What books are mentioned in Madame Bovary?

The books mentioned in Madame Bovary are largely romantic-era works, such as Paul et Virginie and the works of Walter Scott.

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Emma Bovary is presented as a voracious reader of romantic literature. These are not always romance novels as in the modern sense (though Emma is enchanted by stories of lovers), but books about human passions such as anger, sorrow, lust, love, and other heightened forms of emotion.

Walter Scott's novels are mentioned as some of Emma's reading material. Scott was perhaps the most popular author of the first half of the nineteenth century and was a seminal creator of the Romantic era at large. He wrote historical novels, his most famous being the medieval romance Ivanhoe. The appeal of his work for Emma seems to be in their exotic settings and notions of chivalry:

From Walter Scott, subsequently, she conceived a passion for things historical, dreamed about coffers, guard-rooms and minstrels. She would have liked to live in some old manor-house, like those chatelaines in their long corsages, under their trefoiled Gothic arches, spending their days, elbows on the parapet and chin in hand, looking out far across the fields for the white-plumed rider galloping towards her on his black horse.

Another book explicitly named is the novel Paul et Virginie, a sentimental novel from the eighteenth century about two friends whose childhood friendship blossoms into romantic love in an island setting. The novel ends tragically when society tears the young lovers apart. This would have all appealed to Emma's sensibilities, her craving for melodramatic action and heightened passions.

These are by and large the most significant works referenced in the book. Emma reads other novels, but they are not always mentioned by name. The most significant element connecting them all is that they are romantic as opposed to realistic, giving Emma skewed visions of what life is really like and the consequences of recklessness.

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