Monday, 2 November 2009

Reading Madame Bovary on Oct 30, 2009

Timeless Madame Bovary, deathless Emma, provoked such passionate debate among seven literature lovers in Kochi that Flaubert must have rejoiced from wherever he is. On the central question of the author's attitude to the heroine, no answer will come from the grave. Readers have to work it out for themselves.

Joe, Thommo, Bobby, Indira, Talitha, KumKum, and Amita

Many questions thrown up by the novel were discussed: provincial mores, anti-clericalism, mil-dil relations, romanticism, realism, precision in description, idiotic constancy in love, the arts of seduction, shopaholism, censorship, rebellion, splicing of scenes, reading books, and so on. The debates will continue, but the enjoyment of the writing has not ceased in a hundred and fifty years.

The translation by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (the daughter of Karl Marx) was used by all the readers, except Indira, who favoured Margaret Mauldon's translation. It is inordinately difficult to translate Flaubert's novel, if we consider the prodigious effort he spent to get the language exactly right in the original French. Nabokov offered a thousand emendations to the publisher, when he taught the novel in his course on European literature at Cornell in the fifties.

The next reading will be on Tuesday Nov 24, 2009 at the customary venue and time, 5-30pm, DC Books, Chittoor Road. The entire play, The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde will be read by KRG readers; the casting was decided at this session.

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