|Not dreaming of Flaubert, 1985|
I read him in college -- in French -- as part of my notorious double major in English and French literature. I can't say I cared much for him then, but I recently finished the Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary, and had a sort of delayed reaction. I was, in short, blown away. I don't feel like being a literary critic here, though. I'm going to face it and state that literary criticism is beyond me. I was in a book group once in New York City with five other people, all men. We were always reading books like Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, and di Lampedusa's The Leopard. Aside from that scene in Pynchon with urine and a glass-topped coffee table, I don't remember much about those books or even what those men had to say about them. I remember thinking meekly at the time that the point of reading was to sustain oneself, and listening to these men, all brilliant, expound -- well -- I wanted to scream, DID YOU LIKE IT OR NOT?
So, I liked the Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary, and that might have to do with the fact that I really, really like Lydia Davis' short stories and was aware of them and her unique style even while reading a nineteenth century French classic, or it might have to do with the fact that I was reading it in English as opposed to French (so very, very difficult) or it might have to do with the fact that I'm much, much older and can better appreciate what the hell the story is about.
Or I can just say, I LIKE IT!
It was Gustave's birthday yesterday, and I read a couple of quotes attributed to him that I loved. Here they are:
Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.and this one:
To be stupid, selfish and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.