Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gustave Flaubert

  "Oh! It's just that I love you!" she would go on; "I love you so much I can't do without you . . . ."
     He had heard these things said to him so often that for him there was nothing original about them. . . . Because licentious or venal lips had murmured the same words to him, he had little faith in their truthfulness; one had to discount, he thought, exaggerated speeches that concealed mediocre affections; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in the emptiest of metaphors, since none of us can ever express the exact measure of our needs, or our ideas, or our sorrows, and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when we long to move the stars to pity.
(From Lydia Davis's 2010 translation of Madame Bovary.)

Emma Bovary was a romantic, a woman who was "gasping for love like a carp on a kitchen table gasping for water."  But her creator, Gustave Flaubert, was a realist -- an author who was determined to be objective about his characters.  Poor Emma never had a chance.

Isabelle Huppert as Emma Bovary 

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