The Poetic Writing of Gustave Flaubert
It took Flaubert five years to write Madame Bovary. May we all exert that much care and consideration into something so beautiful. This passage in particular strikes me.
Up until now, had there ever been a happy time in his life? His years at the lycee, where he had lived shut in behind high walls, lonely among richer, cleverer schoolmates who laughed at his country accent and made fun of his clothes and whose mothers brought them cookies in their muffs on visiting days? Or later, when he was studying medicine and hadn’t enough in his purse to go dancing with some little working girl who might have become his mistress? After that he had lived fourteen months with the widow, whose feet in bed had been like icicles. But now he possessed, and for always, this pretty wife whom he so loved. This universe, for him, went not beyond the silken circuit of her petticoat; and he would reproach himself for not showing her his love, and yearn to be back with her. He would gallop home, rush upstairs, his heart pounding, Emma would be at her dressing table; he would creep up silently behind her and kiss her; she would cry out in surprise.
He couldn’t keep from constantly touching her comb, her rings, everything she wore; sometimes he gave her great full-lipped kisses on the cheek, or a whole series of tiny kisses up her bare arm, from her fingertips to her shoulder; and half amused, half annoyed, she would push him away as one does an importunate child.
Before her marriage she had thought that she had love within her grasp; but since the happiness which she had expected this love to bring her hadn’t come, she supposed she must have been mistaken. And Emma tried to imagine just what was meant, in life, by the words “bliss,” “passion,” and “rapture” – words that had seemed so beautiful to her in books. – Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary