Summer 1951 • Vol. XIII No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1951 |

Madame Bovary: Beauty out of Place

Whatever Madame Bovary may be in the history of the development of the European Novel, or of French sensibility, or of Flaubert's genius, it has as the author says m his dedication "an unexpected authority" of its own. Into that authority, not so much unexpected as beyond expectations, these remarks propose to enquire. It is a novel which is the shape of a life which is the shape of a woman which is the shape of a desire. It is one of those structures of the imagination where we can count on sexual force to fill up all the hollow places, and it is such a structure seen in one of those situations where we may expect the force to be taken as a sentiment and where, at critical junctures, the sentiment will be taken for a force. Somewhere among these shapes, structures, and situations the theme finds itself. Everything goes towards the theme, and "all" the theme does is to pull everything together. It is that pulling together which is the theme. Depending on whether we think of the book

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