Reflections on art, fitness, family, politics and literature that hit me like bricks as I chauffeur my children from place to place...
A pink taxi
March 2, 2012
Madame Bovary and The Old Man and the Sea
Why do we stop reading classics after graduating from college? Why do we limit our literature analysis to that particular time of our lives, especially in high school, when we really skimmed through, barely understood and hardly reflected on books that become nonetheless milestones in our understanding of academics and life?
I remember overhearing a guy at Starbucks telling his friend: "its a Catch 22...." I had to urge to interrupt their conversation and tell them: "have you read Catch 22? I have tried to read and understand it, but never finished the book because it is a boring book about World War Aviation. Ok you use the term quite openly but I won't allow myself to use it as I haven't earned it. I would rather say: I can't have the cake and eat it." I did read Waiting for Godot. Again a boring read, as best described by its title.
A friend was startled that I was reading Madame Bovary. "A scandalous book about an adulterous woman!" I replied: "Flaubert was the first feminist! He exclaimed that "Madame Bovary c'est moi", thus taking full responsibility for his heroine's actions and feelings. Despite the fact that I read Madame Bovary when I was a teenager, I do remember that the book is more about feelings than about actions, that the woman's "crime" all took place in her fantasies, that she lived by her dreams and her disillusions, that she didn't really deserve the A "scarlett letter" of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I will find out by reading it again, as an adult seeking answers and confirmations to my memories of "immature" reading.
I was even younger when I read The Old Man and the Sea in a summer class in the United States. I remember skimming the book because it was boring for a teenager who only enjoyed books with female heroines. An Old Man? I couldn't understand Hemingway then!
My son selected it as a vacation read school assignment. He read it in French translation, with me in interested tow. We got an audio book and listened to it together and we discussed it. I think he understood more than I ever did when I was a school girl because he had a maternal reading club!
I must mention that Madame Bovary opens with a chapter about Monsieur Bovary, the husband she would eventually betray. He fell for her when he was still married, before his first wife died. And what comes around goes around, she also fell for someone while she was married....but I have not gotten to that part yet!
Flaubert reads rich, but tasty! His descriptions have the brush stroke of Impressionists but carry the detail of the Realists.
The pink taxi runs from 7 am to 7pm. It picks and drops off my 3 kids at school, ballet,judo, aikido, violin, climbing, riding, squash, basketball, skiing, skating, swim team, friends, grandparents and teachers. The car, not pink, but a black SUV, drives to Carrefour and Coop. To Club stretch for pilates and Aviation club for weekly workouts. It is driven by a woman who navigates on the radio, gets DJed by her 4 year old or sometimes quietly reflects. The thoughts are about politics, family, humor, literature, art or fitness. Sometimes they are excruciatingly longwinded, other times they are gossipy and hot.
I hope you will all enjoy!