This article discusses documents, knowledge, and truth through a conceptual examination and through an examination of Flaubert's 19th century novel Madame Bovary. It argues that the main characters of Madame Bovary deceive themselves by believing that the contents of the fictional and medical texts they read convey truth. In contrast, the article argues that modern knowledge is constituted by documentary evidence operating in knowledge networks and processes where the result of such operations is what can be claimed to be true about the world through such processes. The representational malady that Madame and Doctor Bovary suffer in the novel was a common one among the emerging bourgeoisie of the time, but it is also a common one today, with the internet as the site of this plague.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.