Friday, March 27, 2009

"To Make Bears Dance"

The art of Flaubert in Madame Bovary.
Sometimes we find a novel that uses images in a brilliant and beautiful way, but the poetry of these images almost runs like a counter plot to the book--that is, they run parallel with the story but are not part of it. In Madame Bovary, it is the images that raise the pathetic story of Madame Bovary to the level of art that is concerned with profound matters. His precise and poetic use of language serves to bring out the truth of the psychological moment, to say that which is so difficult "to put into words."

1 comment:

Pentimento said...

Thank you for this post. I remember when I first read Madame Bovary; it changed my whole world. I read it several more times in English and once in French. Flaubert in a sense creates two plots: the sad - yes, pathetic is the word - story of Emma Bovary, and then the parallel narrative of the *language* with which he tells it. In some ways, the book is about language itself. The wonderful and heartrending image of how we would make music to melt the stars but instead are beating on cracked drums for bears to dance to, yes -- and there's also an unforgettable moment near the beginning when Charles first sees Emma (her parasol is open and gobs of melting snow are dropping on it). I hope you write more about it.