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The Cambridge Introduction to French Literature


Part of Cambridge Introductions to Literature

  • Date Published: June 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521715096

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About the Authors
  • In this highly accessible introduction, Brian Nelson provides an overview of French literature - its themes and forms, traditions and transformations - from the Middle Ages to the present. Major writers, including Francophone authors writing from areas other than France, are discussed chronologically in the context of their times, to provide a sense of the development of the French literary tradition and the strengths of some of the most influential writers within it. Nelson offers close readings of exemplary passages from key works, presented in English translation and with the original French. The exploration of the work of important writers, including Villon, Racine, Molière, Voltaire, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, Proust, Sartre and Beckett, highlights the richness and diversity of French literature.

    • Accessible and beautifully written overview of French literature from the Middle Ages to the present
    • Provides detailed close reading and textual analysis of exemplary passages
    • Features important French and Francophone writers including Molière, Voltaire, Zola, Proust, Sartre and Beckett
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… an important contribution and a rewarding read … [Nelson's] scholarship … is all the more impressive for being deftly deployed … He has successfully made his own the motto of the French classical period - plaire et instruire (to impart pleasure and knowledge).' Colin Nettelbeck, Australian Book Review

    'This is a book for everyone interested in French literature, whether erudite or ignorant; it is immensely informative with no jargon and no posturing.' Valerie Minogue, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society

    'Nelson has produced a concise, easily comprehensible overview of French literature.' F. E. Nicholson, Choice

    'To say that this book is readable would be a serious understatement … inspired and often inspiring …' T. Chapman Wing, H-France

    '… rich and eminently readable …' John Flower, French Studies

    'Divided into thirty short chapters, each of which is devoted to a 'major' author, this introduction is at once easy to read and solidly grounded in recent scholarship. … A succinct chronology of historical events is provided, as are suggestions for further reading.' Edward Ousselin, The French Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521715096
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Villon: a dying man
    2. Rabelais: the uses of laughter
    3. Montaigne: self-portrait
    4. Corneille: heroes and kings
    5. Racine: in the labyrinth
    6. Molière: new forms of comedy
    7. La Fontaine: the power of fables/fables of power
    8. Madame de Lafayette: the birth of the modern novel
    9. Voltaire: the case for tolerance
    10. Rousseau: man of feeling
    11. Diderot: the enlightened sceptic
    12. Laclos: dangerous liaisons
    13. Stendhal: the pursuit of happiness
    14. Balzac: 'All is true'
    15. Hugo: the divine stenographer
    16. Baudelaire: the streets of Paris
    17. Flaubert: the narrator vanishes
    18. Zola: the poetry of the real
    19. Huysmans: against nature
    20. Mallarmé: the magic of words
    21. Rimbaud: somebody else
    22. Proust: the self, time and art
    23. Jarry: the art of provocation
    24. Apollinaire: impresario of the new
    25. Breton and company: surrealism
    26. Céline: night journey
    27. Sartre: writing in the world
    28. Camus: a moral voice
    29. Beckett: filling the silence
    30. French literature into the twenty-first century
    Further reading.

  • Author

    Brian Nelson, Monash University, Melbourne
    Brian Nelson is Professor Emeritus of French Studies and Translation Studies at Monash University, Victoria, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His publications include Perspectives on Literature and Translation: Creation, Circulation, Reception (co-edited with Brigid Maher, 2013), The Cambridge Companion to Emile Zola (Cambridge, 2007) and translations of the novels of Émile Zola.

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