Modernism and Art for Art ‘s Sake, part 1 of 4

Modernism and Art for Art ‘s Sake, part 1 of 4


What we’re talking about here with,
Flobair is a disillusion, although disillusion meant, remember that’s what
we talked about with Marx in the Manifesto too.
For Marx disillusionment was what the Bushwazee provided, they stripped away
the halo over all sentimental occupations, remember we talked about
that, all that is solid melts into air, that kind of disillusionment.
But for Marx, that was disillusionment that woke you up to history.
You wake up to history, you get rid of your illusions, the clouds go away from
your eyes, and then you see what you’re really supposed to do with your sober
senses. For Flaubert, when you wake up to
history, you realize you should retreat to art.
Get rid of your illusions And, and, and go to art, go to aesthetics and a great
example that is, is, Madame Boary, we’re reading, Lydia Davis’, wonderful new
translation. and what we’re going to do for the rest
of the time today is really just focus in on some of the key themes of the novel
which I, I, I trust you have, you have read and if you haven’t read it, you
should stop the video and don’t, as one of my teachers use to say, don’t deny
yourself the pleasure any longer. Go get the book, read it and, and then
come back to the video and, and we can, we can talk some about it.
this is a novel about education in a funny sort of way and it starts you know
the first scene really it starts in a school and that’s where we 1st meet
Charles Bovary, remember? Remember the first time we see him? He comes to
school. What are some of the things we first
learn about Charles. we were in the study hall and one of the
first things we see about him in the very first paragraphs is that he has he’s to
old for the class he goes into. In other words he’s older than the other
boys in the school. Why is that? Why is that? You have to go
back to the beginning of the book, you’ll see that his parents didn’t put him in
school right away. His father, who was a kind of rough and
tumble guy, likes to spit in the spittoon, likes to tell stories about the
military. his father fancies himself a disciple of
Rousseau, remember, wants his kid to go around barefoot, they don’t, he doesn’t
really learn anything, except for you know, walk, ran by the priest, the priest
would tell him something in Latin He’s basically, he’s behind, and it’s a little
bit of a joke at the beginning of the novel.
Charles is behind when the book starts, you know, he’s behind when the book
starts and he stays behind the action, really, until his death.
And he’s, he never catches up really. It’s one of the sad parts about him.
I ask in class what do we know about Charles Bovary? And I’m hoping that
they’ll be very intimidated and they won’t say anything they’ll be quiet.
Because then I can say yes, you’re right. Because, what, what we know about Charles
Bovary is that there’s nothing striking about him.
So, so there’s that’s a phrase in, in, the transition, nothing striking about
him. It’s his hat that we’re commenting on
and, and that, this nothingness at the core of Charles there’s a, there’s a
nothingness there that we glimpse sometimes with great sadness throughout
the novel. You remember how he comes to be married
and his, his mother sets it up. His mother, the good, Ma Bovary, she, she
is, she finds Madame Dubocq Remember Madame Dubocq? She is, She is an older
woman who, who is, an older woman who is, got, they think money coming in every
month. She is scrawny and she is described, her
face is dotted with pimples like a meadow is dotted with flowers.
And she’s altogether unpleasant but she’s got money coming in.
And, and and Flobert wants us to see that that’s what matters to people in the
country. That she’s that she’s going to, or so it
seems, she is going to be the person who gives
Charles the, the, the, the security he should have.
here on page ten of the tran, the edition we’re using, Lydia Davis talks about it
this way. Although she was ugly, although she was
ugly, thin as a, as a lathe, as thick with pimples as the spring is with buds,
Madame Dubocq certainly had no lack of suitors to choose from.
To achieve her ends, Mere Bovary was obliged to supplant them all.
And she very skillfully foiled even the intrigues of a pork-butcher favored by
the clergy. So you see here the dynamics of a small
village, right? There’s this widow who’s got some
money, people think, and everybody’s trying to, even though she’s not
attractive, to put it mildly, people are trying to match up with her and the
butcher, the pork-butcher is being, is being pushed forward by the clergy, but
Mayor Bovary comes along and makes sure that Charles marries her, and Charles
learns that his first how awful things can be really [LAUGH] how awful things
can be. until as fate would have, he is summoned
to a farm to fix the broken leg of Messeur Boreaux who is Emma’s father and
then we first meet Emma. And I, I think it’s important that, that,
to pay attention to the places where we, we first meet characters in a novel.
I. Novels, of real, value, like Madame
Bovary. And the, when you first see Emma,
remember she’s called to sew. And I if you think back, what do we know
about her sewing? Well, in page 13 in the novel, she’s not very, she’s not very
good at it. She, she’s probably not very practiced at
sewing. She keeps pricking her fingers.
She keeps pricking her fingers and, And, and it’s not an accident because this is
a very sensual novel well, put, the author puts it this way.
She was a long time finding her needle case, and here father grew impatient.
We’re talking about Emma. She said nothing in response, but as she
sewed she kept pricking her fingers, which she then raised to her mouth to
suck. And you can see Charles Bovary’s desires
beginning to be stimulated, as she puts her fingers in her mouth.
And later on, in the early scenes, she takes, remember, a glass of brandy.
She gives Charles a grass, glass of brandy.
She’s kind of giggling. And she takes just the tiniest little
bit. And as, as
as Flaubert tells us she well, let me just read it to you but rather than try
to summarize it On, on page, on, on page 19 she, she,
she’s, got her bare shoulders out, she’s got a, she’s a little sweaty.
On page 19 at the bottom of the page. As was the fashion in the country she
offered him something to drink. He refused, Charles did, she insisted and
finally invited him laughing to have a glass of liqueur with her.
So she went to get a, a bottle of curacao from the cupboard, took down two small
glasses, filled one to the rim, for Charles, poured almost nothing in the
other, and, having touched it to his, raised it to her mouth.
As it was almost empty, she leaned back to drink.
And with her head back, her lips thrust out, her neck tense.
She laughed at feeling nothing. She laughed at feeling nothing.
While the tip of her tongue, passing between her delicate teeth.
Licked with little stabs at the bottom of the glass.
Charles has been married to Madame Dubocq, you can imagine he’s going crazy.
I mean this is, this is, this is another world. The world of beauty for Charles,
the world of sensuality and as luck would have it, he thinks at first Madame Dubocq
dies rather suddenly. [LAUGH] after discovering she didn’t have
any money really to begin with, it had been stolen long ago.
and Charles continues to visit Emma and as you know they will eventually be
married. What do we know about Emma’s education?
What do we first know about Emma? we know about the novels she read.
This is important for Fuller cause she’s attracted to romantic novels [FOREIGN]
she’s attracted to fantasy, she’s attracted to
the kind of rhetoric that one would have found in the 1830s.
with big seas and skies full of stars. And ladies swooning and knights in
shining armor. as it says once in the, in the novel.
She was deep in Scott. That is Sir Walter Scott she was a
romantic in her, in her, in her reading. And she’s at a convent school and even
there she’s attracted to religion because of its romance.
She likes the incense, she likes the stories. She, she, she likes seeing
herself as a woman praying. She’s not filled with religious fervor,
she’s filled with the desire to be a person, the kind of person who gets
filled with fervor. [LAUGH] And she’s searching, you see
she’s searching for some way of connecting to the image she has of
beauty, of the image she has of, of of being someone who is transported.
And as, as, as her life unfolds, as you remember she loses her mother early on
and even in grief at her mother’s death, Emma shows herself to be a romantic.
Before her marriage, I’ll just read the last paragraph of section 5, part 1.
Before her marriage she had believed that what she was experiencing was love.
[LAUGH] Oh, never mind. But since the happiness that should have
resulted from that love had not come, she thought she must have been mistaken.
And never tried to find out just what was meant from life.
Are the words, bliss and passion, an intoxication.
Which had seemed so beautiful to her in books and now.
Back to the convent time, we’re back to the,
She had read Paul Avrishinque, the great romantic text, and she had dreamed of the
little bamboo house. The negro Domingo, the faith, the dog
faithful, but most of all, the sweet friendship of the good little brother,
who goes off to fetch red fruit for you from great trees, to [UNKNOWN] church
steeples, or runs barefoot over the sand. So what she liked was the tumultuous,
exotic, romantic world of the novel, of stories, of the imagination.
Just, just the same is true of the way she reacts to her mother’s death 2 pages
later after reading about sultans and, and pipes and sabers and [INAUDIBLE] and
ruin, we see the very bottom of page 33. When her mother’s died, she wept a great
deal the first few days. She had a memorial picture made for
herself with the dead woman’s hair. And in a letter she sent to the Guitoy
full of sorrowful reflections on life she asked to be buried in the same grave,
later. The good man thought she was ill.
Her dad is real, realist, right? The good man thought she was ill and came to see
her. Emma was inwardly satisfied to feel that
she had, at her first attempt, reached that rare ideal of pallid lies which
mediocre hearts will never attain. In other words, even in the grief for her
mother’s death. She is trying to imitate an ideal
grieving. See you next time.

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