Madame Bovary Discussion

I randomly picked up Madame Bovary a couple weeks back and just read though it in a weekend. I had no idea what it was about or anything other than that it was only my classics club list. I was very surprise that I was able to get thourgh it soo fast considering its a “classic” and they have a notorious reputation for be hard and convoluted to read. Soo happy I read this book though. Possibly one of the best books of the year…and it’s still early February…. :O

If you have not read this book yet, you might want to skip this post…it will def be spoilery!


Author Gustave Flaubert
Author Gustave Flaubert
About the Author
Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. He is known especially for his debut novel Madame Bovary, his Correspondence, and his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics. The celebrated short story writer Guy de Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert. As a devoted Spinozist, Flaubert was significantly influenced by Spinoza’s thought. He was also a pantheist, like some other prominent Spinozists such as Goethe and Einstein.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
About the Book
Madame Bovary is the debut novel of French writer Gustave Flaubert, published in 1856. The character lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.

When the novel was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, public prosecutors attacked the novel for obscenity. The resulting trial in January 1857 made the story notorious. After Flaubert’s acquittal on 7 February 1857, Madame Bovary became a bestseller in April 1857 when it was published in two volumes. A seminal work of literary realism, the novel is now considered Flaubert’s masterpiece, and one of the most influential literary works in history.

Discussion Questions

#1 Flaubert was deeply hurt when his book was met with outrage, later resulting in a court trial. Why do you think this books was banned? Do you think it would have “spoiled the minds” of the readers of that time?

#2 In what ways is Emma Bovary the quintessential “desperate housewife”? How did she use escapism to deal with her emotions?

#3 Is Emma believable as a real woman, rather than only as a literary character? How well does Flaubert portray the emotions of a woman?

#4 Who’s to blame for what happened to Emma & what point could she have turned back or changed her course?

#5 Did it surprise you that a book entitled Madame Bovary actually begins and ends with others? Why do you think Flaubert makes those choices?

#6 The time between the onset of the French Revolution (1789) and WWI is often described as the era of the middle class. How is this central to the commentary of Madame Bovary?

#7 “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” (Italo Calvino) What does Madame Bovary have to say?

Did you like this discussion? Great! I can’t wait to see your responses and overall thoughts. I’m hoping to post many more discussions in the future so keep and eye on the archive if you like this kind of content. I’ve also recently published my Reading Stats from 2018 as well as my Blog Stats from 2018!

Thanks for coming by! What book would you like to see a discussion on?

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I'm an avid reader and love most all books, but my favorite genres tend to be mystery, adventure, science fiction and classics. Genres I tend to shy away from include romance, contemporary fiction and chick lit. If I’m not actually reading books, I’m probably at work shelving them at my local library.


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