Adulteress as Archetype: Analyzing Anna, Emma, and Hedda
Matthew Arnold wrote, “The truth is we are not to take Anna Karenina as a work of art: we are to take it as a piece of life.” Gustav Flaubert famously said, “One can be master of what one does, but never of what one feels.” Oscar Wilde said of Hedda Gabler, “I felt pity and terror as though the play had been in Greek.”
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary stand together as the most prominent nineteenth-century European novels of adultery. The title role in Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, the other great suicide-adulteress of the nineteenth century, is thought by many critics to be one of the great dramatic roles in theater—the female Hamlet. Terrence Doody, professor of English at Rice University, will examine adulteress as archetype and discuss the decline of cherished values and moral principles that precipitate the suicides of Anna, Emma, and Hedda.
Terrence Doody, the author of Confession and Community in the Noveland Among Other Things: A Description of the Novel, has received NEH and Mellon grants as well as several prestigious teaching awards at Rice University. He teaches courses in the modernist period, the novel and narrative theory, contemporary literature, and poetry.
In this course, we will read the translation of Hedda Gabler by James McFarlane and Jens Arup, followed by the Penguin edition of Madame Bovary, and conclude with the edition of Anna Karenina translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.