Gustave Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary

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Date: 1851 - 1899

Region: Europe

Subject: Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Literature


Artist: Gustave Flaubert

Confronting Bodies: Prosecutor Ernst Pinard, editors of Revue de Paris and the French government

Dates of Action: 1856

Location: Paris, France

Description of Artwork: "Madame Bovary" is a classic novel that has been criticized for its sensuousness and adultery in addition to its use of language. One controversial passage describes how Emma Bovary wrapped her legs around Vicomte's while dancing. Another passage reading, "a piece of veal roasted in the oven," describes a solemn period in Charles Bovary's life.

The Incident: The Revue de Paris noted sixty-nine passages in "Madame Bovary" that they wanted cut or altered for its publication in 1856. Flaubert defended his work but was forced to make some changes. Revue de Paris continued to make alterations without his permission. Flaubert went to trial in 1857 against a law that aimed to suppress the exhibition, sale, or distribution of matter considered an "outrage to public and religious morality and to public decency."

Results of Incident: Flaubert was aquitted, even though the judge concurred with Pinard's argument. "Madame Bovary" is still printed internationally.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones