Author(s): Gustave Flaubert
From A to Z, the Penguin Drop Caps series collects 26 unique hardcovers--featuring cover art by type superstar Jessica Hische It all begins with a letter. Fall in love with Penguin Drop Caps, a new series of twenty-six collectible and gift-worthy hardcover editions, each with a type cover showcasing a gorgeously illustrated letter of the alphabet by superstar type designer Jessica Hische, whose work has appeared everywhere from Tiffany & Co. to Wes Anderson's film "Moonrise Kingdom" to Penguin's own bestsellers "Committed "and "Rules of Civility." A collaboration between Jessica Hische and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley, the series design encompasses foil-stamped paper-over-board cases in a rainbow-hued spectrum across all twenty-six book spines and a decorative stain on all three paper edges. Penguin Drop Caps debuts with an "A" for Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," a "B" for Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre," and a "C" for Willa Cather's "My antonia," and continues with more classics from Penguin.
F is for Flaubert. Emma Bovary is the original desperate housewife. Beautiful but bored, she is married to the provincial doctor Charles Bovary yet harbors dreams of an elegant and passionate life. Escaping into sentimental novels, she finds her fantasies dashed by the tedium of her days. Motherhood proves to be a burden; religion is only a brief distraction. In an effort to make her life everything she believes it should be, she spends lavishly on clothes and on her home and embarks on two disappointing affairs. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, Emma takes drastic action with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter. When published in 1857, "Madame Bovary" was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for its heroine. Today the novel is considered the first masterpiece of realist fiction. In this landmark translation of Flaubert's masterwork, Lydia Davis honors the nuances and particulars of a style that has long beguiled readers of French, giving new life in English to the book that redefined the novel as an art form.
GUSTAVE FLAUBERT was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a prominent physician. A solitary child, he was attracted to literature at an early age, and after his recovery from a nervous breakdown suffered while a law student, he turned his total energies to writing. Aside from journeys to the Near East, Greece, Italy, and North Africa, and a stormy liaison with the poetess Louise Colet, his life was dedicated to the practice of his art. The form of his work was marked by intense aesthetic scrupulousness and passionate pursuit of le mot juste; its content alternately reflected scorn for French bourgeois society and a romantic taste for exotic historical subject matter. The success of "Madame Bovary" (1857) was ensured by government prosecution for "immorality"; "Salammbo "(1862) and "The Sentimental Education" (1869) received a cool public reception; not until the publication of "Three Tales" (1877) was his genius popularly acknowledged. Among fellow writers, however, his reputation was supreme. His circle of friends included Turgenev and the Goncourt brothers, while the young Guy de Maupassant underwent an arduous literary apprenticeship under his direction. Increasing personal isolation and financial insecurity troubled his last years. His final bitterness and disillusion were vividly evidenced in the savagely satiric Bouvard and Pecuchet, left unfinished at his death in 1880.
LYDIA DAVIS has been a MacArthur Fellow, National Book Award finalist, and Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She was awarded the 2003 French-American Foundation Translation Prize for her translation of Marcel Proust's "Swann's Way" and lives near Albany, New York.
JESSICA HISCHE is a letterer, illustrator, typographer, and web designer. She currently serves on the Type Directors Club board of directors, has been named a "Forbes Magazine" "30 under 30" in art and design as well as an ADC Young Gun and one of "Print Magazine"'s "New Visual Artists." She has designed for Wes Anderson, "McSweeney's," Tiffany & Co, Penguin Books and many others. She resides primarily in San Francisco, occasionally in Brooklyn.