Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Objective correlatives

I must confess that I became ridiculously excited during today's class on Madame Bovary. Check out these sentences (Lydia Davis's translation):
Yet she resigned herself: reverently she put away in the chest of drawers her beautiful dress and even her satin shoes, whose soles had been yellowed by the slippery wax of the dance floor. Her heart was like them: contact with wealth had laid something over it that would not be wiped away.

He had his cap pulled down over his eyebrows, and his thick lips were quivering, which gave a stupid look to his face; even his back, his placid back, was irritating to look at, and she found displayed there, on his coat, all the man’s dullness.

The letter was a tangle of spelling mistakes, and Emma followed the gentle thought that clucked its way through them like a hen half hidden in a hedge of thorns. The writing had been dried with ashes from the fireplace, for a little gray powder slid from the letter onto her dress, and she thought she could almost see her father bending toward the hearth to grasp the tongs....

[Justin cleaned Emma's boots,] which were caked in mud—the mud from her rendezvous; it would fall away as dust under his fingers, and he would watch it rising gently in a ray of sunlight.

It was the first time Emma had heard such things said to her; and her pride, like a person relaxing in a steam bath, stretched out languidly in the warmth of the words.

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