Friday, September 10


'Why!' said he, 'don't you know that there are some people who are always in a turmoil; people who must be dreaming or doing, turn and turn about, people in whom the loftiest of passions are followed by frenzied self- indulgence, who fling themselves into the wildest extravagances.'

Whereupon she gazed at him as one gazes on a traveller who has journeyed through strange and far- off lands.

'We women, poor souls! haven't even that distraction,' she said.

'A melancholy distraction, for you don't get any happiness out of it.'

'But does one ever find happiness?'

'Yes, some day or other,' he replied.

'And that is what you have realized,' said the [background Agricultural Show] speaker. 'You agriculturists, you who labour on the soil, you peaceful pioneers in a great enterprise of civilization, you men of progress and steadfast probity - you have come to know that political upheavals are even more redoubtable than atmospheric disturbances --'

'Yes,' said Rodolphe, 'you fall in with it some day. It comes all of a sudden, when you have given up hope. Then the heavens seem to open and it is as though you heard a voice crying, "Behold it has come!" You feel somehow that you must give up your whole life to that one person, give up everything, sacrifice everything. You don't try to reason; you just go to each other, instinctively. You've seen one another in your dreams' (here he looked at Emma). 'And there in front of you is the long- sought treasure; it shines, it sparkles before your eyes. Nevertheless, you are still in doubt, you dare not believe it; you are dazzled, as if you had just stepped out of the darkness into the light.'

-- Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary (chapter 17)
Translated by J. Lewis May

Update: More on Madame Bovary at Ionarts