The September issue of US Playboy will include an excerpt of what the magazine claims on its cover is “The Most Scandalous Novel of All Time” – the 19th century French novel “Madame Bovary.


The translation of the novel by Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) is by US writer Lydia Davis, herself a novelist and translator of works by the likes of Marcel Proust and Michel Foucault.

Deep inside the magazine better known for nude models, readers will learn how Flaubert’s heroine became “one of literature’s most celebrated sinners,” reads the magazine’s introduction.

“Emma’s transformation from bored provincial wife to enthusiastic adulterer reminds us what a scandal it can be to be human,” it says.

Flaubert was accused of insulting public morality and religion, as well as good customs, when the book was first published in 1857.

In the Playboy excerpt, Emma Bovary surrenders to her lover, Rodolphe, during a horseback ride.

In the new translation, which Penguin Classics will publish in the United States on September 23, Davis seeks to remain close to the original.

Davis told the British newspaper The Times in a recent interview that she has found more than 15 different translations of “Madame Bovary.”

“I’ve found that the ones that are written with some flair and some life to them are not all that close to the original; the ones that are more faithful may be kind of clunky,” she said.

“So what I’m trying to do is what I think hasn’t been done, which is to create a well-written translation that’s also very close, very faithful to the French,” she said.