Good Reading : May 2010
28 goodreading ı MAY 2010 Exploring the picturesque streets and winding alleys of Rouen is rather like reading a Who's Who of famous French men and women. In 1415 the French ar my assembled outside Rouen before setting off for the Battle of Agincourt, in which they were soundly beaten by Henry V and his ar my. Joan of Arc was captured in 1430, imprisoned in Rouen and burnt at the stake in the town's main square. In the 19th century, writer Guy de Maupassant studied the classics in Rouen, and the impressionist painter Monet turned the town's cathedral into an icon with his delicately coloured paintings under different lighting conditions. Napoleon Bonaparte visited the town in 1802 and there is a fine equestrian statue of him outside the town hall. But above all else, Rouen is the town of the French novelist Gustave Flaubert. He was bor n and raised in Rouen, lived and worked there for all of his life, died there and was buried in the local cemetery. Many parts of his famous novel Madame Bovary are set in Rouen, and tourists can still visit sites connected with the novel and all aspects of his life. Flaubert was born on 12 December 1821 in Rouen Hospital, where his father was a surgeon. The family lived in residential quarters at the hospital during Flaubert's childhood.The hospital building still stands, just a few blocks from the centre of town. It is an impressive, Napoleonic-style building with a wall plaque proclaiming that this was Flaubert's birthplace. On one side of the hospital is the apartment where the Flaubert family lived. It is now the Flaubert and History of Medicine Museum. Inside you can see displays about the family and about the hor rors of 19th century medical practices. In the garden outside there is a marble bas relief sculpture of Flaubert. Back in the centre of Rouen there is a full-length bronze statue of the writer in the leafy, café-filled Place des Carmes. Rouen appears repeatedly in Madame Bovary. This meticulously written story of marital infidelity caused a stor m at the time, though the plot isn't quite so sensational by today's standards. In the early pages of the novel, Charles Bovary goes to school in Rouen. Emma, who becomes Madame Bovary when she mar ries Charles, attends a convent in writer's city 2 5 rouen road to 1 The French provincial city of Rouen is a picture-perfect medieval town with many historical and literary connections. KEITH HALL tracks down sites associated with Gustave Flaubert and his classic novel Madame Bovary.