Long established as one of the greatest novels ever written, the book has been described as a "perfect" work of fiction. Henry James wrote: "Madame Bovary has a perfection that not only stamps it, but that makes it stand almost alone: it holds itself with such a supreme unapproachable assurance as both excites and defies judgment." Marcel Proust praised the 'grammatical purity' of Flaubert's style, while Vladimir Nabokov said that 'stylistically it is prose doing what poetry is supposed to do'  Similarly, in his preface to his novel The Joke, author Milan Kundera wrote, "[N]ot until the work of Flaubert did prose lose the stigma of aesthetic inferiority. Ever since Madame Bovary, the art of the novel has been considered equal to the art of poetry."  Giorgio de Chirico said that in his opinion "from the narrative point of view, the most perfect book is Madame Bovary by Flaubert".
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