy until he presented us with a panoply of literary techniques. Similes, Zeugmas, quoted monologues, interior monologues, indirect free speech, and so forth.

But what is most fascinating to me is his invention of the literary collage. The scene of the agricultural show broke new ground and became the pattern for other novelists to pick up and perfect. Herman Broch, Virgnia Woolf, and Vargas Llosa, come to mind.

In this famous scene the reader is treated to a narration--a quartet of harmonic oscillation and titillation--in four voices─violin, viola, cello, and base: Rodolphe and Emma; the councilor; Homais; and the hum of the multitude.

Enchanted by the technique, I would pay less attention to the plot and the characters. But the creative genius he was, Flaubert prods the readers to immerse themselves in the characters and “to see” them and listen to them. In the end, we come away with a clear picture of Charles and Emma, Homais, Leon, Rodolphe, Justin, and others.

Who can forget such a languid and charistmatic adulterer? “She (Emma) corrupted him (Charles Bovary) beyond the grave."

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

Toolbox for Writers.



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers


Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
Image via Wikipedia
Lindsey Vonn



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