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Madame Bovary

Why The Classic Books Still Matter Today

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We booklovers are book collectors, dedicated readers who revisit our own personal collections. Most of our bookcases are eclectic and reflect distinctive tastes and interests. Yet for many of us, among our precious books are those novels that are deemed “the classics.” Not every title that we own, of course, falls into this category, but usually it is an impressive amount. The books have their own history — perhaps some were purchased for high school assigned readings or course curriculum from our college days. Others have been recommended or received as gifts, or we have chosen them on our own out of curiosity. This section of one’s bookshelf represents our past and our present. The titles exist in their own…

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Presenting: The Real Housewives of Classic Literature!

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Everyone loves The Real Housewives! OK, to be fair, not everyone is aware of how magical the Real Housewives can be on occasion. While a lot of people find them irritating, where else are you going to find crazy moments where weird rich women debase themselves like insane animals in a menagerie for we the people to marvel at? No matter what your opinion is on The Real Housewives franchise, it’s hard to deny that they’re a bonafide cultural phenomenon. Love them or hate them, their hilarious quips, wild cat fights and generally unblinking attitude towards affluence are here to stay. So, if we were to cast a new season of Real Housewives, populated by some of the most desperate…

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Need a date (or want to stay single)? Open a book.

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Literature is rife with romantic prospects, as well as those people your mother would tell you to avoid at all costs. When you’re sitting at home, staring at your bookshelf this Valentine’s Day, consider these fictional characters who would arguably make a better (or infinitely worse) date than that one you’re either preparing (or wishing) for. There’s someone here for everyone. Let’s start with the ones in the plus column.     Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice): Everyone’s (or at least most people’s) favorite eligible Austen man, Mr. Darcy is the one you want if you’re into hate-at-first-sight that eventually blossoms into love.         Count Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula): A less obvious choice, but…

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The madame and her Frenchman

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December 12th marked the 192nd birthday of French novelist Gustave Flaubert, best known for his tale of the perpetually unhappy titular housewife, Madame Bovary (1857). Emma Bovary, the sexually repressed and generally unpleasant focal point of the novel, is glumly married to the rather boring local doctor and spends the book longing and scheming for the passion, ecstasy, and luxury she’s experienced only in books. Like any good heroine doomed to go down in flames (paging Anna Karenina), Madame B. has her share of affairs, accumulates substantial debt, before—spoiler alert—ending it all with arsenic, much as Edith Wharton’s Lily Bart would do nearly half a century later in The House of Mirth, albeit with a popular “sleeping aid” made of choral hydrate. But both are…

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