[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

French literature

Parent categories: France - literature

Canon: Georges Bataille - Charles Baudelaire - Maurice Blanchot - Céline - Denis Diderot - Alain Robbe-Grillet - Michel Houellebecq - Georges Perec - Pauline Réage - Marquis de Sade - more ...

French literary criticism: Sainte-Beuve - Charles Baudelaire

Subgenres: The "frenetic" school of the 1820s/1830s - French pulp fiction - libertine novel - naturalism - nouveau roman - Oulipo (movement)

Publishing houses: Obelisk - Olympia - Eric Losfeld - Série Noire

During the 20th century, France has been more permissive than other countries in terms of censorship, and many important foreign language novels were originally published in France while being banned in America: Joyce's Ulysses (published by Sylvia Beach in Paris, 1922), Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (both published by Olympia Press), and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (published by Obelisk Press). Additionally, Paris has been the home-in-exile to two American literary movements: the lost generation and the beat generation. [Apr 2006]

Frontispice des Amours jaunes, dessin par Tristan Corbière
image sourced here.

In his 1913 essay The Serious Artist, Pound discusses two types of art; The "cult of beauty" and the "cult of ugliness". He compares the former with medical cure and the latter with medical diagnosis, and goes on to write "Villon, Baudelaire, Corbière, Beardsley are diagnosis." - "beauty is difficult": Cantos LXXIV, LXXX

Titles: Princess of Cleves (1678) - Le Sopha, conte moral (1742) - Thérèse Philosophe (1748) - Bijoux Indiscrets (1748) - The 120 Days of Sodom (1785) - La Religieuse (1796) - Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) - L'Histoire de Juliette (1797) - Les Fleurs du mal (1857) - Madame Bovary (1857) - À rebours (1884) - Dom Bougre (1741) - The Crimes Of Love (1800) - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) - Le Rouge et le Noir (1831) - Gamiani, ou Une Nuit d'Excès (1833) - Artifical Paradises (1850s) - Salammbô (1862) - Le Spleen de Paris (1869) - The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1874) - Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils) (1874) - La Bête Humaine (1890) - The She Devils (1898) - Torture Garden (1899) - Hell (1908) - Henri Barbusse - In Search of Lost Time (1913 -1927)

French Sadean tradition

'... the French tradition represented by Sade, Lautreamont, Bataille, and the authors of Story of O and The Image... suggests that "the obscene" is a primal notion of human consciousness, something much more profound than the backwash of a sick society's aversion to the body. Human sexuality is, quite apart from Christian repressions, a highly questionable phenomenon, and belongs, at least potentially, among the extreme rather than the ordinary experiences of humanity. Tamed as it may be, sexuality remains one of the demonic forces in human consciousness - pushing us at intervals close to taboo and dangerous desires, which range from the impulse to commit sudden arbitrary violence upon another person to the voluptuous yearning for the extinction of one's consciousness, for death itself." --Susan Sontag, The Pornographic Imagination (1967)

For Americans in the 1920s and 1930s

For Americans in the 1920s and 1930s (including the so-called "Lost Generation"), part of the fascination with France was also linked to freedom from Prohibition. For African-Americans in the twentieth century (such as James Baldwin), France was also more accepting of race and permitted greater freedom (in a similar way, jazz was embraced by the French faster than in some areas in America). A similar sense of freedom from political oppression or from intolerance (such as anti-homosexual discrimination) has drawn other authors and writers to France. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_literature_of_the_20th_century [May 2006]

The Beat Hotel was a small, run-down hotel

The Beat Hotel was a small, run-down hotel at 9 Rue Git-le-Coeur in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It gained fame through the extended 'family' of beat writers and artists who stayed there from the late 1950s to the early 1960s in a ferment of creativity.

Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky first stayed there in 1957 and were soon joined by William Burroughs and Gregory Corso. It was here that Burroughs completed the text of Naked Lunch and began his lifelong collaboration with Brion Gysin. It was also where Ian Sommerville became Burroughs' 'systems advisor' and lover. Gysin introduced Burroughs to the Cut-up technique and with Sommerville they experimented with a 'dream machine' and audio tape cut-ups. Ginsberg wrote his moving and mature poem Kaddish at the hotel and Corso wrote the Mushroom cloud shaped poem Bomb. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_Hotel [Jan 2006]

The French Dickens

Alphonse Daudet

Alphonse Daudet (1840 - 1897) is a French naturalist novelist, often called the French Dickens. This title is also attributed to Hugo and Balzac. A man dogged through life by misfortune and failure. Alphonse, amid much truancy, had a depressing boyhood. In 1856 he left Lyon, where his schooldays had been mainly spent, and began life as a schoolteacher at Alès, Gard, in the south of France. The position proved to be intolerable. As Dickens declared that all through his prosperous career he was haunted in dreams by the miseries of his apprenticeship to the blacking business, so Daudet says that for months after leaving Alès he would wake with horror thinking he was still among his unruly pupils.

Though Daudet defended himself from the charge of imitating Dickens, it is difficult altogether to believe that so many similarities of spirit and manner were quite unsought. What, however, was purely his own was his style. It is a style that may rightly be called "impressionist," full of light and colour, not descriptive after the old fashion, but flashing its intended effect by a masterly juxtaposition of words that are like pigments. Nor does it convey, like the style of the Goncourts, for example, a constant feeling of effort. It is full of felicity and charm, "un charmeur" Zola called him. An intimate friend of Edmond de Goncourt (who died in his house), of Flaubert, of Zola, Daudet belonged essentially to the naturalist school.

The naturalists delighted in description of vice and disease, the dram shop, the hospital and the brothel.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphonse_Daudet

Pages from the Goncourt Journals (1850s, 1860s) - The Goncourt brothers

In search of literary gossip

Pages from the Goncourt Journals (1850s, 1860s) - The Goncourt brothers
[FR] [DE] [UK]

The Goncourt brothers were Edmond de Goncourt and Jules de Goncourt, both French Naturalism writers. They jointly wrote their long Journal des Goncourt from 1851.

Substituting pathology for psychology, their impressionist style had an intense and original precision. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goncourt_brothers [Dec 2006]

Journey Around My Room (1794) - Xavier de Maistre

Journey Around My Room (1794) - Xavier de Maistre [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Xavier de Maistre (1763 – June 12, 1852) was a Savoyard military man. The younger brother of Joseph de Maistre, Xavier was born at Chambéry in October 1763. He served when young in the Piedmontese army, and wrote his delightful fantasy, Voyage autour de ma chambre (Journey Around My Room, published 1794) when he was under arrest at Turin in consequence of a duel.

His work is mentioned in British author Alain de Botton's book The Art of Travel (2002). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xavier_de_Maistre [Jul 2006]

"How glorious it is to open a new career, and to appear suddenly in the world of science with a book of discoveries in one's hand like an unexpected comet sparkling in space! Here is the book, gentleman. I have undertaken and carried out a journey of forty-two days in my room. The interesting observations I have made, and the continual pleasure I have felt during this long expedition, excited in me the wish to publish it; the certitude of the usefulness of my work decided me. My heart is filled with an inexpressible satisfaction when I think of the infinite number of unhappy persons to whom I am now able to offer an assured resource against the tediousness and vexations of life. The delight one finds in travelling in one's own room is a pure joy, exempt from the unquiet jealousies of men and independent of ill-fortune.

In the immense family of men that swarm on the surface of the earth, there is not one--no, not one (I am speaking, of course, of those who have a room to live in)--who can, after having read this book, refuse his approbation to the new way of travelling which I have invented. It costs nothing, that is the great thing! Thus it is certain of being adopted by very rich people! Thousands of persons who have never thought of travelling will now resolve to follow my example."

See also: French literature - 1790s - tourism - room

Missing Person (1978) - Patrick Modiano

Missing Person (1978) - Patrick Modiano
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Patrick Modiano is a French language novelist born July 30, 1945 in Boulogne-Billancourt of a father of Italian origins and a Belgian mother, Louisa Colpijn (actress). He is a winner of the Grand prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1972 and the Prix Goncourt in 1978.

A number of his novels have been adapted for film [1], Lacombe Lucien by Louis Malle probably being the most famous. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Modiano [Aug 2006]

From Booklist
Twenty-seven years after its original French publication [Rue des boutiques obscures] won the Prix Goncourt, this elliptical, engrossing rumination on the essence of identity and the search for self finally enjoys its first U.S. edition (which uses Weissbort's smooth 1980 English translation). Set in postwar Paris, it follows an amnesiac now known as Guy Roland, employed for the past decade by a kindly private investigator. When the PI retires, Roland sets out to lift the veil on his past. As he ably conducts this most personal of investigations, Roland begins to suspect that he may have employed multiple identities, leading a mysteriously compartmentalized existence. He may even have been fleeing the German occupation when his memory was wiped away. Roland's explorations bring home his mentor's observation that we all live in a world where "the sand keeps the traces of our footsteps only a few moments." Even as it opens the door to new mysteries, the enigmatic ending underscores the human drive to preserve those footsteps for as long as we draw breath. Frank Sennett --Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved [Aug 2006]

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications