November 21, 2010

Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert


I had originally ordered the new Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary so that I could take part in Frances's read along but unfortunately my book did not arrive in time for me to join in. However, it did mean that I was able to take my time with the gorgeous book and even though I have read Madame Bovary before this time the reading experience was much more pleasant.

For a start (and I know this probably shouldn't matter but it so does!) the book looks divine - the cover design is perfect and suits the tone and subject matter of the book. Moving on to the content I have to say that this is my first experience of really seeing how important a translator's job is. I have previously not given much thought to what particular translation of a classic book I buy or read - I have always thought it couldn't possibly make that much of a difference. How wrong I was! Even though this was my second reading of Madame Bovary it felt like me first - this reading felt like a completely different story and approach and I was hooked!

I think the sadness and tragedy of the story struck me so much more this time - I was practically crying for Emma from the very beginning and begging her not to make certain choices. I felt so much more engaged with the story and the character of Emma in particular this time around. I felt frustrated by the social and historical period that placed women in this situation in regards to marriage and choice - although I can also see many parallels to today's society and the emphasis on marriage and partnership as the only valid life path for women.

20 comments:

aworldinthemselves said...

I bought this edition, but I haven't started it yet. It's nice to know that it's a good translation, though like you, I've never much paid attention to translators. Do you think you'll be more likely to now?

Tamara said...

I so agree with you Karen, about translators. This books has been translated many times, and I've tried at least 2 others, but Lydia seems to have captured the essence of Emma. I'm yet to finish this book, but it's not too hard to read when I get to it. It's just such a lovely book, I cant take it on the train to work... I hope we can chat sometime about the issues this books raises for women.

JoAnn said...

My reactions was almost identical to yours - what a beautiful translation this is! The gorgeous cover doesn't hurt either ;-)

ds said...

Okay, I was going to reread Madame Bovary at some point. Sounds like this is the edition to choose. Thank you.

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

"For a start (and I know this probably shouldn't matter but it so does!) the book looks divine"
oh so so true. My read of Dr Zhivago was not as pleasurable as it could have been because of the front cover!

Karen said...

Hi aworldinthemselves - I will definitely be doing my research on translators from here on in!

Hi T - This is definitely not a train book!! Looking forward to our catch up.

Hi JoAnn - it sounds like there are quite a few of us who have really enjoyed this one.

Hi ds - I certainly wouldn't call myself an expert but I think this edition was wonderful.

Hi Joan - I have seen the cover of that edition of Dr Z that a few of you are reading and I agree - it doesn't really grab you does it??

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I've been really enjoying the classics lately -- I still can't believe I haven't read Madame Bovary yet, though! Will need to pick this one up - I love a good cry.

Karen said...

Hi Coffee - I'm sure this one would deliver on crying for you!!

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