Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary (1856)
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There isn't a bourgeois alive who in the ferment of his youth, if only for a day or for a minute, hasn't thought himself capable of boundless passions and noble exploits. The sorriest little woman-chaser has dreamed of Oriental queens; in a corner of every notary's heart lie the moldy remains of a poet.
In her enthusiasms she had always looked for something tangible: she had always loved church for its flowers, music for its romantic words, literature for its power to stir the passions and she rebelled before the mysteries of faith just as she grew ever more restive under discipline, which was antipathetic to her nature.
Remembering the ball became for Emma a daily occupation. Every time Wednesday came round, she told herself when she woke up: 'Ah! One week ago...two weeks ago...three weeks ago, I was there!' And, little by little, in her memory, the faces all blurred together; she forgot the tunes of the quadrilles; no longer could she so clearly picture the liveries and the rooms; some details disappeared, but the yearning remained.
She would have liked not to be alive, or to be always asleep.
There was an air of indifference about them [the male guests], a calm produced by the gratification of every passion. that special brutality which comes from the habit of breaking down half-hearted resistances that keep one fit and tickle one's vanity—the handling of blooded horses, the pursuit of loose women.