What My Poem and “Madame Bovary” Shared?


Mahvash Shahegh
by Mahvash Shahegh

A few days ago, my poem “Sale” was posted on Iranian.com, my favorite site. A day or two after that when I checked the site the poem was gone and I could not find it anywhere.  Later, I read about the hard disk and technical problem that the site encountered.  Today, when I did my daily pilgrimage to the site, the poem had returned home from its journey!

This incident reminded me of a short story titles: “The Kugelmass Episode” by Woody Allen.  To make a short story even shorter, Mr. Kugelmass, a professor of humanities in the City College of New York, who is a middle aged, unattractive and bold man, decided to have an extra marital affair. He thought because of his unattractiveness, it would be difficult to do it on his own, so, he seeks a help of a magician.

The magician suggested him to date a few characters from literary, classical novels like, Hester  Prynne, Sister Carrie,  Ophelia whom he rejected all.  Finally, the magician suggested Emma Bovary from the novel “Madame Bovary” by Gustav Flaubert which sounded perfect to Mr. Kugelmass.

Madame Bovary and Mr. Gugelmass started their affair.  The first few times, the magician sent Mr. Kugelmass to Yonville, a village in France where Emma Bovary was living, through his magic box. Then, he invited her to his place which she accepted and again with the help of the magician she traveled to New York. While she was in New York, a professor of literature in Stanford University opened up the Madame Bovary book, first he found a stranger character in the book and second, he realized that Madame Bovary was gone from the book!  He thought to himself: “well, I guess the mark of a classic is that you can reread it a thousand times and always find something new.”

What my poem and Emma Bovary shared was the absence from their places. As Madame Bovary returned back to France from her trip to New York and, consequently, to the book, my poem from its journey to other places in the cyber-space came back to the site  of Iranian.com and, triumphantly, sat on its previous place.


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Madame Bovary (1949)- Hollywood Version