Monday, January 16, 2012

It's MONDAY, and A Classics Challenge!

It's Monday! What are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at BookJourney.

Good morning, everyone! I hadn't intended to participate in this meme today because I figured I'd still be engrossed in Wicked. And I am still engrossed in Wicked with about 200 pages left to read, but there's also a new participant in the ring! 

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert!!!

This is my first choice for this year's A Classics Challenge hosted over at November's Autumn. It's also an opportunity for Heather and I to read some tawdry French literature together. Not that Flaubert is tawdry, but rumor has it, Madame B. is most certainly a tart. 

I have absolutely no experience with Flaubert, but I'm excited to get started. I have the e-book download onto my Kobo app on my iPhone (soon to be transferred to my Nook), so I've dipped in and out of this one a touch over the last week or so. Heather gave me the official go-ahead to jump in headlong last night, so I'm going to be reading it during lunch hours and whatnot until I finish Wicked

I haven't read a scandalous classic since, oh, probably Lady Chatterley's Lover and that was even before I had a blog. I would place it at 10 years ago or so. I couldn't remember exactly when I'd tackled LCL, so I Googled and was reminded of this little post I wrote about D.H. Lawrence's short story, "The Horse Dealer's Daughter." Equally sensuous. 

So what does that convoluted little aside have to do with Madame Bovary? Not much, except I'm looking forward to finding out EXACTLY how naughty ole Gustave is going to get. This book came about in 1856, and it's always fun to see exactly what was labeled salacious and WRONG then as opposed to our 2012 sensibilities. 

One of the things that excites me most about A Classics Challenge is that it's structured much like a blog hop. Every month Katherine posts a tri-level question participants can answer and link back to. The three levels of the prompt are based on how far into the book one has gotten. Since I'm really just starting Madame Bovary, I'm a "Level One" participant.
Who is the author? What do they look like? When were they born? Where did they live? What does their handwriting look like? What are some of the other novels they've written? What is an interesting and random fact about their life?
Flaubert seems like an interesting, somewhat dramatic character himself. He began writing as early as eight years old. He studied law but abandoned it as he didn't have much interest in it. He never married, but he did have a long affair with the poet, Louise Colet. After the affair ended, he was no longer interested in relationships and sought the platonic companionship of fellow writers such as Victor Hugo. He even lived with his mother for the rest of his life. He's also one of the few people I've ever heard of who found Paris distasteful and preferred other regions of France. Flaubert was very open about his sexual escapades; he was no stranger to prostitutes and engaged in sex with other men from time to time. 

Flaubert's style was know as "Perfectionist" as he strove to choose just the right words for his novels and was known to slave over one page for up to a week. He figuratively "bled" over his writing--it was painstaking work.  

After having read about Flaubert, I'm even more excited to delve further into the story of Madame Bovary. It promises to be one interesting undertaking!


  1. I thought Madame B was more of a bitch than a tart. Can't wait to see what you make of her!

  2. Jill, bitches and tarts! Sounds like a band name. Looking forward to meeting her!

    Thanks for stopping by, La Toya!

  3. I will have to give this book a try one of these days. I feel like I randomly saw a movie version, but that was AGES ago...

  4. I have never read Madame Bovary, but it's one that I want to read at some point! It's interesting to hear that Flaubert was a little bit of a bohemian when it comes to sex and relationships, mostly because it's not really what was expected at the time. Thanks for sharing all this with us, it was very intriguing!

  5. This is on my Humanities reading list this semester!! I read it years ago. Anxious to see if the older me likes it better!

  6. Bitches and Tarts would be a great book club name too!

    And wow, I had no idea about Flaubert. Now I am really curious about MB! Just got to chapter three and wow, a LOT has already happened!

  7. LOL, Kelly! I hadn't really thought much about it, but when Heatheroo mentioned it, I realized I had a was all a snowball from there. Looking forward to it now that I'm focused!

    Heather, I agree. I'm wondering how it's going to play out in his novel! Looking forward to it.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on it, Stephanie! Keep me posted!

    Heather, you're SO right! We should start an online book club with that name. Because I need more Heatheroo in my life since we don't do ER anymore. The only thing I don't like about my Kobo app is that it doesn't give me page numbers! ARRRGH! I'm still very near the beginning. Will polish off Wicked tomorrow probably and be hoofin' it with MB from there on.

  8. I've read the first few chapters of Madame Bovary and need to finish it in 2012 :)

  9. I will! Like I said, I read it years ago and hated it. But I read Gatsby last semester and felt totally different about it this time around.

  10. I read Madame Bovary 15 years ago for school.

    With the three day weekend, I had a chance to finish a bunch of books I've been working on the last month. Please come see what I'm reading.

  11. I second the idea about Bitches and Tarts being a fantastic book club or band name. Madame Bovary was a woman I had a hard time empathizing with - sometimes she just needs a good scolding. Flaubert's language is delicious and makes Madame Bovary's bitchiness well worth the read! Enjoy.

  12. I read this in College and remember enjoying it. Different but enjoyed it :)

  13. I have to admit, Flaubert made tawdry BORING. I detested this book, and sincerely hope you enjoy it a million times more than me. Like Jill, I'm looking forward to seeing what you make of Emma B.

  14. Good luck with it, Jillian!

    Stephanie, it's amazing what a little time will do to our impressions of books.

    Thanks for stopping in, Pussreboots!

    Thanks for the tip, Brooke! I do love an iffy character. Looking forward to getting further into the book to find out what I think of her.

    Thanks for stopping by, Brunette Librarian!

    LOL, Amanda! It happens. I hope I enjoy it more than you did, too. Sounds like this one might put me to sleep!

  15. Oh the classic challenge sounds like so much fun!! If I were actually (ahem) reading I might think of joining. Do you have the Davis translation? Have heard such wonderful things about it.

  16. I loved Madame Bovary, and it never occurred to me that Flaubert might be as interesting as his creation. I hope you enjoy Madame Bovary. :)


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