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An early passage from Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (which I just started yesterday) that describes one of the few private scenes between Charles Bovary and Emma Rouault prior to their marriage:

One day he got there about three o'clock. Everybody was in the fields. He went into the kitchen, but did not at once catch sight of Emma; the outside shutters were closed. Through the chinks of the wood the sun sent across the flooring long fine rays that were broken at the corners of the furniture and trembled along the ceiling. Some flies on the table were crawling up the glasses that had been used, and buzzing as they drowned themselves in the dregs of the cider. The daylight that came in by the chimney made velvet of the soot at the back of the fireplace, and touched with blue the cold cinders. Between the window and the hearth Emma was sewing; she wore no fichu; he could see small drops of perspiration on her bare shoulders.

After the fashion of country folks she asked him to have something to drink. He said no; she insisted, and at last laughingly offered to have a glass of liqueur with him. So she went to fetch a bottle of curacao from the cupboard, reached down two small glasses, filled one to the brim, poured scarcely anything into the other, and, after having clinked glasses, carried hers to her mouth. As it was almost empty she bent back to drink, her head thrown back, her lips pouting, her neck on the strain. She laughed at getting none of it, while with the tip of her tongue passing between her small teeth she licked drop by drop the bottom of her glass.

Rowwwwl. I recently did a literature Q&A on Facebook in which one of the questions asked if I ever had a crush on a literary character. Though I answered then that there wasn't anyone I could think of, now I'm thinking it just might be Emma Bovary.

August 12, 2009 in Books | Permalink


Oh young love. I give your crush 100 pages, tops.

Posted by: beth at Aug 12, 2009 10:10:49 AM

I'm on page 39 right now. Oh, Emma, how I'll cherish every one of the 61 pages we have left.

Posted by: Pete at Aug 13, 2009 8:51:07 AM

You might want to dip into the book Madame Bovary's Ovaries after this. It's pretty much social Darwinism and the guide for literary interpretation.

Posted by: Paul Lamb at Aug 13, 2009 10:22:15 AM

Pete, I'm just this weekend finally getting caught up with your blog again, after being away from the computer for almost a month. I'll be very interested in seeing what you think of "Madame Bovary" by the time you're finished! For what it's worth, Emma ended up reminding me WAY too much of my last girlfriend; it's easy to see why you might end up developing a crush on her. (And also for what it's worth, my last ex turned out to be quite insane, making me rather horrified by Emma by the end of it all, instead of attracted to her.)

Posted by: Jason Pettus at Aug 22, 2009 10:13:58 AM