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Old 3rd Oct 2005, 21:56   #1
Jennifer
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Default French lit.

This is me shamelessly picking your immense and planet-sized brains, with a little gratuitous flattery thrown in.

For my French coursework this year I get to pick my own topic, so naturally it's going to be literature related. However, my French is decidedly A level standard, so although there are things like the Count of Monte Cristo I could do, which I loved beyond all reason, I don't think my French is up to over 1000 pages of 19th century prose. Though I'm not giving up yet. I have a copy of Michel Houellebecq's Atomised (Les Particules Elementaires) in English so I might read that and see if I think I could hack it in French.

What I'm really asking is, can you recommend a good French book (not necessarily having read it in the original...) that isn't too complex or long? It's rare I want an easy book but since the focus will be on my French rather than on what I've chosen to write about (although I will have to analyse it properly) it doesn't really matter. I just want to enjoy it.

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Old 3rd Oct 2005, 22:11   #2
Colyngbourne
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Default Re: French lit.

The French texts that I studied at A level were Moliere's Tartuffe, Armand Salacrou's Boulevard Durand (which I loved), and Sartre's Les Mains Sales (which I loved and still love), and Guy de Maupassant's short stories Boule de Suif etc. plus some poetry. In fact every French text I studied was good. I recall also reading La Porte Etroite (is that Gide?) and Le Grand Meaulnes.
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Old 3rd Oct 2005, 22:30   #3
Jennifer
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Default Re: French lit.

I presume the Sartre isn't fiction...? I'm intrigued since you say you love it. I've heard good things about Moliere and Maupassant. Thanks for the ideas - I think it's Amazon.fr pour moi maintenant. Unfortunately we don't actually get to do a module on French Lit. these days, so I'm desperately trying to force some literature into my course!
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Old 3rd Oct 2005, 23:31   #4
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Default Re: French lit.

My French A level texts were also Sartre (Les Jeux Sont Faits), Mauriac (Therese Desqueyroux), and Gide (La Symphonie Pastorale). Of these I would recommend the Gide: short, genuinely interesting and moving. Not saying my French would be up to it now, but I'd certainly reread it in English.
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Old 3rd Oct 2005, 23:43   #5
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Cool Re: French lit.

Moliere is great.
'Tout les hommes me sont a tel point odieux
Que je serais fache d'etre sage a leurs yeux'

You have to read that with deliberate iambic pentameter. It still makes me smile.

How about Camus? We studied 'L'exile et le Royaume' which I really liked and went on to read most of the rest of his stuff... I mean, oeuvre!

Sartre too. A bit of a trudge in the original I've found.

Baudelaire poetry is rather good. Les Fleurs du Mal.

I tell what would be very cool would be Beckett in the original. En attendant Godot being the obvious.

Otherwise, Zola is great and I remember reading Balzac's 'Pere Goriot' for A'level which was brilliant stuff.

Or if you wanted to go for something really leftfield, you could look at contemporary rock/pop lyrics!

Enjoy!
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Old 4th Oct 2005, 0:38   #6
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Default Re: French lit.

Actually the Sartre was fiction - a play also known as Les Gants Rouges or Crime Passionel - examining the pur v. the pragmatist politics played out in an imaginary eastern bloc country, with the added bonus of the political mentor/father-figure possibly becoming a cuckolding betrayer of the system/his friend (or not, as the case may be). I re-read it occasionally and am still moved by the exchanges between the idealistic Hugo, desperate to martyr himself for the pure communist cause, and the older, more realistic (there, now I've staked my allegiances) Hoederer, tempted by Hugo's flighty wife, yet trying to mentor Hugo through his youthful passions.
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Old 4th Oct 2005, 10:14   #7
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Default Re: French lit.

I read a fair amount of Camus and Sartre at school and I don't remember either being particularly difficult from a linguistic point of view. My favourite though was definitely Balzac and I ended up reading quite a few of his in both English and French so they can't be that hard.

I've read Platform and Atomized, both in English, so I don't know what they're like in French although I imagine there are a fair few words that won't be in your vocab books! I think doing Houellebecq (so to speak) would be fascinating both for you and your tutor. I believe his latest has just been published in France so you would have to read that in the original anyway.
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Old 4th Oct 2005, 10:46   #8
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Default Re: French lit.

What are you thinking? These are heavy books.

Simenon's Maigret books hold the attention, the language is not totally fossilised, and they are short enough to finish in a sitting or two. Certainly, I owe any fluency in French that I have to these little gems.

Last edited by gil; 4th Oct 2005 at 10:49.
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Old 4th Oct 2005, 11:02   #9
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Default Re: French lit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gil
What are you thinking? These are heavy books.

Simenon's Maigret books hold the attention, the language is not totally fossilised, and they are short enough to finish in a sitting or two. Certainly, I owe any fluency in French that I have to these little gems.
Well personally speaking I wouldn't choose to read a detective story in English so I don't see much reason for reading one in French!
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Old 4th Oct 2005, 11:40   #10
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Default Re: French lit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim
Well personally speaking I wouldn't choose to read a detective story in English so I don't see much reason for reading one in French!
Ah... Your loss.
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