Download Importing Madame Bovary:The Politics of Adultery by Elizabeth Amann (auth.) PDF

By Elizabeth Amann (auth.)

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Extra info for Importing Madame Bovary:The Politics of Adultery

Sample text

What attracts Luísa to Dumas’s novel is its milieu, the luxury and voluptuousness of the courtesan’s world. EXHUMING MARGUERITE GAUTIER 27 Her impressions are lyrical: she admires “that whole destiny” with its “dinners, delirious nights, money troubles and days of melancholy in the back of a coupé, when the first snows fall silently over the avenues of the Bois, under a dark and elegant sky” (8). The “vie fièvreuse” (99; feverish life) of the courtesan is filtered through a lens of ennui, through the eyes of the bored bourgeois adulteress.

To distance Luísa from her reading, Eça revises Flaubert’s treatment of the heroine’s quixotism. Emma’s reading is always anticipatory: her novels reveal the exciting adventures she hopes to have. In much of Madame Bovary, the heroine is waiting for an event: “Deep down, all the while, she was waiting for something to happen . . Other people’s lives, drab though they might be, held at least the possibility of an event. One unexpected happening often set in motion a whole chain of change” (72–73).

The alternative, however, disturbingly resembles her prosaic husband. She has attempted to enter Dumas’s novel, to penetrate the textual divide between the reader and the fictional world, but what she encounters is layer upon layer of textuality that separates her from the origin of her fantasy: Basílio repeats the husband repeating Gounod repeating Goethe. For Luísa, the plot of 1848 is not a novelty but a repetition of a repetition. The order of the arias reinforces this decontextualization. What is in Faust the prelude to seduction here follows the erotic conquest, for Basílio sings the love song after the fact.

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