I BUY IT FOR THE BOVARY
She is one of literature's most celebrated sinners. But first she was tempted. In this new translation, Emma's transformation from bored provincial wife to enthusiastic adulterer reminds us what a scandal it can be to be human.
With her face tilted down a little, she abandoned herself to the cadence of the motion that rocked her in the saddle.
But anyway: the effect of all this packaging was that the excerpt, which is taken from chapter nine of the second part of "Bovary," when Rodolphe takes Emma riding, sounded to my ear a bit like erotica at first. But soon, quite soon, I was struck delirious by the force of Flaubert's writing, and the precision (the perfection) of Davis's translation. Here is the moment after Emma "gives herself" to Rodolphe:
The evening shadows were coming down; the horizontal sun, passing between the branches, dazzled her eyes. Here and there, all around her, patches of light shimmered in the leaves or on the ground, as if hummingbirds in flight had scattered their feathers there. Silence was everywhere; something mild seemed to be coming forth from the trees; she could feel her heart, which was beginning to beat again, and her blood flowing through her flesh like a river of milk. Then, from far away beyond the woods, on the other hills, she heard a vague, prolonged cry, a voice that lingered, and she listened to it in silence as it lost itself like a kind of music in the last vibrations of her tingling nerves.
THE NEW YORKER