Great Big Travel Giveaway Prize for Today–Best Seller–See Bottom of this Post for information.
Book: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
This book may get you all hot and bothered. But not because of the over-sexed heroine. Even T.V. commercials get more blatant today. No. Flaubert will seduce you with scenery. When I go to France, Madame Emma Bovary will take me by the hand and lead me through both the stifling middle-class towns and her big city escape to Rouen.
I know that regular readers are familiar with my definition of books that inspire travel. Sometimes they are biographies, histories, or novels. So today I am going to propose that Madame Bovary makes a terrific traveler’s book if you long to go to–or just know more about–Normandy.
We covered some of this territory when Jessie Voigts talked about the excellent travel book, A Journey Into Flaubert’s Normandy. If you read that book, you will have a stop-by-stop guide to the places that scholars have deduced must have been used by Flaubert in writing his novel.
As for me, I can only say that my recent re-reading of Madame Bovary left me with a great yearning (something Madame Bovary specialized in–yearning) to see the lovely region that Flaubert describes.
On approaching the city in a coach:
Then on a sudden the town appeared. Sloping down like an amphitheatre, and drowned in the fog, it widened out beyond the bridges confusedly. Then the open country spread away with a monotonous movement till it touched in the distance the vague line of the pale sky. Seen thus from above, the whole landscape looked immovable as a picture; the anchored ships were massed in one corner, the river curved round the foot of the green hills, and the isles, oblique in shape lay on the water like large, motionless, black fishes…The leafless trees on the boulevards made violet thickets in the midst of the houses, and the roofs, all shining with the rain, threw back unequal reflections…
I want TO SEE THAT!! NOW!!
Flaubert, like all writers, agonized over finding the right words. One of his characters, trying to say the right words to the passionate Emma, speaks the writer’s woe
...no one can every give the exact measure of his needs, nor of his conceptions, nor of his sorrows; and since human speech is like a cracked tin kettle, on which we hammer out tunes to make bears dance when we long to move the stars.
It is a book well worth reading, if you love language and the writer’s art, or if you love traveling and would like to meet Flaubert’s Normandy. At the time he published it, critics were shocked at his portrayal of s-e-x. They missed the descriptions of the land and people–an aphrodisiac to the traveler.
Okay, tell the truth–have you ever been turned on by a travel book?
Great Big Literary Giveaway Prize for This Weekend: Decoding the Lost Symbol by Simon Cox, which goes through The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown puzzle by puzzle and solves them all. See my interview with Simon Cox here. Mention the book in the comments on any post or tweet the proper message (see rules here) to win this weekend drawing, which will close at midnight on Sunday, Jan. 17.