FunAstrology"The Emma Bovary Case": Fictional Character in the Dock

"The Emma Bovary Case": Fictional Character in the Dock

A wife with lascivious thoughts and an urge for freedom: that was considered obscene in France in 1857. The novel “Madame Bovary” brought Gustave Flaubert to a criminal trial. The birth of an icon.

Berlin – A woman with a thousand faces: The title character from Gustave Flaubert’s scandalous novel “Madame Bovary” (1856) is still fascinating today.

Her life is a scandal to the last breath: with her affairs, her debts and her desires, she in no way corresponds to the usual image of women of her time. Emma Bovary has captivated millions and millions of readers in more than 150 years. The documentary “The Emma Bovary Case” approaches this phenomenon on Wednesday at 10.30 p.m. on Arte.

Flaubert was 35 years old when the scandalous novel – his first work – made him known all over France overnight. In January 1857 the work earned him a place in the dock of the Paris Criminal Court. The accusation of the censors: immorality and glorification of adultery. Flaubert goes into the process without much hope: “I don’t expect justice. I will begin my imprisonment and of course I will not ask anyone for mercy. Because that would really dishonor me ”, as he writes in a letter.

Prosecutor Ernest Pinard – advocate of prudish morality – sees the danger that the lascivious tone, the breaking out of marriage and the role of motherhood could lead the women of France astray. The book is read aloud in court for a full four days. Of course, only with the aim of getting excited about the content after each passage.

Not only Flaubert, but also his fictional heroine is put on trial. The prosecutor accuses her of not even trying to love her husband – a clumsy country doctor from the provinces. You have to keep the honesty of the times in mind to see the great social explosive in it.

Although the French Revolution had introduced divorce, this advance was later cashed in by the legislature during the time of the Bourbon kings. Emma Bovary, a woman who had married the wrong man, openly admitted this mistake in mind games and first committed adultery in her mind and then in reality – that could only result in a public scandal. Flaubert had wrestled the masterpiece hard for five years.

With many film clips and quotes, the documentary tells the story of the Bovary case. In the end, the writer – and with it his heroine – wins the process. “Madame Bovary” has been translated more than 900 times and is one of the most widely read novels in the world and has repeatedly inspired film directors around the world. Emma is still one of the most frequently portrayed heroines. dpa

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