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Friday, January 18, 2008

Ideology and Madame Bovary

There's much to say about the obligations of love. I suppose that Charles Bovary's response to his wife's death seems normal from our point of view, albeit its over-dramatization. I half-expected Charles to go mad much earlier than he did. It wasn't until the past started showing up when I thought about the potential of him discovering all of that which was his wife's past. It all started simply, with Charles discovering the letter from Rodolphe simply stating that he didn't want to become a source of grief for her (slick bastard). Charles discards it as platonic and self-indulgent (rather misplaced) juvenelia. Mistake, mistake, mistake. Leon's resurgence in the story begins with a wedding announcement; he married a woman from a well to do family. Later, however, Charles discovers all of Leon's letters and immediately loses that mythology that he had ascribed to his wife when she died. He goes literally mad, as Homais explains. I loved the passage that has Charles "thunder[ing] against the spirit of the age, and [he] never failed, every other week... to recount the death agony of Voltaire, who died devouring his excrements..." This reminded me of a very old quote (credited to Mozart, although I doubt it) in which a son tells his father: "Voltaire, that godless pig, has died, and, since his death, has written no more poetry." The encounter between Charles and Rodolphe (after Charles also discovers more explicit letters from Rodolphe) is priceless--in today's society, it would have ended with a homicide.

I wasn't surprised to see Lheureux, the creditor, make a comeback in the story. Of course it is to be expected; the equivalent of credit card collectors calling at all hours harrassing those who owe money. The day of the funeral, both Rodolphe and Leon are sleeping peacefully, etc. Of course Charles would go crazy--anyone else, for that matter.

I haven't read the five page afterword because I want to digest the plot and finish "fleshing out" Charles Bovary with whom I find a literary attraction like no other character in the novel. Homais can go suck on an egg--that pompous ass ends up being the only one who wins in the story. The last line of the novel crashes through the page... especially if you don't like Homais.

These weeks have found me under the pressure of much work, so I am far behind on my reading list. I hate beginning the year behind on my reading list. At this point--January 18th--I have just finished my first book when I should have been on my third. And people say to me, "don't rush it," or "why does it have to be on a schedule?" I simply say that I have an agenda this year; an agenda which includes publishing a book. I have not a day to waste when it comes to my reading. I enjoyed Madame Bovary tremendously, and I am looking up to the next book with much hunger. I love the reading life.

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At 1:02 PM, Blogger Chris said...

It's been a while since I read it, but Emma's death really sticks with me. She who loved fashion and her looks ending the way she did. It was just awful.

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Stefanie said...

I felt so sorry for Charles. I know the tragedy is supposed to belong to Emma, but he was the character that brought out the most feeling in me.

At 2:45 AM, Blogger Diana said...

I'm speachless. Your blog is just amazing. You can be sure I will be here frequently.


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