For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shocks us today about Flaubert's devastatingly realized tale of a young woman destroyed by the reckless pursuit of her romantic dreams is its pure artistry: the poise of its narrative structure, the opulence of its prose (marvelously captured in the English translation of Francis Steegmuller), and its creation of a world whose minor figures are as vital as its doomed heroine. In reading Madame Bovary, one experiences a work that remains genuinely revolutionary almost a century and a half after its creation.
About the Author
Known for his scrupulous devotion to his art and perfectionist style, French writer Gustave Flaubert is counted among the greatest Western novelists, and influenced such writers as Franz Kafka and J. M. Coetzee. Flaubert is best known for Madame Bovary, for which he was prosecuted (and acquitted) for offending public morals. His other works of note include Memoirs of a Madman, November, Salammb?, Sentimental Education, and The Temptation of Saint Anthony. His work has been widely adapted for the stage and screen. Flaubert died in 1880.
Francis Steegmuller is the author of more than twenty books and a recipient of numerous awards and honors. His translation of Madame Bovary is an acknowledged classic. In 1982 the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded him its Gold Medal for Biography.
"Madame Bovary is like the railroad stations erected in its epoch: graceful, even floral, but cast of iron." -- John Updike