Fall 2010: Madame Bovary Gets a Makeover Thanks to Lydia Davis' New Translation

I read Madame Bovaryfor the first time in high school and have ever since loved this full-bodied, luscious, tragic tale of a woman who dared to live on her own terms in a time when such a thing was never done. I certainly don't condone infidelity or being a crazy ass b*tch, but you have to respect a woman who busts outside of whatever feminine construct is currently fashionable.

Madame Bovaryis back this fall (Sept/10) in new fancy clothes thanks to Lydia Davis' forthcoming translation. Davis is a noted translator of French literature and an author in her own right. Check out this interview with her. The new edition will get the hardcover treatment and hopefully attract a whole new group of readers. If you haven't gotten a chance to read this classic novel, do so please. You may hate Emma Bovary but you won't be bored, I swear.

From the Publisher: Seven years ago, the incomparable Lydia Davis brought us an award- winning, rapturously reviewed new translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way that was hailed as "clear and true to the music of the original" (Los Angeles Times) and "a work of creation in its own right" (Claire Messud, Newsday). Now she turns her gifts to the book that defined the novel as an art form.

When Emma Rouault marries dull, provincial doctor Charles Bovary, her dreams of an elegant and passionate life crumble. She escapes into sentimental novels but finds her fantasies dashed by the tedium of her days. Motherhood proves to be a burden; religion is only a brief distraction. She spends lavishly and embarks on a series of disappointing affairs. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, Emma takes drastic action with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter.

When published in 1857, Madame Bovary was embraced by bourgeois women who claimed it spoke to the frustrations of their lives. Davis's landmark translation gives new life in English to Flaubert's masterwork.


mynovelreviews said...

Thanks for the heads up!
I read Madame Bovary in university and although I forget details I remember liking it! I'll have to check out the new translation...

Hubert O'Hearn said...

Any idea who's putting it out in Canada? I'd love to be able to review a classic under the guise of a new translation.
Also, did you ever read that New Yorker story Woody Allen did where this sort of schleppy guy develops the ability to physically enter various novels, but that in turn alters the plot for all existing copies. There's a line that goes, "helen? Why is there an elderly Jew in the middle of Madame Bovary?" Which brought it to mind.

Great blog. I always read it.


B.Kienapple said...

Iiiit's a Penguin!
I like the idea of being able to enter novels and change them. For example, in Twilight I would exterminate Edward. But with Madame Bovary I wouldn't change a thing, it is sheer perfection all on its own.


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