At convent school, a girl acquires romantic notions of a lover who will live for her alone. She marries a kind but dull country doctor and discovers that "This life of hers was as cold as an attic that looks north; and boredom, quiet as the spider, was spinning its web in the shadowy places of her heart." Emma Bovary's quest for escape from the emptiness of her bourgeois existence leads to infidelity and financial extravagance, and Gustave Flaubert's powerful and deeply moving examination of her moral degeneration is universally regarded as a landmark of nineteenth-century fiction.
Flaubert was brought to trial by the French government on the grounds of this novel's alleged immorality but narrowly escaped conviction. Madame Bovary remains a touchstone for literary discussions of provincial life and adultery as well as a summit of prose art, a pioneering work of realism that forever changed the way novels are written. This complete and unabridged edition features the classic translation by Eleanor Marx-Aveling.