Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gustave Flaubert

[The priest] dipped his right thumb in the oil, and began the unctions: first on the eyes, which had so coveted all earthly splendors; then on the nostrils, so greedy for mild breezes and the smells of love; then on the mouth, which had opened to utter lies, which had moaned with pride and cried out in lust; then on the hands, which had so delighted in the touch of smooth material; and lastly on the soles of the feet, which had once been so quick when she hastened to satiate her desires and which now would never walk again.
What killed Emma Bovary?  

The proximate cause of her death was the arsenic she swallowed.  But the ultimate cause was her desperate longing for romance.

Emma's unsuccessful quest for love resulted not only in her death, but also in the ruin of her poor, clueless husband and her innocent daughter.  

Ford Madox Ford's 1915 novel, The Good Soldier, opens with this sentence: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard."  The Good Soldier is a heartbreaking book, but Madame Bovary is the saddest story I have ever read. 

Emma Bovary's deathbed

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