Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town

By Gustave Flaubert; Gerard Hopkins | Go to book overview

PART THREE

CHAPTER I

MONSIEUR LÉON, during his time as a law student, had managed to go a good deal to La Chaumière,* and had even succeeded in cutting rather a dash among the grisettes,* who decided that he looked very 'distinguished'. He was in every way a model student, wearing his hair neither too long nor too short, and being careful not to spend the whole of his quarter's allowance on the first of the month. He kept on good terms with his teachers. From excesses he had always held aloof, as much from timidity as fastidiousness.

Often, when reading in his room, or sitting beneath the lime-trees in the Luxembourg Gardens, he would let his copy of the Code* fall to the ground, and give himself up to memories of Emma. But, little by little, his feeling for her grew less, smothered under an accumulated load of other desires. Not that it ever vanished altogether, for he still had hopes, and could indulge his imagination with the vaguest of vague promises which shone in his future like a golden apple glowing amidst the foliage of some fantastic tree.

When, after three years of absence, he saw her again, the old passion awoke once more. He must, he decided, make up his mind once and for all whether or not he really wanted to possess her. His natural shyness had been worn down as the result of contact with gay companions, and he returned to the provinces full of contempt for those who had never trod the asphalt of the boulevards in varnished boots. Faced by the billowing laces of a Parisian lady encountered in the drawing-room of some illustrious doctor covered with decorations and boasting his own carriage, the poor young man would, no doubt, have trembled like a schoolboy; but here, in Rouen, walking along the quay with the wife of a petty country practitioner, he felt wholly at his ease, and was convinced from the first that he would dazzle her. Self-assurance depends upon environment. One does not speak the same language in a drawing-room as in the attics, and the virtue of the rich lady is protected by the knowledge of all the bank-notes which she wears, like a cuirass, in the lining of her stays.

-211-

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Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Select Bibliography xxi
  • A Chronology of Gustave Flaubert xxiii
  • Part One - Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 10
  • Chapter II 17
  • Chapter II 22
  • Chapter II 27
  • Chapter VI 31
  • Chapter VII 35
  • Chapter VII 41
  • Chapter VII 50
  • Part Two - Chapter I 61
  • Chapter II 69
  • Chapter II 75
  • Chapter II 85
  • Chapter II 89
  • Chapter VI 98
  • Chapter VII 110
  • Chapter VIII 117
  • Chapter VIII 138
  • Chapter VIII 148
  • Chapter VIII 156
  • Chapter XII 169
  • Chapter XIII 182
  • Chapter XIV 191
  • Chapter XIV 201
  • Part Three - Chapter I 211
  • Chapter I 211
  • Chapter II 225
  • Chapter II 234
  • Chapter II 236
  • Chapter II 239
  • Chapter II 255
  • Chapter II 271
  • Chapter II 284
  • Chapter II 301
  • Chapter X 309
  • Chapter XI 314
  • Explanatory Notes 325
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