French Literature

Explore the breadth of French Literature in this Collection of selected titles. Spanning hundreds of years of French literary history, these selections highlight landmark works from writers like Voltaire and Camus, as well as contemporary voices in French literature.

Publication year 1944Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Tragedy, French Literature

Publication year 1877Genre Novella, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Realism, Realistic Fiction, French Literature

A Simple Heart is a novella by Gustave Flaubert that appeared in his book Three Tales. The title has also been translated as A Simple Soul. The story follows the kind and loving maidservant Félicité from her youth to her death and details the many loves that she loses along the way, exploring themes of The Power of Social Class, The Value of a Personal Relationship With God, and The Omnipresence of Death. This guide... Read A Simple Heart Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Society: War, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Historical Fiction, Military / War, WWI / World War I, French Literature

Publication year 1959Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Historical Fiction, Play: Tragedy, Religion / Spirituality, History: European, Politics / Government, French Literature, Modernism

Becket or The Honor of God is a 1959 play by the French dramatist Jean Anouilh. It portrays a fictionalized version of the conflict that took place between King Henry II of England and the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in the 12th century. The English translation of the play premiered on Broadway in 1960 to great acclaim and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1964.The central conflict of Becket, which ended in... Read Becket Summary

Publication year 1943Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Philosophy, Existentialism, French Literature, Absurdism

Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology (1943) by Jean-Paul Sartre is a foundational text for the philosophical movement of existentialism. Sartre, a 20th-century writer and philosopher, wrote Being and Nothingness while in a prisoner of war camp during World War II. Being and Nothingness addresses theories of consciousness, nothingness, self-identity, essences, and freedom. Sartre’s work builds upon a legacy of existentialist theories while defining and shaping them into a comprehensive ideology. He challenges... Read Being and Nothingness Summary

Publication year 1697Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Fairy Tale / Folklore, Classic Fiction, French Literature

“Blue Beard,” by 17th-century French author Charles Perrault, is a short story in the fairy tale genre that relies on symbolism and concision to address themes of Female Agency, Transgressive Knowledge, and Patriarchal Control. First published in Perrault’s 1697 book Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé, avec des Moralités (meaning Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals), “Blue Beard” was found alongside other classic fairy tales that engage with similar themes, such as “Sleeping... Read Bluebeard Summary

Publication year 1880Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Nation, Society: WarTags French Literature, Military / War, Historical Fiction

“Boule de Suif,” which translates to “ball of fat” in English, is a short story by 19th-century French Naturalist writer Guy de Maupassant. Published in 1880, it was his first published story and is considered one of his greatest works. The story explores the power dynamics of class and gender while also painting a picture of the dismal final days of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 in Prussian-occupied France. All told, Maupassant wrote some 300... Read Boule De Suif Summary

Publication year 1944Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags French Literature, Philosophy, Play: Drama, Existentialism, Absurdism

Publication year 1759Genre Novella, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Satire, Philosophy, Science / Nature, French Literature

Candide, or Optimism was first published in 1759 by the French writer Voltaire (born Francois-Marie Arouet in 1694, died in 1778). The most famous and widely read work published by Voltaire, Candide is a satire that critiques contemporary philosophy, and specifically Leibnizian optimism, which posited the doctrine of the best of all possible worlds. Along with other French contemporaries, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot, and Montesquieu, Voltaire published at the height of the French... Read Candide Summary

Publication year 1840Genre Novella, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Classic Fiction, Romance, French Literature

Publication year 1897Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Society: War, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Classic Fiction, Play: Drama, Play: Comedy / Satire, Romance, Auto/Biographical Fiction, French Literature, Arts / Culture, Love / Sexuality, Grief / Death, Finance / Money / Wealth

Cyrano de Bergerac: An Heroic Comedy in Five Acts by Edmond Rostand was originally published in 1898. Rostand was a popular poet and playwright in France during his lifetime. Cyrano de Bergerac is a five-act verse drama—a tragic romance, set in France in the mid-1600s. It was far more popular than all of Rostand’s other works and has been performed and adapted countless times since its initial successful run.Cyrano de Bergerac explores themes of Unrequited... Read Cyrano de Bergerac Summary

Publication year 1782Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Identity: SexualityTags Classic Fiction, French Literature, Historical Fiction, Romance, Love / Sexuality

Dangerous Liaisons is an epistolary novel (i.e., a story told through a series of letters) first published in 1782, seven years before the start of the French Revolution, by Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos de Laclos. The story revolves around the scheming and manipulative activities of two aristocrats, the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont. They take pleasure in seducing and ruining the reputations of others, using their wit and charm to manipulate those around them... Read Dangerous Liaisons Summary

Publication year 1835Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: U.S., Politics / Government, French Literature

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is a work of history and political philosophy published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840. Tocqueville embarked on his own political career in France but is best known for his contributions to history and political philosophy.The first volume is based on Tocqueville’s nearly yearlong sojourn in the United States, ostensibly to study its prisons and prison reform. In his introduction Tocqueville emphasizes that... Read Democracy in America Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Politics & Government, Society: ClassTags Philosophy, Incarceration, History: World, Sociology, Psychology, French Literature

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault is a socio-political study of how power manifests in the Western penal system throughout history. Considered to be Foucault’s masterpiece, Discipline and Punish traces the history of how punishment and control were applied in Western society and how penal systems evolved to match changes in social sensibilities. Michel Foucault was a French historical philosopher and literary critic in the 20th century. Foucault’s work has... Read Discipline And Punish Summary

Publication year 1637Genre Book, NonfictionTags Philosophy, French Literature

French philosopher Rene Descartes’s Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy constitute two halves of a single unified project. The former was first published in 1637, while the latter was first published in 1641. The full title of Discourse on Method is Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences. The full title of Mediations on First Philosophy is Meditations on First Philosophy in which the... Read Discourse on Method Summary

Publication year 1763Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: EducationTags Philosophy, Education, French Literature

Published in 1762, Emile, or On Education, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, launched a revolution in thinking about how society should educate and rear children. Its main tenets—that children must learn in accordance with their developing minds, and that society impedes and corrupts their growth—became rallying cries for educators in France and elsewhere. The book’s assertion that children should not be taught religious doctrine caused an uproar. Along with Rousseau’s political treatise, The Social Contract (also published... Read Emile: On Education Summary

Publication year 1170Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Relationships: MarriageTags Romance, Medieval Literature / Middle Ages, French Literature

Erec and Enide is a book-length poem written by French poet Chrétien de Troyes around the year 1170. The poem is one of Chrétien’s series of so-called Arthurian romances—a genre of poem in the Middle Ages that told the stories of the individuals associated with King Arthur’s court. His poems are among the earliest to refer to King Arthur and his knights, and Erec and Enide focuses on the adventures of the knight Erec. This... Read Erec and Enide Summary

Publication year 1946Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Existentialism, French Literature

In “Existentialism is a Humanism” (1945), French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre attempts to convince an audience of philosophers and laypeople alike that his philosophy is neither pessimistic, nor relativist, nor quietist, nor subjectivist in the sense of presenting human beings as isolated individuals. He begins by elaborating Christians’ and Marxists’ criticisms of his ideas, then attempts to respond to each. In doing so, he focuses on the key formulation of existentialism, “existence precedes essence.” Then... Read Existentialism is a Humanism Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Romance, Mystery / Crime Fiction, French Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1564Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Marriage, Self Discovery, Society: Education, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Classic Fiction, Play: Comedy / Satire, Fantasy, Humor, French Literature

The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel is a series of five novels written in French by François Rabelais in the 16th century. The novel-cycle relates the adventures of two giants in hyperbolic, satirical prose. Using humor ranging from slapstick to irony, Rabelais explores serious themes such as the development of education and religious reformation. The books are noted for their colorful, rich literary style, bursting with puns, allusions, and social commentary. An early example of... Read Gargantua And Pantagruel Summary

Publication year 1885Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Classic Fiction, French Literature

Germinal, written by French author Émile Zola, was originally published as a serial novel from November 1884 until February 1885. It was published fully in March 1885. The novel is the 13th of 20 in Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart series, which focuses on the influence of heredity in two branches of a family during the Second French Empire. Considered one of Zola’s best novels, Germinal takes its name from a spring month in the French Republican... Read Germinal Summary

Publication year 1558Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Classic Fiction, French Literature

The Heptameron is a collection of 72 short stories written in French by Marguerite de Navarre, sister of François I, and published posthumously in 1558, almost a decade after her death. It was originally designed to be a collection of 100 tales told over 10 days in the tradition of Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. However, at the time of the author’s death, she had only completed the first seven days and two stories of the eighth... Read Heptameron Summary

Publication year 1992Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Afro-Caribbean Literature, French Literature

Part I relates the story of Tituba from her birth to her arrival in Salem. Part II begins with the witch trials and ends with Tituba’s execution in Barbados in the 1700s. The Epilogue, narrated by Tituba’s spirit, brings the story from the century of her death to that of the present-day reader. Following the Epilogue are two sections that Condé included in the original French publication: a Historical Note on the Salem witch trials... Read I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem Summary

Publication year 1898Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Politics / Government, History: European, Journalism, French Literature

Publication year 1864Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Natural World: PlaceTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Classic Fiction, French Literature

Journey to the Center of the Earth was written by the French writer Jules Gabriel Verne (1828–1905), who is best known for Extraordinary Voyages, a series of science fiction adventure stories that includes Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) as well as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1872). Verne was born in the French port city of Nantes and from a young age was... Read Journey To The Center Of The Earth Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionTags French Literature

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is the first novel by Faëza Guène, who was only nineteen when it was published in 2004. The book was embraced and celebrated in France as reflecting the authentic voice of working-class young people, especially those of North-African descent growing up in the rundown suburban housing projects outside of Paris. Guène, the daughter of Algerian immigrants, grew up in the suburb of Bobigny, very close to Livry-Gargan, the location of the fictional... Read Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow Summary

Publication year 1670Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: MarriageTags French Literature

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, otherwise known as Molière, premiered his five-act comedy, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, in 1670 for the court of King Louis XIV at the Château of Chambord. The title, often translated as The Middle-Class Gentleman, is a contradiction in terms, since the word “gentleman” refers to a man who was born into nobility. Therefore, a bourgeois gentleman could not exist. Molière is one of the most well-known writers of French literature, and translations of his... Read Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Summary

Publication year 1636Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Tragedy, Play: Comedy / Satire, Arts / Culture, French Literature

Le Cid is a five-act tragicomic play by Pierre Corneille, first performed in 1636 at the Théâtre du Marais in Paris. The plot is based on the Spanish play Las mocedadas del Cid by Guillén de Castro, which itself is based on the legend of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (1043-1099), a Castilian knight and Spanish national hero whose title “El Cid” is derived from the Arabic word for lord, sayyid. Corneille (1606-1684) is considered one... Read Le Cid Summary

Publication year 1862Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction, Drama / Tragedy, French Literature

Les Misérables (in English, The Wretched or The Miserable Ones) is a novel by French author Victor Hugo, published for the first time in 1862. The story follows several characters through early- to mid-19th century France as they seek redemption for their sins and an escape from poverty. As well as being praised as one of the greatest novels of its time, Les Misérables has been adapted for many other formats, most notably a very... Read Les Miserables Summary

Publication year 1856Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: ApathyTags Classic Fiction, French Literature, Realism

Madame Bovary is a foundational realist novel. Authored by the esteemed French writer Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), Madame Bovary was first released through serialization in 1856, and then formally published as Flaubert’s debut novel in 1857. Madame Bovary is one of the earliest examples of realism in literature and is credited with helping to develop the importance of psychological realism in literature. It is a love story, a vociferous critique of the ways in which society... Read Madame Bovary Summary

Publication year 1731Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Classic Fiction, French Literature

Manon Lescaut, written by Abbé Antoine Francois Prévost and published in 1731, is perhaps best described as a novella. Originally just a small piece of Prévost’s seven-volume work, Memoirs and Adventures of a Man of Quality, it quickly became very popular and is now Prévost’s most well-known work. Memoirs is a fictional autobiography of Monsieur de Renoncour, who introduces Manon Lescaut, which is in turn narrated by the protagonist of the story, the Chevalier Des... Read Manon Lescaut Summary

Publication year 2001Genre Novella, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Identity: Race, Relationships: FathersTags French Literature, Grief / Death, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Relationships, Realistic Fiction, Parenting, Love / Sexuality, Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy

First published as a play in 2001, the novella Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran is part of Franco-Belgian author Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s Cycle of the Invisible series consisting of unrelated stories on the themes of human connection, the transition from childhood to adulthood, and spirituality. Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran has been performed on the stage and was adapted for the screen in 2003. This study guide refers to Marjolijn... Read Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran Summary

Publication year 1592Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Philosophy, Elizabethan Era, French Literature

Montaigne: Selected Essays comes from the pen of Michel de Montaigne, a 16th-century French jurist, advisor, and diplomat whose many adventures would make a compelling autobiography. Instead, Montaigne writes a series of short works that examine his innermost thoughts and feelings, attitudes and beliefs, preferences and daily habits. This would seem a dull topic, but Montaigne’s charm, wit, and wisdom shine through and make the mundane seem fascinating. His attitude is tolerant and open-minded for... Read Montaigne: Essays Summary

Publication year 1880Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Society: Class, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Identity: Femininity, Identity: MasculinityTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Love / Sexuality, Realism, Realistic Fiction, Naturalism, Class, History: European, French Literature

Publication year 1938Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Identity: Mental Health, Self DiscoveryTags Existentialism, Philosophy, French Literature, Classic Fiction

Nausea is a philosophical novel by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Originally published in 1938, the novel was first translated to English in 1949. Nausea takes place in the fictional French city of Bouville (“Mud Town”) and follows the day-to-day life of the reclusive historian Antoine Roquentin. Antoine lives completely alone, without friends or family, as he researches and writes a book on an 18th-century French aristocrat, the Marquis de Rollebon. Antoine’s daily interactions with... Read Nausea Summary

Publication year 1944Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Existentialism, Play: Drama, French Literature, Philosophy, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Relationships

No Exit (1944) is a play by French philosopher, writer, and critic Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre was drafted into the French army during World War II and spent nearly a year as a German prisoner of war. He then wrote and debuted No Exit in Paris while the city was still under German occupation and control. No Exit is comprised of one act which takes place in a single room in the afterlife, which the characters... Read No Exit Summary

Publication year 1823Genre Novella, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags Classic Fiction, French Literature

Written in 1823 by Claire de Duras, Ourika is a French novella based on real events about a Senegalese woman taken as a slave from her native country and raised in French high society. Ourika is one of the first European texts to feature a black protagonist, the psychological depth of whom promotes empathy with the racial “Other” and highlights the importance of nurture (versus nature) in human psychological development. In the Introduction, a young doctor is summoned to an... Read Ourika Summary

Publication year 1670Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature, French Literature

Publication year 1721Genre Novel, FictionTags Classic Fiction, French Literature

Persian Letters (Lettres Persanes in French) is a literary work often termed one of the first epistolary novels. It was written by Charles de Secondat, a social thinker and political philosopher more commonly known by his aristocratic title Montesquieu. The narrative follows Usbek and Rica, two noblemen from Persia, who travel to France and recount their experiences there. The novel was first published anonymously in 1721 in Amsterdam for fear of public repercussions. Today it... Read Persian Letters Summary

Publication year 1677Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Play: Tragedy, Play: Drama, Mythology, French Literature, Neoclassical

Publication year 1980Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Philosophy, Psychology, Gender / Feminism, French Literature

Publication year 1954Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags French Literature, Romance, Love / Sexuality

The Story of O is a 1954 erotic novel written by French writer Anne Desclos under the pen name Pauline Réage. Explicit and intense in tone, the work centers on the sexual life and fantasies of O, who engages in sadomasochistic play with her lover and several other figures, both men and women. At the time the novel was written, women in Europe faced an atmosphere that was repressive both sexually and professionally, leading many... Read Story of O Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, WWII / World War II, Holocaust, French Literature, Jewish Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Suite Française, by French-based Ukrainian writer Irène Némirovsky (born 1903), was published in the original French upon its discovery in 2004. However, Némirovsky started writing Suite in 1941, during the Nazi occupation of France, when those with a Jewish ethnic background like her faced persecution under the contemporary antisemitic regime. She and her husband, Michel Epstein, and their two young daughters, Denise and Élisabeth, had fled Paris for Issy-l’Évêque, a rural village in Burgundy. There... Read Suite Francaise Summary

Publication year 1913Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: NostalgiaTags Classic Fiction, French Literature, Modernism

Swann’s Way is a novel by French writer Marcel Proust. First published in 1913, it is the first volume in a series titled In Search of Lost Time. The series is famous for Proust’s exploration of memory and nostalgia and is widely considered among the greatest works of world literature. Swann’s Way has been adapted for film, television, and stage. This guide is based on an eBook version of the 1922 Henry Holt and Company... Read Swann's Way Summary

Publication year 1664Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: FamilyTags Play: Comedy / Satire, Relationships, Arts / Culture, French Literature

Tartuffe, also known as The Imposter or The Hypocrite, is a Neoclassical comedy written by French playwright, actor, writer, and director Molière, born as Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. It was first produced in 1664 in France. While King Louis XIV and the public enjoyed the play, religious groups, including the Catholic Church and members of the upper class, condemned it for its display of a seemingly religious character who preys on those around on him for his... Read Tartuffe Summary

Publication year 1861Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: AnimalsTags French Literature, Romanticism / Romantic Period, Food, Lyric Poem

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: FateTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Psychological Fiction, French Literature, Post Modernism

Publication year 1186Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: European, French Literature

The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus (Andrew the Chaplain, whose true identity remains unknown) was composed in Latin between 1186 and 1190. This study guide refers to the translation by John Jay Parry. The original Latin title, De amore, translates literally to “about” or “concerning” love, which reflects the text’s theme of inquiring into love—what it is, for whom is it possible, how to provoke it, how to sustain and increase it, and... Read The Art of Courtly Love Summary

Publication year 1956Genre Play, FictionTags French Literature

In The Balcony, playwright Jean Genet uses the backdrop of a brothel to condemn the corruption and pettiness of which all people are capable. He is particularly scathing towards those in power. Outside of the brothel, the city—which is never named—is undergoing a “revolution” without a clear aim. For much of the play, it is unclear whether the revolution is real, or an elaborate extension of the fantasies being played out in the brothel, which... Read The Balcony Summary

Publication year 1950Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Language, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Play: Drama, Absurdism, French Literature

La Cantatrice Chauve, translated to The Bald Soprano in English, is a 1950 absurdist play by Eugène Ionesco and a seminal work of the Theatre of the Absurd movement. Ionesco was famously inspired to write the play while learning English from an Assimil language primer, in which cliché English characters having artificial conversations and reciting basic facts of life soon began to take on absurd philosophical meaning for the playwright. The Bald Soprano was Ionesco’s... Read The Bald Soprano Summary