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Madame Bovary

Critique • Quotes

Madame Bovary first edition coverFirst edition
By Gustave Flaubert
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First publication

Literary form


Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 130,000 words

Notable lines

We were in study-hall when the headmaster entered, followed by a new boy not yet in school uniform and by the handyman carrying a large desk.

— First line

There isn't a bourgeois alive who in the ferment of youth, if only for a day or for a minute, hasn't thought himself capable of boundless passions and noble exploits. The sorriest little woman-chaser has dreamed of Oriental queens; in a corner of every notary's heart lie the moldy remains of a poet.


In her longing she made no difference between the pleasures of luxury and the joys of the heart, between elegant living and sensitive feeling.


...for none of us can ever express the exact human measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.

— Last line


Critique • Quotes

See also:


Les Misérables

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Madame Bovary

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