bookspluslife

November 6, 2016

Book: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:46 pm

imageFlaubert is said to have modelled the heroine on one Delphine Delamare, but was unable to say so due to the social mores of the time. He said that “Madame Bovary is me” which convinced nobody. The infamy followed the men whereby the man whom Rodolphe portrayed emigrated to US and returned years later. As scandal still followed him, he committed suicide in France!

 

And the story was considered so raunchy for those times that there was a movement demanding that this book be forbidden in France. So what is in that book that caused all this hullaballoo?

 

Charles Bovary is a dull student from a fairly well to do family. His mother somehow makes him a physician, against the wishes of Charles himself, as he was a dull student and could not get in through merit only. On top of that, she gets him married to an unattractive, older but a very wealthy woman, whom Monsieur Bovary does not love. She becomes a shrew, disillusioned with him.

 

He goes to take care of the broken bones of a wealthy farmer Monsieur Rouault and falls in love with his daughter Emma. When his wife dies, he marries Emma. He is besotted with Emma but Emma gets bored easily. She wanted to be a nun and then backed out. She does not feel the romantic dreams with a country doctor. The highlight is when they are invited for dinner by Marquis d’Andervilliers. Emma is, of course, the Madame Bovary of the title.

 

She longs for the rich life and hates her husband, fires his most trusted housekeeper over a trivial error and behaves abominably to him who worships her every footstep. They move to another town to help her, against the husband’s wishes and against the interests of his practice. She pines for extravagance and resents fate for denying her the share that is “owed to her”.

 

The new town offers friendship with Leon, which Emma eagerly receives. When he leaves town to go to Paris, she is devastated but a playboy called Rudolphe gets interested in her. He is bored with his current mistress, an actress and wants to conquer Emma. Makes his play at the agricultural fair where he gets her alone. He plots and slowly convinces her that he is in love when he is only after another fling.

 

When you read the book, you are struck by how the age of the book shows in the story : Rudolphe “feasted his eyes on the bit of white stockings [that Emma wore] that showed like naked flesh between the black of the [riding habit] cloth and the boot”.

 

He seduces her and she becomes brazen in seeking him out in his own house in the nights. She almost got caught by Binet, who was out hunting ducks, when she returned from one such visit.

 

His object acquired, Rudolphe begins to lose his passion and ardour for her, which stings her. After her husband bungles a clubfoot operation necessitating another surgeon to come and amputate the leg of the unfortunate Hippolyte, her contempt of her husband and ardour for Rudolph overflow and she forces Rudolphe  to plan an escape with her – to run away. He is in it only for fun and runs away one day earlier, leaving her devastated.

 

She also is so free with her husband’s money as to nearly ruin him and steals other money from him to hide the fact. She also flaunts her affair to the extent she dares (before he runs away, of course) so much as to scandalize her mother in law and half the town she lives in.

 

After Randolphe leaves her,  she is crestfallen but goes back to Leon as an easy prey for his seduction and spends her husband’s money prodigiously again while she finds ways to meet Leon on a weekly basis. I can understand why the book may have scandalized society in the nineteenth century when it was published.

 

Finally, her wayward ways catch up with her and her debts mount, Leon grows tired of her and she tires of him as well but still is unable to stop.

 

The heroine of this story is supposed to be understood and pitied by us readers. It is very hard to sympathize with her when she has no concept of money, has an unrealistic ambition of living an aristocratic life, tramples over her husband who even gave up his mother in her support and then makes him bankrupt too, when the noose tightens around her neck (figuratively speaking), when all the loans come due and no one will help her. In desperation she takes a lot of arsenic and dies painfully.

 

It is pathetic to watch Charles devoted faithfully to her memory and still blind to her infidelities even when he is drowning in debt and even when he comes across one of Rudolphe’s letters to Emma. He alienates everyone including his mother in his stubborn devotion. There are side stories of Monsieur Homais and his journalistic crusades etc.

 

The scales fall from his eyes when he finally stumbles across all the love letters of her various lovers. He soon dies.

 

The book ends with a mock trial where the prosecuting and defence ‘attorneys’ present the case for and against – wait for it – not Emma but the book itself! Kind of cute. Overall, not a bad book, and rightly judged scandalous all those years ago for ‘preaching immorality’.

 

The only complaint about the last trial is that it is mostly a rehash of the story. I like the idea of attacking and defending the author for immorality but instead of arguments, all you get is extensive quotes and repetitions as well as a summary of the story again. That drags down the impact a lot. On top of that the self-praise on how well Flaubert has written the story jars a lot. Like reading the Taita series of Wilbur Smith or even the annoying Seventh Scroll where Wilbur Smith is praising himself as a historian.

 

The theme according to the epilog is “the education that is given to a woman which caused her misstep and corruption”. Really? Women should not be educated above their station in life? Or else they start a series of adulterous relationships?

 

I would say this deserves only a 5/10

–  – Krishna

Movie : Sully (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:29 pm

imageI think that there is no one who was not aware of the feat of Captain Chesley Sullenburger who managed, in the face of a disaster to land a plane on the Hudson and managed to sasve the lives of every one of the 155 passengers on board. This movie tells the story of that man (Sully is the nickname of the man)

 

The story when told straight will not take more than 15 minutes. How can you make a full length movie on this stuff? The people who made Sully not only show how it is done but also show a new angle which makes this movie absolutely fascinating.

When the movie opens, the incident has already taken place and the investigation into the incident is starting. Not only are they hostile but they paint a picture where Sully has not taken basic precautions and also one where, if found to have done wrong, his entire career and his impending retirement with sufficient benefits is under threat.

When “evidence” mounts against him, he and his fully loyal co-pilot Jeff Skiles are very confused and Sully keeps insisting that he did the only thing that seemed to him as feasible under the circumstances.

When the investigation claims that all evidence points to the fact that only one engine was damaged by birdstrike and that the left engine should have been intact, and when they insist that the expert opinion indicates that he should have been able to get back to La Guardia airport or the nearby Teterboro airport. The left engine was lost and could not be found for an actual verification but the flight records and the log indicate that it was working.

In addition, a simulation by similarly experienced pilots in a simulator shows that both options of a return to La Guardia and to Teterboro were possible and would have been safer seems to add a final grim nail to the evidence coffin against Sully.

In a Superhero film fashion, how things end with them is the fabulous climax of the film.

The character of Sully as a man who bears responsibility totally for people under his care comes through bright and clear. And the contract between public and media adulation and the tension, even the hostility of the investigators in a private room is extremely well told. Focusing on the investigat­ion and bringing the events of the day slowly in multiple flashback is a crowning achievement of both screenplay and direction. The movie as presented is so full of suspense that it can vie with any written plot in an imaginary story.

 

And Tom Hanks does a phenomenal job as Sully, in mental turmoil. For the man who has portrayed Apollo 13 and Castaway, living the character comes naturally and the fact that he has been able to show a completely different personality from both of those movies is a fascinating achievement and is a testament to the ability of this method actor to immerse himself into any character. A brilliant portrayal. His wife Lorraine is played by Laura Linny but she might as wellbe called a ‘brief appearance by’ since her role in this movie is tiny.

 

The end is fabulous and the most memorable line comes near the end of the movie: “Well you are trying to prove whether there was human error through this simulation. Then put real humans in this simulation!”

 

A nail biting pace, satisfying end, brilliant plot, dialogs, and screen play. A pleasure to watch.

9/10

 

  • – Krishna

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