There's a read-along that just started, reading the just-released edition of Madame Bovary, as translated by Lydia Davis. The novel itself has three parts, so the read-along is structured that way. Given that part 1 has only 58 pages, there's still plenty of time to join in.
I read Madame Bovary when I was in my mid-20's, and remember liking it quite a bit. Sadly, I don't seem to have my earlier copy anymore; it would be fun to compare some of the passages to see how different the translations are.
Part 1 is very short, and basically sets up the premise of Monsieur Bovary as a not terribly bright, not at all ambitious, small-town doctor who harridan of a wife conveniently dies after he meets the lovely Emma at her father's farm. Emma, who has some fairly romantic ideas about what love and marriage should be like, is more than amenable to the idea of marrying a doctor, but she quickly becomes disillusioned with her small-town life and the boringness of her husband. He, however, doesn't recognize that, but adores her for every little thing she does. Emma's misery is compounded by a rare invitation to a chateau for an extravagant dinner and dance, which only serves to torment Emma with everything she doesn't and probably can't have.
I don't know how much Davis's translation differs from others, but so far, it's beautiful, but also a bit deadly, in that Flaubert is describing the beauty that Emma perceives while letting his readers know he thinks it's, to use a contemporary phrase, over the top:
"As she went in, Emma felt enveloped in warm air, a mingling of the scents of the flowers and fine linen, the savor of the meats and the smell of the truffles. The candles in the candelabras cast long flames over the silver dish covers; the facets of the crystal glasses, covered in a dull mist, reflected a pale glimmer from one to the other; clusters of flowers stood in a line down the whole length of the table; and on the broad-rimmed plates, napkins folded in the shape of bishops' mitres each held, in the opening between its two folds, a small oval roll. The red claws of the lobsters overhung the edges of the platters; large fruits were piled on moss in openwork baskets; the quails wore their feathers; coils of steam rose into the air; and, grave as a judge in his silk stockings, knee breeches, white tie, and jabot, the butler conveyed the platters, already carved, between the shoulders of the guests and with a flick of his spoon would cause the piece one had chosen to leap forth. On the tall porcelain stove with its copper bands, a statue of a woman draped to the chin stared motionless at the room full of people."
So. Not far in, but I'm anxious to keep reading.
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