Educating Emma: A Genetic Analysis of Reading in Madame Bovary

Flaubert’s manuscripts for Chapter I:6 of Madame Bovary explicitly develop reading as a causal element in Emma\'s character and downfall. The treatment of moral tales for children (the Littérature du Seconde Âge) and Paul et Virginie reflects a dual evolution, in which both the choice of texts and Emma’s approach to reading them are manipulated to accentuate the vapidity of her education and remove any hint of critical faculty. The manuscript evidence thus validates the contextual significance of the argument made by the defense during the 1857 trial, which cited the importance of Emma’s education in interpreting the novel.

Hurlburt, Sarah
Volume 2011-12 Fall-Winter; 40.(1-2): 81-95