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French literature () generally speaking, is literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional
languages of France Of the languages of France, French is the sole official language according to the second article of the French Constitution. French, a Gallo-Romance language, is spoken by nearly the entire population of France. In addition to French, several ...
other than French. Literature written in the French language, by citizens of other nations such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada,
Senegal Senegal,; Wolof: ''Senegaal''; Pulaar: 𞤅𞤫𞤲𞤫𞤺𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭 (Senegaali); Arabic: السنغال ''As-Sinighal'') officially the Republic of Senegal,; Wolof: ''Réewum Senegaal''; Pulaar : 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣 ...
,
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa , image_map2 = , capital = Tunis , largest_city = capital , ...
,
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , relig ...
,
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to ...
, etc. is referred to as Francophone literature. France itself ranks first on the list of Nobel Prizes in literature by country. For centuries, French literature has been an object of national pride for French people, and it has been one of the most influential components of the literature of Europe. One of the first known examples of French literature is the
Song of Roland ''The Song of Roland'' (french: La Chanson de Roland) is an 11th-century ''chanson de geste'' based on the Frankish military leader Roland at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778 AD, during the reign of the Carolingian king Charlemagne. It is ...
, the first major work in a series of poems known as, "
chansons de geste The ''chanson de geste'' (, from Latin 'deeds, actions accomplished') is a medieval narrative, a type of epic poem that appears at the dawn of French literature. The earliest known poems of this genre date from the late 11th and early 12th c ...
". The French language is a
Romance language The Romance languages, sometimes referred to as Latin languages or Neo-Latin languages, are the various modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin. They are the only extant subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European language ...
derived from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
and heavily influenced principally by Celtic and Frankish. Beginning in the 11th century, literature written in medieval French was one of the oldest vernacular (non-Latin) literatures in western Europe and it became a key source of literary themes in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
across the continent. Although the European prominence of French literature was eclipsed in part by vernacular literature in Italy in the 14th century, literature in France in the 16th century underwent a major creative evolution, and through the political and artistic programs of the
Ancien Régime ''Ancien'' may refer to * the French word for " ancient, old" ** Société des anciens textes français * the French for "former, senior" ** Virelai ancien A ''virelai'' is a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music. It is ...
, French literature came to dominate European letters in the 17th century. In the 18th century, French became the literary
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language systematically used to make communication possible between groups ...
and diplomatic language of western Europe (and, to a certain degree, in America), and French letters have had a profound impact on all European and American literary traditions while at the same time being heavily influenced by these other national traditions. Africa and the far East have brought the French language to non-European cultures that are transforming and adding to the French literary experience today. Under the aristocratic ideals of the Ancien Régime (the "honnête homme"), the nationalist spirit of post-revolutionary France, and the mass educational ideals of the Third Republic and modern France, the French have come to have a profound cultural attachment to their literary heritage. Today, French schools emphasize the study of novels, theater and poetry (often learnt by heart). The literary arts are heavily sponsored by the state and literary prizes are major news. The
Académie française An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary or tertiary higher learning (and generally also research or honorary membership). The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy ...
and the
Institut de France The (; ) is a French learned society, grouping five , including the Académie Française. It was established in 1795 at the direction of the National Convention. Located on the Quai de Conti in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, the institut ...
are important linguistic and artistic institutions in France, and French television features shows on writers and poets (one of the most watched shows on French television was '' Apostrophes'',Roger Cohen
"The Media Business; Books Star on TV, but Only in France"
, ''The New York Times'', September 10, 1990.
a weekly talk show on literature and the arts). Literature matters deeply to the people of France and plays an important role in their sense of identity. As of 2006, French literary people have been awarded more
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel's will of 1895, are awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind." Alfre ...
s in Literature than novelists, poets and essayists of any other country. In 1964
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialist, existentialism (and Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology), a French playwright, novelist, screenwriter ...
was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he declined it, stating that "It is not the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize winner. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form."


French Nobel Prize in Literature winners

For most of the 20th century, French authors had more Literature
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel's will of 1895, are awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind." Alfre ...
s than those of any other nation.National Literature Nobel Prize shares 1901–200
by citizenship at the time of the award
an

. From J. Schmidhuber (2010)
Evolution of National Nobel Prize Shares in the 20th Century
a
arXiv:1009.2634v1
The following French or French language authors have won a
Nobel Prize in Literature ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_for = Outstanding contributions in literature , presenter = Swedish Academy , holder = Annie Ernaux (2022) , location = Stockholm, Sweden , year = 1901 , ...
: *1901 –
Sully Prudhomme René François Armand "Sully" Prudhomme (; 16 March 1839 – 6 September 1907) was a French poet and essayist. He was the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901. Born in Paris, Prudhomme originally studied to be an engineer, bu ...
(The first Nobel Prize in Literature) *1904 – Frédéric Mistral (wrote in
Occitan Occitan may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the Occitania territory in parts of France, Italy, Monaco and Spain. * Something of, from, or related to the Occitania administrative region of France. * Occitan language, spoken in parts ...
) *1915 – Romain Rolland *1921 –
Anatole France (; born , ; 16 April 1844 – 12 October 1924) was a French poet, journalist, and novelist with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie Fran ...
*1927 –
Henri Bergson Henri-Louis Bergson (; 18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) was a French philosopherHenri Bergson. 2014. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 13 August 2014, from https://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/61856/Henri-Bergson
*1937 – Roger Martin du Gard *1947 –
André Gide André Paul Guillaume Gide (; 22 November 1869 – 19 February 1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1947). Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the symbolist movement, to the advent of anticolonialis ...
*1952 –
François Mauriac François Charles Mauriac (, oc, Francés Carles Mauriac; 11 October 1885 – 1 September 1970) was a French novelist, dramatist, critic, poet, and journalist, a member of the'' Académie française'' (from 1933), and laureate of the Nobel Prize ...
*1957 –
Albert Camus Albert Camus ( , ; ; 7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French philosopher, author, dramatist, and journalist. He was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, the second-youngest recipient in history. His work ...
*1960 –
Saint-John Perse Alexis Leger (; 31 May 1887 – 20 September 1975), better known by his pseudonym Saint-John Perse (; also Saint-Leger Leger), was a French poet-diplomat, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1960 "for the soaring flight and evocative i ...
*1964 –
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialist, existentialism (and Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology), a French playwright, novelist, screenwriter ...
(declined the prize) *1969 –
Samuel Beckett Samuel Barclay Beckett (; 13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish novelist, dramatist, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. His literary and theatrical work features bleak, impersonal and tragicomic exp ...
(Irish, wrote in English and French) *1985 –
Claude Simon Claude Simon (; 10 October 1913 – 6 July 2005) was a French novelist, and was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize in Literature. Biography Claude Simon was born in Tananarive on the isle of Madagascar. His parents were French, his father being a ...
*2008 – J. M. G. Le Clézio *2014 – Patrick Modiano *2022 - Annie Ernaux


French literary awards

* Grand Prix de Littérature Policière – created in 1948, for crime and detective fiction. * Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française – created 1918. * Prix Décembre – created in 1989. * Prix Femina – created 1904, decided each year by an exclusively female jury, although the authors of the winning works do not have to be women. * Prix Goncourt – created 1903, given to the author of "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year". * Prix Goncourt des Lycéens – created in 1987. * Prix Littéraire Valery Larbaud – created in 1957. *
Prix Médicis The Prix Médicis is a French literary award given each year in November. It was founded in 1958 by and . It is awarded to an author whose "fame does not yet match his talent." The award goes to a work of fiction in the French language. In 19 ...
– created 1958, awarded to an author whose "fame does not yet match their talent." * Prix Renaudot – created in 1926. * Prix Tour-Apollo Award – 1972–1990, given to the best science fiction novel published in French during the preceding year. *
Prix des Deux Magots The Prix des Deux Magots is a major French literary prize. It is presented to new works, and is generally awarded to works that are more off-beat and less conventional than those that receive the more mainstream Prix Goncourt. The name derives fro ...
– created in 1933.


Key texts


Fiction

*
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
** anonymous – ''La Chanson de Roland'' (''
The Song of Roland ''The Song of Roland'' (french: La Chanson de Roland) is an 11th-century '' chanson de geste'' based on the Frankish military leader Roland at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778 AD, during the reign of the Carolingian king Charlemagne. It i ...
'') **
Chrétien de Troyes Chrétien de Troyes (Modern ; fro, Crestien de Troies ; 1160–1191) was a French poet and trouvère known for his writing on Arthurian subjects, and for first writing of Lancelot, Percival and the Holy Grail. Chrétien's works, including ...
– ''Yvain ou le Chevalier au Lion'' (''
Yvain, the Knight of the Lion , original_title_lang = fro , translator = , written = between 1178 and 1181 , country = , language = Old French , subject = Arthurian legend , genre = Chivalric romance , fo ...
''), ''Lancelot, ou le Chevalier à la charrette'' (''
Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart , original_title_lang = fro , translator = , written = between 1177 and 1181 , country = , language = Old French , subject = Arthurian legend , genre = Chivalric romance , fo ...
'') ** various – ''Tristan et Iseult'' (''
Tristan and Iseult Tristan and Iseult, also known as Tristan and Isolde and other names, is a medieval chivalric romance told in numerous variations since the 12th century. Based on a Celtic legend and possibly other sources, the tale is a tragedy about the illi ...
'') ** anonymous – ''Lancelot-Graal'' ''(
Lancelot-Grail The ''Lancelot-Grail'', also known as the Vulgate Cycle or the Pseudo-Map Cycle, is an early 13th-century French Arthurian literary cycle consisting of interconnected prose episodes of chivalric romance in Old French. The cycle of unknown author ...
)'', also known as the ''prose Lancelot'' or the ''Vulgate Cycle'' **
Guillaume de Lorris Guillaume de Lorris (c. 1200c. 1240) was a French scholar and poet from Lorris. He was the author of the first section of the ''Roman de la Rose''. Little is known about him, other than that he wrote the earlier section of the poem around 1230, ...
and Jean de Meung – ''
Roman de la Rose ''Le Roman de la Rose'' (''The Romance of the Rose'') is a medieval poem written in Old French and presented as an allegorical dream vision. As poetry, ''The Romance of the Rose'' is a notable instance of courtly literature, purporting to prov ...
'' ("Romance of the Rose") **
Christine de Pizan Christine de Pizan or Pisan (), born Cristina da Pizzano (September 1364 – c. 1430), was an Italian poet and court writer for King Charles VI of France and several French dukes. Christine de Pizan served as a court writer in medieval France ...
– "
The Book of the City of Ladies ''The Book of the City of Ladies'' or ''Le Livre de la Cité des Dames'' (finished by 1405), is perhaps Christine de Pizan's most famous literary work, and it is her second work of lengthy prose. Pizan uses the vernacular French language to compo ...
" *
16th century The 16th century begins with the Julian year 1501 ( MDI) and ends with either the Julian or the Gregorian year 1600 ( MDC) (depending on the reckoning used; the Gregorian calendar introduced a lapse of 10 days in October 1582). The 16th cent ...
**
François Rabelais François Rabelais ( , , ; born between 1483 and 1494; died 1553) was a French Renaissance writer, physician, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He is primarily known as a writer of satire, of the grotesque, and of bawdy jokes an ...
– ''La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel'' ("
Gargantua and Pantagruel ''The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel'' (french: La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel) is a pentalogy of novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais, telling the adventures of two giants, Gargantua ( , ) and his son Pantagrue ...
") * 17th century **
Honoré d'Urfé Honoré d'Urfé, marquis de Valromey, comte de Châteauneuf (11 February 15681 June 1625) was a French novelist and miscellaneous writer. Life He was born at Marseille, the grandson of Claude d'Urfé, and was educated at the Collège de To ...
– ''
L'Astrée ''L'Astrée'' is a pastoral novel by Honoré d'Urfé, published between 1607 and 1627. Possibly the single most influential work of 17th-century French literature, ''L'Astrée'' has been called the "novel of novels", partly for its immense leng ...
'' ** Madame de Lafayette – ''
La Princesse de Clèves ''La Princesse de Clèves'' is a French novel which was published anonymously in March 1678. It was regarded by many as the beginning of the modern tradition of the psychological novel and a classic work. Its author is generally held to be Mad ...
'' *
18th century The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 ( MDCCI) to December 31, 1800 ( MDCCC). During the 18th century, elements of Enlightenment thinking culminated in the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions. During the century, slave trad ...
**
Abbé Prévost Antoine François Prévost d'Exiles ( , , ; 1 April 169725 November 1763), usually known simply as the Abbé Prévost, was a French priest, author, and novelist. Life and works He was born at Hesdin, Artois, and first appears with the full nam ...
– ''
Manon Lescaut ''The Story of the Chevalier des Grieux and Manon Lescaut'' ( ) is a novel by Antoine François Prévost. Published in 1731, it is the seventh and final volume of ''Mémoires et aventures d'un homme de qualité'' (''Memoirs and Adventures of a M ...
'' **
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778) was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. Known by his '' nom de plume'' M. de Voltaire (; also ; ), he was famous for his wit, and his criticism of Christianity— ...
– ''
Candide ( , ) is a French satire written by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment, first published in 1759. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled ''Candide: or, All for the Best'' (1759); ''Candide: or, T ...
'', '' Zadig ou la Destinée'' **
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Rev ...
– ''
Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse ''Julie; or, The New Heloise'' (french: Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse), originally entitled ''Lettres de Deux Amans, Habitans d'une petite Ville au pied des Alpes'' ("Letters from two lovers, living in a small town at the foot of the Alps"), is ...
'' **
Denis Diderot Denis Diderot (; ; 5 October 171331 July 1784) was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer, best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor, and contributor to the '' Encyclopédie'' along with Jean le Rond d'Alembert. He was a promine ...
– ''Jacques le fataliste'' ('' Jacques the Fatalist'') **
Montesquieu Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (; ; 18 January 168910 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French judge, man of letters, historian, and political philosopher. He is the princip ...
– '' Persian Letters'' ** Pierre Choderlos de Laclos – ''
Les Liaisons dangereuses ''Les Liaisons dangereuses'' (; English: ''Dangerous Liaisons'') is a French epistolary novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, first published in four volumes by Durand Neveu from March 23, 1782. It is the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and ...
'' **
Marquis de Sade Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (; 2 June 1740 – 2 December 1814), was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer famous for his literary depictions of a libertine sexuality as well as numerous accusat ...
– ''
Justine (Sade) ''Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue'' (French: ''Justine, ou Les Malheurs de la Vertu'') is a 1791 novel by Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, better known as the Marquis de Sade. ''Justine'' is set just before the French Revolution in Fra ...
'' *
19th century The 19th (nineteenth) century began on 1 January 1801 ( MDCCCI), and ended on 31 December 1900 ( MCM). The 19th century was the ninth century of the 2nd millennium. The 19th century was characterized by vast social upheaval. Slavery was abolis ...
** François-René de Chateaubriand – ''Atala'', '' René'' **
Benjamin Constant Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (; 25 October 1767 – 8 December 1830), or simply Benjamin Constant, was a Franco- Swiss political thinker, activist and writer on political theory and religion. A committed republican from 1795, he backed ...
– ''
Adolphe ''Adolphe'' is a classic French novel by Benjamin Constant, first published in 1816. It tells the story of an alienated young man, Adolphe, who falls in love with an older woman, Ellénore, the Polish mistress of the Comte de P***. Their illicit ...
'' **
Stendhal Marie-Henri Beyle (; 23 January 1783 – 23 March 1842), better known by his pen name Stendhal (, ; ), was a 19th-century French writer. Best known for the novels ''Le Rouge et le Noir'' ('' The Red and the Black'', 1830) and ''La Chartreuse de ...
– ''Le Rouge et le Noir'' (''
The Red and the Black ''Le Rouge et le Noir'' (; meaning ''The Red and the Black'') is a historical psychological novel in two volumes by Stendhal, published in 1830. It chronicles the attempts of a provincial young man to rise socially beyond his modest upbringing t ...
''), ''La Chartreuse de Parme'' ('' The Charterhouse of Parma'') **
Honoré de Balzac Honoré de Balzac ( , more commonly , ; born Honoré Balzac;Jean-Louis Dega, La vie prodigieuse de Bernard-François Balssa, père d'Honoré de Balzac : Aux sources historiques de La Comédie humaine, Rodez, Subervie, 1998, 665 p. 20 May 179 ...
– '' La Comédie humaine'' ("The Human Comedy", a novel cycle which includes '' Père Goriot'', '' Lost Illusions'', and ''
Eugénie Grandet ''Eugénie Grandet'' is a novel first published in 1833 by French author Honoré de Balzac. While he was writing it he conceived his ambitious project, ''La Comédie humaine'', and almost immediately prepared a second edition, revising the names ...
'') **
Alexandre Dumas Alexandre Dumas (, ; ; born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (), 24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas père (where '' '' is French for 'father', to distinguish him from his son Alexandre Dumas fils), was a French writer ...
– ''
The Count of Monte Cristo ''The Count of Monte Cristo'' (french: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel written by French author Alexandre Dumas (''père'') completed in 1844. It is one of the author's more popular works, along with ''The Three Musketeers''. Li ...
'', ''
The Three Musketeers ''The Three Musketeers'' (french: Les Trois Mousquetaires, links=no, ) is a French historical adventure novel written in 1844 by French author Alexandre Dumas. It is in the swashbuckler genre, which has heroic, chivalrous swordsmen who fight f ...
'' **
Victor Hugo Victor-Marie Hugo (; 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French Romantic writer and politician. During a literary career that spanned more than sixty years, he wrote in a variety of genres and forms. He is considered to be one of the grea ...
– ''Notre Dame de Paris'' ('' The Hunchback of Notre Dame''), ''
Les Misérables ''Les Misérables'' ( , ) is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. In the English-speaking world, the novel is usually referred to by its origin ...
'' **
Théophile Gautier Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier ( , ; 30 August 1811 – 23 October 1872) was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and art and literary critic. While an ardent defender of Romanticism, Gautier's work is difficult to classify and rem ...
– '' Mademoiselle de Maupin'' **
Gustave Flaubert Gustave Flaubert ( , , ; 12 December 1821 – 8 May 1880) was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. According to the literary theorist Kornelije Kvas, "in Flauber ...
– ''
Madame Bovary ''Madame Bovary'' (; ), originally published as ''Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners'' ( ), is a novel by French writer Gustave Flaubert, published in 1856. The eponymous character lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emp ...
'', '' Salammbô'', ''L'Éducation sentimentale'' ('' Sentimental Education'') **
Jules Verne Jules Gabriel Verne (;'' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary''. ; 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the ''Voyages extrao ...
– ''Vingt mille lieues sous les mers'' (''
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ''Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas'' (french: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a classic science fiction adventure novel by French writer Jules Verne. The novel was originally serialized from March 1869 through June 1870 in Pierre- ...
''), ''Voyage au centre de la Terre'' ('' A Journey to the Center of the Earth''), ''Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours'' ('' Around the World in Eighty Days'') ** Edmond and
Jules de Goncourt Jules Alfred Huot de Goncourt (; 17 December 183020 June 1870) was a French writer, who published books together with his brother Edmond. Jules was born and died in Paris. His death at the age of 39 was at Auteuil-Neuilly-Passy of a stroke b ...
– ''Germinie Lacerteux'' **
George Sand Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin de Francueil (; 1 July 1804 – 8 June 1876), best known by her pen name George Sand (), was a French novelist, memoirist and journalist. One of the most popular writers in Europe in her lifetime, bein ...
– '' La Petite Fadette'' **
Guy de Maupassant Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (, ; ; 5 August 1850 – 6 July 1893) was a 19th-century French author, remembered as a master of the short story form, as well as a representative of the Naturalist school, who depicted human lives, destin ...
– '' Bel Ami'', ''La Parure'' ('' The Necklace''), other short stories **
Émile Zola Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (, also , ; 2 April 184029 September 1902) was a French novelist, journalist, playwright, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of ...
– '' Thérèse Raquin'', '' Les Rougon-Macquart'' (a novel cycle which includes '' L'Assommoir'', '' Nana'' and '' Germinal'') *
20th century The 20th (twentieth) century began on January 1, 1901 ( MCMI), and ended on December 31, 2000 ( MM). The 20th century was dominated by significant events that defined the modern era: Spanish flu pandemic, World War I and World War II, nuclea ...
**
André Gide André Paul Guillaume Gide (; 22 November 1869 – 19 February 1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1947). Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the symbolist movement, to the advent of anticolonialis ...
– ''Les Faux-monnayeurs'' ('' The Counterfeiters''), ''L'Immoraliste'' ('' The Immoralist'') **
Marcel Proust Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (; ; 10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist, critic, and essayist who wrote the monumental novel ''In Search of Lost Time'' (''À la recherche du temps perdu''; with the previous En ...
– ''À la recherche du temps perdu'' (''
In Search of Lost Time ''In Search of Lost Time'' (french: À la recherche du temps perdu), first translated into English as ''Remembrance of Things Past'', and sometimes referred to in French as ''La Recherche'' (''The Search''), is a novel in seven volumes by French ...
'') ** Albert Cohen **
François Mauriac François Charles Mauriac (, oc, Francés Carles Mauriac; 11 October 1885 – 1 September 1970) was a French novelist, dramatist, critic, poet, and journalist, a member of the'' Académie française'' (from 1933), and laureate of the Nobel Prize ...
**
Louis Aragon Louis Aragon (, , 3 October 1897 – 24 December 1982) was a French poet who was one of the leading voices of the surrealist movement in France. He co-founded with André Breton and Philippe Soupault the surrealist review '' Littérature''. He ...
**
Blaise Cendrars Frédéric-Louis Sauser (1 September 1887 – 21 January 1961), better known as Blaise Cendrars, was a Swiss-born novelist and poet who became a naturalized French citizen in 1916. He was a writer of considerable influence in the European mod ...
**
André Breton André Robert Breton (; 19 February 1896 – 28 September 1966) was a French writer and poet, the co-founder, leader, and principal theorist of surrealism. His writings include the first '' Surrealist Manifesto'' (''Manifeste du surréalisme'') ...
– '' Nadja'' **
Gaston Leroux Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux (6 May 186815 April 1927) was a French journalist and author of detective fiction. In the English-speaking world, he is best known for writing the novel ''The Phantom of the Opera'' (french: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, ...
– ''Le Fantôme de l'Opéra'' (''
The Phantom of the Opera ''The Phantom of the Opera'' (french: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra) is a novel by French author Gaston Leroux. It was first published as a serial in from 23 September 1909 to 8 January 1910, and was released in volume form in late March 1910 by Pier ...
'') ** Roger Martin du Gard – ''Les Thibault'' ('' The Thibaults'') **
Louis-Ferdinand Céline Louis Ferdinand Auguste Destouches (27 May 1894 – 1 July 1961), better known by the pen name Louis-Ferdinand Céline ( , ) was a French novelist, polemicist and physician. His first novel '' Journey to the End of the Night'' (1932) won the '' ...
– ''Voyage au bout de la nuit'' ('' Journey to the End of the Night'') ** Colette – '' Gigi'' **
Jean Genet Jean Genet (; – ) was a French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. In his early life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but he later became a writer and playwright. His major works include the novels '' The Thief' ...
– '' Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs'' **
Julien Gracq Julien Gracq (; 27 July 1910 – 22 December 2007; born Louis Poirier in Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, in the French ''département'' of Maine-et-Loire) was a French writer. He wrote novels, critiques, a play, and poetry. His literary works were not ...
– ''Le Rivage des Syrtes'' ('' The Opposing Shore'') **
André Malraux Georges André Malraux ( , ; 3 November 1901 – 23 November 1976) was a French novelist, art theorist, and minister of cultural affairs. Malraux's novel ''La Condition Humaine'' ( Man's Fate) (1933) won the Prix Goncourt. He was appointed by ...
– ''La Condition Humaine'' ('' Man's Fate''), ''L'Espoir'' ('' Man's Hope'') **
Albert Camus Albert Camus ( , ; ; 7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French philosopher, author, dramatist, and journalist. He was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, the second-youngest recipient in history. His work ...
– ''L'Étranger'' ('' The Stranger'' or ''The Outsider'') ** Michel Butor – '' La Modification'' **
Marguerite Yourcenar Marguerite Yourcenar (, , ; born Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie Ghislaine Cleenewerck de Crayencour; 8 June 1903 – 17 December 1987) was a Belgian-born French novelist and essayist, who became a US citizen in 1947. Winner of the '' Prix Fe ...
– '' Mémoires d'Hadrien'' ** Alain Robbe-Grillet – ''Dans le labyrinthe'' **
Georges Perec Georges Perec (; 7 March 1936 – 3 March 1982) was a French novelist, filmmaker, documentalist, and essayist. He was a member of the Oulipo group. His father died as a soldier early in the Second World War and his mother was killed in the Hol ...
– '' La vie mode d'emploi'' **
Claude Simon Claude Simon (; 10 October 1913 – 6 July 2005) was a French novelist, and was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize in Literature. Biography Claude Simon was born in Tananarive on the isle of Madagascar. His parents were French, his father being a ...
- ''Les Géorgiques'' (''The Georgics'') ** Robert Pinget – '' Passacaille'' **
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialist, existentialism (and Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology), a French playwright, novelist, screenwriter ...
– ''La Nausée'' (''
Nausea Nausea is a diffuse sensation of unease and discomfort, sometimes perceived as an urge to vomit. While not painful, it can be a debilitating symptom if prolonged and has been described as placing discomfort on the chest, abdomen, or back of th ...
''), ''L´Âge de Raison'' ''( The Age of Reason)'' **
Françoise Sagan Françoise Sagan (born Françoise Delphine Quoirez; 21 June 1935 – 24 September 2004) was a French playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. Sagan was known for works with strong romantic themes involving wealthy and disillusioned bourgeois chara ...
– '' Bonjour Tristesse'' (''Hello Sadness'') **
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint-Exupéry, simply known as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (, , ; 29 June 1900 – 31 July 1944), was a French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist and pioneering aviator. He became a laureate of s ...
– '' Le Petit Prince'' (''The Little Prince'') *
21st century The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century in the ''Anno Domini'' era or Common Era, under the Gregorian calendar. It began on 1 January 2001 ( MMI) and will end on 31 December 2100 ( MMC). Marking the beginning of the 21st cent ...
**
Michel Houellebecq Michel Houellebecq (; born Michel Thomas, 26 February 1956 or 1958) is a French author, known for his novels, poems and essays, as well as an occasional actor, filmmaker and singer. His first book was a biographical essay on the horror writer ...
– ''La carte et le territoire'' ('' The Map and the Territory'') ** Léonora Miano – ''La Saison de l'ombre'' **
Kamel Daoud Kamel Daoud ( ar, كمال داود; born June 17, 1970) is a French-Algerian writer and journalist. He currently edits the French-language daily '' Le quotidien d’Oran,'' for which he writes a popular column, "Raïna Raïkoum" (Our Opinion, Y ...
– ''Meursault, contre-enquête'' ('' The Meursault Investigation'')


Poetry

* Middle Ages ** William IX (1071–1127) **
Jaufre Rudel Jaufre Rudel (Jaufré in modern Occitan) was the Prince of Blaye (''Princes de Blaia'') and a troubadour of the early- to mid-12th century, who probably died during the Second Crusade, in or after 1147. He is noted for developing the theme of " ...
(1113–70) ** Bernart de Ventadorn (1130–90) **
Bertran de Born Bertran de Born (; 1140s – by 1215) was a baron from the Limousin in France, and one of the major Occitan troubadours of the 12th-13th century. He composed love songs (cansos) but was better known for his political songs (sirventes). He w ...
(1140–1215) ** Rutebeuf (1245–85) **
Jean Froissart Jean Froissart (Old and Middle French: ''Jehan'', – ) (also John Froissart) was a French-speaking medieval author and court historian from the Low Countries who wrote several works, including ''Chronicles'' and ''Meliador'', a long Arthurian ...
(1337–1405) **
François Villon François Villon (Modern French: , ; – after 1463) is the best known French poet of the Late Middle Ages. He was involved in criminal behavior and had multiple encounters with law enforcement authorities. Villon wrote about some of these e ...
(1431–63) – '' Le Testament'' * La Pléiade **
Clément Marot Clément Marot (23 November 1496 – 12 September 1544) was a French Renaissance poet. Biography Youth Marot was born at Cahors, the capital of the province of Quercy, some time during the winter of 1496–1497. His father, Jean Marot (c. ...
(1496–1544) **
Joachim du Bellay Joachim du Bellay (; – 1 January 1560) was a French poet, critic, and a founder of the Pléiade. He notably wrote the manifesto of the group: '' Défense et illustration de la langue française'', which aimed at promoting French as an a ...
(1522–60) **
Pontus de Tyard Pontus de Tyard (also Thyard, Thiard) (c. 1521 – 23 September 1605) was a French poet and priest, a member of " La Pléiade". Life He was born at Bissy-sur-Fley in Burgundy, of which he was ''seigneur'', but the exact year of his birth is ...
(1521–1605) **
Pierre de Ronsard Pierre de Ronsard (; 11 September 1524 – 27 December 1585) was a French poet or, as his own generation in France called him, a " prince of poets". Early life Pierre de Ronsard was born at the Manoir de la Possonnière, in the village of ...
(1524–85) *
Baroque The Baroque (, ; ) is a style of architecture, music, dance, painting, sculpture, poetry, and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th century until the 1750s. In the territories of the Spanish and Portuguese empires including t ...
** Agrippa d'Aubigné (1552–1630) – ''Les Tragiques'' ** Théophile de Viau (1590–1626) *
Classicism Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for a classical period, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. In its purest form, classicism is an aestheti ...
** François de Malherbe (1555–1628) **
Jean de La Fontaine Jean de La Fontaine (, , ; 8 July 162113 April 1695) was a French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century. He is known above all for his ''Fables'', which provided a model for subsequent fabulists across Eur ...
(1621–95) – ''The
Fables Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized, and that illustrates or leads to a particular mor ...
'' **
Nicolas Boileau Nicolas or Nicolás may refer to: People Given name * Nicolas (given name) Mononym * Nicolas (footballer, born 1999), Brazilian footballer * Nicolas (footballer, born 2000), Brazilian footballer Surname Nicolas * Dafydd Nicolas (c.1705–1774), ...
(1636–1711) * Romantism **
André Chénier André Marie Chénier (; 30 October 176225 July 1794) was a French poet of Greek and Franco-Levantine origin, associated with the events of the French Revolution of which he was a victim. His sensual, emotive poetry marks him as one of the precu ...
(1762–1794) **
Alphonse de Lamartine Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine (; 21 October 179028 February 1869), was a French author, poet, and statesman who was instrumental in the foundation of the Second Republic and the continuation of the Tricolore as the flag of France. ...
(1790–1869) – ''Méditations poétiques'' **
Alfred de Vigny Alfred Victor, Comte de Vigny (27 March 1797 – 17 September 1863) was a French poet and early French Romanticist. He also produced novels, plays, and translations of Shakespeare. Biography Vigny was born in Loches (a town to which he never r ...
(1797–1863) **
Victor Hugo Victor-Marie Hugo (; 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French Romantic writer and politician. During a literary career that spanned more than sixty years, he wrote in a variety of genres and forms. He is considered to be one of the grea ...
(1802–85) – '' Les Contemplations'' **
Gérard de Nerval Gérard de Nerval (; 22 May 1808 – 26 January 1855) was the pen name of the French writer, poet, and translator Gérard Labrunie, a major figure of French romanticism, best known for his novellas and poems, especially the collection '' Les Fi ...
(1808–55) – ''
The Chimeras ''The Chimeras'' (french: Les Chimères) is a sequence of sonnets by the French writer Gérard de Nerval, made up of eight individual poems and a total of twelve sonnets. The poems are: "El Desdichado", "Myrtho", "Horus", "Anteros", " Delphica", ...
'' **
Alfred de Musset Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay (; 11 December 1810 – 2 May 1857) was a French dramatist, poet, and novelist.His names are often reversed "Louis Charles Alfred de Musset": see "(Louis Charles) Alfred de Musset" (bio), Biography.com, 2007 ...
(1810–57) **
Charles Baudelaire Charles Pierre Baudelaire (, ; ; 9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist and art critic. His poems exhibit mastery in the handling of rhyme and rhythm, contain an exoticism inherited fr ...
(1821–67) – ''
Les Fleurs du mal ''Les Fleurs du mal'' (; en, The Flowers of Evil, italic=yes) is a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire. ''Les Fleurs du mal'' includes nearly all Baudelaire's poetry, written from 1840 until his death in August 1867. First publish ...
'' *
Parnassianism Parnassianism (or Parnassism) was a French literary style that began during the positivist period of the 19th century, occurring after romanticism and prior to symbolism. The style was influenced by the author Théophile Gautier as well as b ...
**
Théophile Gautier Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier ( , ; 30 August 1811 – 23 October 1872) was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and art and literary critic. While an ardent defender of Romanticism, Gautier's work is difficult to classify and rem ...
(1811–72) **
Leconte de Lisle Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle (; 22 October 1818 – 17 July 1894) was a French poet of the Parnassian movement. He is traditionally known by his surname only, Leconte de Lisle''. Biography Leconte de Lisle was born on the French overseas ...
(1818–94) ** Théodore de Banville (1823–91) * Symbolism and
Decadence The word decadence, which at first meant simply "decline" in an abstract sense, is now most often used to refer to a perceived decay in standards, morals, dignity, religious faith, honor, discipline, or skill at governing among the members o ...
** Villiers de L'Isle-Adam (1838–89) **
Stéphane Mallarmé Stéphane Mallarmé ( , ; 18 March 1842 – 9 September 1898), pen name of Étienne Mallarmé, was a French poet and critic. He was a major French symbolist poet, and his work anticipated and inspired several revolutionary artistic schools of ...
(1842–98) **
Paul Verlaine Paul-Marie Verlaine (; ; 30 March 1844 – 8 January 1896) was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement and the Decadent movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the ''fin de siècle'' in international an ...
(1844–96) **
Comte de Lautréamont Comte de Lautréamont () was the ''nom de plume'' of Isidore Lucien Ducasse (4 April 1846 – 24 November 1870), a French poet born in Uruguay. His only works, '' Les Chants de Maldoror'' and ''Poésies'', had a major influence on modern art ...
(1846–70) **
Arthur Rimbaud Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (, ; 20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet known for his transgressive and surreal themes and for his influence on modern literature and arts, prefiguring surrealism. Born in Charleville, he sta ...
(1854–91) – '' Une Saison en Enfer'' **
Paul Valéry Ambroise Paul Toussaint Jules Valéry (; 30 October 1871 – 20 July 1945) was a French poet, essayist, and philosopher. In addition to his poetry and fiction (drama and dialogues), his interests included aphorisms on art, history, letters, mu ...
(1871–1945) **
Paul Fort Jules-Jean-Paul Fort (1 February 1872 – 20 April 1960) was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. At the age of 18, reacting against the Naturalistic theatre, Fort founded the Théâtre d'Art (1890–93). He also founded and edi ...
(1872–1960) *
Modernism Modernism is both a philosophy, philosophical and arts movement that arose from broad transformations in Western world, Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement reflected a desire for the creation of new fo ...
** Charles Péguy (1873–1914) **
Guillaume Apollinaire Guillaume Apollinaire) of the Wąż coat of arms. (; 26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918) was a French French poetry, poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic of Polish-Belarusian, Polish descent. Apollinaire is considered ...
(1880–1918) – ''Alcools'' **
Blaise Cendrars Frédéric-Louis Sauser (1 September 1887 – 21 January 1961), better known as Blaise Cendrars, was a Swiss-born novelist and poet who became a naturalized French citizen in 1916. He was a writer of considerable influence in the European mod ...
(1887–1961) **
Saint-John Perse Alexis Leger (; 31 May 1887 – 20 September 1975), better known by his pseudonym Saint-John Perse (; also Saint-Leger Leger), was a French poet-diplomat, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1960 "for the soaring flight and evocative i ...
(1887–1975) – ''Vents'' *
Dada Dada () or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centres in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (in 1916). New York Dada began c. 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris ...
and
Surrealism Surrealism is a cultural movement that developed in Europe in the aftermath of World War I in which artists depicted unnerving, illogical scenes and developed techniques to allow the unconscious mind to express itself. Its aim was, according to l ...
**
Paul Éluard Paul Éluard (), born Eugène Émile Paul Grindel (; 14 December 1895 – 18 November 1952), was a French poet and one of the founders of the Surrealist movement. In 1916, he chose the name Paul Éluard, a matronymic borrowed from his maternal ...
(1895-1952) **
Tristan Tzara Tristan Tzara (; ; born Samuel or Samy Rosenstock, also known as S. Samyro; – 25 December 1963) was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. Also active as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, comp ...
(1896–1963) **
André Breton André Robert Breton (; 19 February 1896 – 28 September 1966) was a French writer and poet, the co-founder, leader, and principal theorist of surrealism. His writings include the first '' Surrealist Manifesto'' (''Manifeste du surréalisme'') ...
(1896–1966) **
Louis Aragon Louis Aragon (, , 3 October 1897 – 24 December 1982) was a French poet who was one of the leading voices of the surrealist movement in France. He co-founded with André Breton and Philippe Soupault the surrealist review '' Littérature''. He ...
(1897–1982) ** Henri Michaux (1899–1984) ** Robert Desnos (1900–45) ** René Char (1907–88) *
Postmodernism Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourseNuyen, A.T., 1992. The Role of Rhetorical Devices in Postmodernist Discourse. Philosophy & Rhetoric, pp.183–194. characterized by skepticism toward the " grand narratives" of modern ...
**
Jules Supervielle Jules Supervielle (16 January 1884 – 17 May 1960) was a Franco-Uruguayan poet and writer born in Montevideo. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times. He opposed the surrealism movement in poetry and rejected automatic wri ...
(1884–1960) **
Jean Cocteau Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (, , ; 5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker, visual artist and critic. He was one of the foremost creatives of the s ...
(1889–1963) **
Francis Ponge Francis Jean Gaston Alfred Ponge (; 27 March 1899 – 6 August 1988) was a French essayist and poet. Influenced by surrealism, he developed a form of prose poem, minutely examining everyday objects. He was the third recipient of the Neustadt Inte ...
(1899–1988) – ''Le Parti Pris des Choses'' ** Jacques Prévert (1900–77) **
Raymond Queneau Raymond Queneau (; 21 February 1903 – 25 October 1976) was a French novelist, poet, critic, editor and co-founder and president of Oulipo ('' Ouvroir de littérature potentielle''), notable for his wit and cynical humour. Biography Queneau wa ...
(1903–76) *
Négritude ''Négritude'' (from French "Nègre" and "-itude" to denote a condition that can be translated as "Blackness") is a framework of critique and literary theory, developed mainly by francophone intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African ...
**
Léopold Sédar Senghor Léopold Sédar Senghor (; ; 9 October 1906 – 20 December 2001) was a Senegalese poet, politician and cultural theorist who was the first president of Senegal (1960–80). Ideologically an African socialist, he was the major theoretician o ...
(1906–2001) ** Birago Diop (1906–89) **
Aimé Césaire Aimé Fernand David Césaire (; ; 26 June 1913 – 17 April 2008) was a French poet, author, and politician. He was "one of the founders of the Négritude movement in Francophone literature" and coined the word in French. He founded the Par ...
(1913–2008)


Theatre

*
Pierre Corneille Pierre Corneille (; 6 June 1606 – 1 October 1684) was a French tragedian. He is generally considered one of the three great seventeenth-century French dramatists, along with Molière and Racine. As a young man, he earned the valuable patronag ...
(1606–84)- ''
Le Cid ''Le Cid'' is a five-act French tragicomedy written by Pierre Corneille, first performed in December 1636 at the Théâtre du Marais in Paris and published the same year. It is based on Guillén de Castro's play ''Las Mocedades del Cid''. Castr ...
'' (1636), ''
Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus (; 8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (), was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetorician Quintilian regarded his ...
'' *
Molière Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (, ; 15 January 1622 (baptised) – 17 February 1673), known by his stage name Molière (, , ), was a French playwright, actor, and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and worl ...
– ''
Tartuffe ''Tartuffe, or The Impostor, or The Hypocrite'' (; french: Tartuffe, ou l'Imposteur, ), first performed in 1664, is a theatrical comedy by Molière. The characters of Tartuffe, Elmire, and Orgon are considered among the greatest classical th ...
'', ''
Le Misanthrope ''The Misanthrope, or the Cantankerous Lover'' (french: Le Misanthrope ou l'Atrabilaire amoureux; ) is a 17th-century comedy of manners in verse written by Molière. It was first performed on 4 June 1666 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris b ...
'', '' Dom Juan'', ''L'Avare'' ('' The Miser''), ''
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme ''Le Bourgeois gentilhomme'' (, translated as ''The Bourgeois Gentleman'', ''The Middle-Class Aristocrat'', or ''The Would-Be Noble'') is a five-act '' comédie-ballet'' – a play intermingled with music, dance and singing – written by Molièr ...
'', ''L'École des femmes'' ('' The School for Wives''), ''Le Malade imaginaire'' (''
The Imaginary Invalid ''The Imaginary Invalid'', ''The Hypochondriac'', or ''The Would-Be Invalid'' ( French title ''Le Malade imaginaire'', ) is a three- act ''comédie-ballet'' by the French playwright Molière with dance sequences and musical interludes (H.495, H. ...
'') *
Jean Racine Jean-Baptiste Racine ( , ) (; 22 December 163921 April 1699) was a French dramatist, one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, along with Molière and Corneille as well as an important literary figure in the Western traditi ...
– ''
Phèdre ''Phèdre'' (; originally ''Phèdre et Hippolyte'') is a French dramatic tragedy in five acts written in alexandrine verse by Jean Racine, first performed in 1677 at the theatre of the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris. Composition and premiere Wit ...
'', ''
Andromaque ''Andromaque'' is a tragedy in five acts by the French playwright Jean Racine written in alexandrine verse. It was first performed on 17 November 1667 before the court of Louis XIV in the Louvre in the private chambers of the Queen, Marie Thér ...
'', '' Bérénice'', ''
Athalie ''Athalie'' (, sometimes translated ''Athalia'') is a 1691 play, the final tragedy of Jean Racine, and has been described as the masterpiece of "one of the greatest literary artists known" and the "ripest work" of Racine's genius. Charles August ...
'' * Marivaux – ''Jeu de l'amour et du hasard'' *
Beaumarchais Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (; 24 January 1732 – 18 May 1799) was a French polymath. At various times in his life, he was a watchmaker, inventor, playwright, musician, diplomat, spy, publisher, horticulturist, arms dealer, satirist, ...
– ''Le Barbier de Séville'' (''
The Barber of Seville ''The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution'' ( it, Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L'inutile precauzione ) is an ''opera buffa'' in two acts composed by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was base ...
''), ''La Folle journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro'' (
The Marriage of Figaro ''The Marriage of Figaro'' ( it, Le nozze di Figaro, links=no, ), K. 492, is a ''commedia per musica'' (opera buffa) in four acts composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It premi ...
'') * Alfred Jarry – '' King Ubu'' *
Edmond Rostand Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand (, , ; 1 April 1868 – 2 December 1918) was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism and is known best for his 1897 play ''Cyrano de Bergerac''. Rostand's romantic plays contrasted with t ...
– ''
Cyrano de Bergerac Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac ( , ; 6 March 1619 – 28 July 1655) was a French novelist, playwright, epistolarian, and duelist. A bold and innovative author, his work was part of the libertine literature of the first half of the 17th cen ...
'' * Jean Giraudoux – '' The Trojan War Will Not Take Place'' *
Jean Anouilh Jean Marie Lucien Pierre Anouilh (; 23 June 1910 – 3 October 1987) was a French dramatist whose career spanned five decades. Though his work ranged from high drama to absurdist farce, Anouilh is best known for his 1944 play ''Antigone'', an ad ...
– ''
Becket ''Becket or The Honour of God'' (french: Becket ou l'honneur de Dieu) is a 1959 play written in French by Jean Anouilh. It is a depiction of the conflict between Thomas Becket and King Henry II of England leading to Becket's assassination in 117 ...
'', ''
Antigone In Greek mythology, Antigone ( ; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is the daughter of Oedipus and either his mother Jocasta or, in another variation of the myth, Euryganeia. She is a sister of Polynices, Eteocles, and Ismene.Roman, L., & Rom ...
'' *
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialist, existentialism (and Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology), a French playwright, novelist, screenwriter ...
– ''
No Exit ''No Exit'' (french: Huis clos, links=no, ) is a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The play was first performed at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in May 1944. The play begins with three characters who find themselves wait ...
'' *
Eugène Ionesco Eugène Ionesco (; born Eugen Ionescu, ; 26 November 1909 – 28 March 1994) was a Romanian-French playwright who wrote mostly in French, and was one of the foremost figures of the French avant-garde theatre in the 20th century. Ionesco inst ...
– ''La Cantatrice chauve (''
The Bald Soprano ''La Cantatrice chauve '' – translated from French as ''The Bald Soprano'' or ''The Bald Prima Donna'' – is the first play written by Romanian-French playwright Eugène Ionesco. Nicolas Bataille directed the premiere on 11 May 1950 at the ...
''), ''Les Chaises'' (''
The Chairs ''The Chairs'' (french: Les Chaises) is a one-act play by Eugène Ionesco, described as an absurdist "tragic farce". It was first performed in Paris in 1952. Setting A high tower surrounded by water. Characters *Old Man, aged 95 *Old Woman, age ...
''), ''La Leçon'' (''
The Lesson ''The Lesson'' (french: La Leçon) is a one-act play by French-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco. It was first performed in 1951 in a production directed by Marcel Cuvelier (who also played the Professor). Since 1957 it has been in permanent ...
''), ''
Rhinoceros A rhinoceros (; ; ), commonly abbreviated to rhino, is a member of any of the five extant species (or numerous extinct species) of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. (It can also refer to a member of any of the extinct species ...
'' *
Jean Genet Jean Genet (; – ) was a French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. In his early life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but he later became a writer and playwright. His major works include the novels '' The Thief' ...
– '' The Maids'', ''
The Balcony ''The Balcony'' (french: Le Balcon) is a play by the French dramatist Jean Genet. It is set in an unnamed city that is experiencing a revolutionary uprising in the streets; most of the action takes place in an upmarket brothel that functions as a ...
'' *
Samuel Beckett Samuel Barclay Beckett (; 13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish novelist, dramatist, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. His literary and theatrical work features bleak, impersonal and tragicomic exp ...
– '' En attendant Godot'' ( Waiting for Godot''), ''Fin de Partie'' (''
Endgame Endgame, Endgames, End Game, End Games, or similar variations may refer to: Film * ''The End of the Game'' (1919 film) * ''The End of the Game'' (1975 film), short documentary U.S. film * ''Endgame'' (1983 film), 1983 Italian post-apocalyptic f ...
'') and other works in French


Nonfiction

*
Michel de Montaigne Michel Eyquem, Sieur de Montaigne ( ; ; 28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592), also known as the Lord of Montaigne, was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance. He is known for popularizing the essay as a liter ...
– '' The Essays'' *
Blaise Pascal Blaise Pascal ( , , ; ; 19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, and Catholic writer. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal's earliest m ...
– '' Les Pensées'' *
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, widely considered a seminal figure in the emergence of modern philosophy and science. Math ...
– ''
Meditations on First Philosophy ''Meditations on First Philosophy, in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated'' ( la, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animæ immortalitas demonstratur) is a philosophical treatise ...
'', ''
Discourse on Method ''Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences'' (french: Discours de la Méthode Pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la vérité dans les sciences) is a philosophical and autobiographical ...
'' * François de La Rochefoucauld – ''The Maxims'' *
Jean de la Bruyère Jean de La Bruyère (, , ; 16 August 1645 – 11 May 1696) was a French philosopher and moralist, who was noted for his satire. Early years Jean de La Bruyère was born in Paris, in today's Essonne ''département'', in 1645. His family was m ...
- Les Caractères ou les Mœurs de ce siècle *
Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon, GE (16 January 16752 March 1755), was a French soldier, diplomat, and memoirist. He was born in Paris at the Hôtel Selvois, 6 rue Taranne (demolished in 1876 to make way for the Boulevard Saint-Germain). Th ...
- Mémoires *
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Rev ...
– '' Discourse on the Arts and Sciences'', ''
The Social Contract ''The Social Contract'', originally published as ''On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Political Right'' (french: Du contrat social; ou, Principes du droit politique), is a 1762 French-language book by the Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques ...
'', ''Les Confessions'' ( Confessions) * François-René de Chateaubriand – '' Genius of Christianity'', '' Memoirs from Beyond Grave'' *
Alexis de Tocqueville Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, comte de Tocqueville (; 29 July 180516 April 1859), colloquially known as Tocqueville (), was a French aristocrat, diplomat, political scientist, political philosopher and historian. He is best known for his works ...
– '' Democracy in America'' *
Frédéric Bastiat Claude-Frédéric Bastiat (; ; 30 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French economist, writer and a prominent member of the French Liberal School. A member of the French National Assembly, Bastiat developed the economic concept of opportu ...
– '' The Law'' *
Jules Michelet Jules Michelet (; 21 August 1798 – 9 February 1874) was a French historian and an author on other topics whose major work was a history of France and its culture. His aphoristic style emphasized his anti-clerical republicanism. In Michelet ...
– ''Histoire de France'', ''La Sorcière'' *
Henri Bergson Henri-Louis Bergson (; 18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) was a French philosopherHenri Bergson. 2014. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 13 August 2014, from https://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/61856/Henri-Bergson
– '' Creative Evolution'' *
Albert Camus Albert Camus ( , ; ; 7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French philosopher, author, dramatist, and journalist. He was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, the second-youngest recipient in history. His work ...
– ''
The Myth of Sisyphus ''The Myth of Sisyphus'' (french: link=no, Le mythe de Sisyphe) is a 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus. Influenced by philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche, Camus introduces his philosop ...
'' *
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialist, existentialism (and Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology), a French playwright, novelist, screenwriter ...
– '' Existentialism is a Humanism'', ''
Being and Nothingness ''Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology'' (french: L'Être et le néant : Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique), sometimes published with the subtitle ''A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology'', is a 1943 book by the philosoph ...
'' *
Simone de Beauvoir Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir (, ; ; 9 January 1908 – 14 April 1986) was a French existentialist philosopher, writer, social theorist, and feminist activist. Though she did not consider herself a philosopher, and even th ...
– '' The Second Sex'' *
Claude Lévi-Strauss Claude Lévi-Strauss (, ; 28 November 1908 – 30 October 2009) was a French anthropologist and ethnologist whose work was key in the development of the theories of structuralism and structural anthropology. He held the chair of Social Anthro ...
– '' Tristes Tropiques'' * Emil Cioran – ''A Short History of Decay'', ''The Trouble with Being Born'' and other works in French *
Paul Ricœur Jean Paul Gustave Ricœur (; ; 27 February 1913 – 20 May 2005) was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutics. As such, his thought is within the same tradition as other major hermeneutic ...
– ''Freedom and Nature. The Voluntary and the Involuntary'' *
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and literary critic. Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and ho ...
– ''
Discipline and Punish ''Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison'' (french: Surveiller et punir : Naissance de la prison) is a 1975 book by French philosopher Michel Foucault. It is an analysis of the social and theoretical mechanisms behind the changes tha ...
'' *
Pierre Bourdieu Pierre Bourdieu (; 1 August 1930 – 23 January 2002) was a French sociologist and public intellectual. Bourdieu's contributions to the sociology of education, the theory of sociology, and sociology of aesthetics have achieved wide influence ...
– ''
La Distinction ''Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste'' (''La Distinction: Critique sociale du jugement'', 1979) by Pierre Bourdieu, is a sociological report about the state of French culture, based upon the author's empirical research from ...
''


Literary criticism

*
Nicolas Boileau Nicolas or Nicolás may refer to: People Given name * Nicolas (given name) Mononym * Nicolas (footballer, born 1999), Brazilian footballer * Nicolas (footballer, born 2000), Brazilian footballer Surname Nicolas * Dafydd Nicolas (c.1705–1774), ...
* Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve *
Hippolyte Taine Hippolyte Adolphe Taine (, 21 April 1828 – 5 March 1893) was a French historian, critic and philosopher. He was the chief theoretical influence on French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism and one of the first practition ...
*
Jacques Lacan Jacques Marie Émile Lacan (, , ; 13 April 1901 – 9 September 1981) was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Described as "the most controversial psycho-analyst since Freud", Lacan gave yearly seminars in Paris from 1953 to 1981, and pu ...
*
Maurice Blanchot Maurice Blanchot (; ; 22 September 1907 – 20 February 2003) was a French writer, philosopher and literary theorist. His work, exploring a philosophy of death alongside poetic theories of meaning and sense, bore significant influence on post ...
* Paul Bénichou *
Roland Barthes Roland Gérard Barthes (; ; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) was a French literary theorist, essayist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician. His work engaged in the analysis of a variety of sign systems, mainly derived from Western popular ...
* Jean Ricardou *
Paul Ricœur Jean Paul Gustave Ricœur (; ; 27 February 1913 – 20 May 2005) was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutics. As such, his thought is within the same tradition as other major hermeneutic ...
*
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and literary critic. Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and ho ...
*
Jean-François Lyotard Jean-François Lyotard (; ; ; 10 August 1924 – 21 April 1998) was a French philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist. His interdisciplinary discourse spans such topics as epistemology and communication, the human body, modern art an ...
*
Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (; ; born Jackie Élie Derrida; See also . 15 July 1930 – 9 October 2004) was an Algerian-born French philosopher. He developed the philosophy of deconstruction, which he utilized in numerous texts, and which was developed th ...
*
Julia Kristeva Julia Kristeva (; born Yuliya Stoyanova Krasteva, bg, Юлия Стоянова Кръстева; on 24 June 1941) is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, semiotician, psychoanalyst, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who h ...


Poetry

*
Parnassianism Parnassianism (or Parnassism) was a French literary style that began during the positivist period of the 19th century, occurring after romanticism and prior to symbolism. The style was influenced by the author Théophile Gautier as well as b ...
*
Romanticism Romanticism (also known as the Romantic movement or Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate ...
*
Symbolism (arts) Symbolism was a late 19th-century art movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts seeking to represent absolute truths symbolically through language and metaphorical images, mainly as a reaction against naturalism and real ...


See also

*
French culture The culture of France has been shaped by geography, by historical events, and by foreign and internal forces and groups. France, and in particular Paris, has played an important role as a center of high culture since the 17th century and from t ...
*
French art French art consists of the visual and plastic arts (including French architecture, woodwork, textiles, and ceramics) originating from the geographical area of France. Modern France was the main centre for the European art of the Upper Paleolit ...
* List of French language authors * List of French language poets *
French science fiction French science fiction is a substantial genre of French literature. It remains an active and productive genre which has evolved in conjunction with anglophone science fiction and other French and international literature. History Proto science ...
*
Fantastique ''Fantastique'' is a French term for a literary and cinematic genre that overlaps with science fiction, horror, and fantasy. The ''fantastique'' is a substantial genre within French literature. Arguably dating back further than English lan ...
* Media of France ** Books in France


Notes and references


Further reading

* Brereton, Geoffrey. ''A short history of French literature'' (Penguin Books, 1976) * Burgwinkle, William, Nicholas Hammond, and Emma Wilson, eds. ''The Cambridge history of French literature'' (Cambridge University Press, 2011) * Cobb, Richard, ''Promenades: a historian's appreciation of modern French literature'' (Oxford University Press, 1980) * Harvey, Paul, and Janet E. Heseltine, eds. ''The Oxford companion to French literature'' (Clarendon Press, 1961) * Denis Hollier, ed. ''A New History of French Literature'', Harvard University Press, 1989, 1150 pp. * France, Peter. ''The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French'', (Oxford University Press, 1995), 926 pp., * Kay, Sarah, Terence Cave, Malcolm Bowie. ''A Short History of French Literature'' (Oxford University Press, 2006), 356 pp., * Reid, Joyce M.H. ''The concise Oxford dictionary of French literature'' (Oxford UP, 1976) * an alternative point of view. * Sapiro, Gisèle. ''The French Writers’ War 1940-1953'' (1999; English edition 2014); highly influential study of intellectuals in the French Resistanc
online review


External links


French Language & Literature Resources at Yale University


online texts

online texts
The Marandet Collection of French Plays

ABU
online texts



site maintained by prominent French poet Jean-Michel Maulpoix {{DEFAULTSORT:French Literature