Saturday, July 26, 2008

50 Greatest Books and other stuff

This is my 400th post since I started posting in March last year.
Also today is the one year anniversary of my surgery. (See yesterdays post).
And lastly here is the Greatest Book for this week.

Madame Bovary, c'est tout le monde

Madame Bovary had no precursors, was radically original. In a letter Flaubert sent to his mistress, Louise Colet, in 1852, while writing the novel, he said, "What I would like to write is a book about nothing, a book without exterior attachments, which would be held together by the inner force of its style ..."

One aspect of that style was an acute attention to detail. The fulsome descriptions of food and clothing at the Bovary wedding, or the hotel room in Rouen where her trysts with Léon take place, reflect to perfection prevalent bourgeois obsessions. It is a novel constructed of details, as if the thrust of the story were an avalanche of objects gaining speed as they rumbled downhill to the dénouement, and that somehow they were pulling the characters along with them.

At the same time, every detail fits, each adds to the whole, nothing is wasted. The inevitability of the plot resonates with the inevitability of the words chosen. The novel feels like a world built up out of atomic particles, following an ineluctable yet mysterious order.

[read the link fast or you will have to subscribe to the online newspaper to read it]

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