Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary is a modern classic, marking the passage from romanticism to realism in French literature, and at the same time starting the tendency of realist fiction to focus on character and psychology. The main character, Emma, represents the gap between desire and fulfilment, between aspiration and reality, and also shines a light on the characteristics of French provincial society in the mid nineteenth century, and, less explicitly, on the status of women and on the expectations placed on them by society. A scandal when first published, and soon after a bestseller, Madame Bovary is still one of the most read works in European literature.
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