14 votes

International literature #6: French

I'd put this series on hold, because of lack of activity. Now I'll give it another go, with French, one of the languages with huge amounts of influential literature.

So, without further ado, please share your favourite French books and authors!

12 comments

  1. [2]
    blitz
    Link
    Alexandre Dumas has always had a special place in my heart. I've read a few of his books, specifically The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. They were written as serials for a...

    Alexandre Dumas has always had a special place in my heart. I've read a few of his books, specifically The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. They were written as serials for a newspaper so they're pretty long winded, but the stories are so satisfying to me. I would definitely recommend them!

    3 votes
    1. iiv
      Link Parent
      I think it's interesting how serials were so popular in the 19th century. I wish we had something like that today. I know there are fanfictions and some books that are released bit-by-bit or...

      I think it's interesting how serials were so popular in the 19th century. I wish we had something like that today. I know there are fanfictions and some books that are released bit-by-bit or chapter-by-chapter, but it isn't at all the same thing. Widespread, widely read, original novels published in regular newspapers. That's cool! And it's cool how the format affected the texts: as you said, they're long-winded thanks to that.

      1 vote
  2. [4]
    unknown user
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    Samuel Beckett is an Irish author that wrote both in English and French. His most famous work, En Attendant Godot was written first in French, then translated to English by Beckett himself as...

    Samuel Beckett is an Irish author that wrote both in English and French. His most famous work, En Attendant Godot was written first in French, then translated to English by Beckett himself as Waiting for Godot. Another text I read of him was Mercier et Camier, which was again first composed in French.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      iiv
      Link Parent
      Interesting! It is fascinating how some authors write in their second language. Nabokov and Kerouac also wrote in their second language. Maybe it creates some distance from the text and therefore...

      Interesting! It is fascinating how some authors write in their second language. Nabokov and Kerouac also wrote in their second language. Maybe it creates some distance from the text and therefore makes it easier to be self-critical? Or maybe it's just more fun.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        unknown user
        Link Parent
        My personal experience with writing in English and Italian is that it is a big big task. Expressing yourself in a language that is not your mother tongue, trying to compose a text with...

        My personal experience with writing in English and Italian is that it is a big big task. Expressing yourself in a language that is not your mother tongue, trying to compose a text with etymological and semiological nuance, to make use of the richness of the language is a hard task that required a really good command of the language and good research skills, and as an extension of the latter, enough perseverence to topple the big obstacle such research is to composing a fluent, beautifully-flowing, natural-sounding piece of text. Doing that successfully enough to receive a Nobel prize is really a big achievement.

        Especially when I write in English, I find it hard to deal with the fact that it has been for me the "tech language" for so long. I'm reading more and more literature in English, but IDK if I'll ever have a vocabulary in it as broad as that I have within my mother tongue. When it is not your daily language, you lack access to so many daily occasions where unique modes of language occur, and I find that while writing complex, long, expressive, abstract sentences is not really that hard of a task, pinning down the smaller, more quotidian interactions or thoughts or reactions is way harder.

        3 votes
        1. iiv
          Link Parent
          Yes, I feel the same regarding writing in English. My understanding of English (idioms, rules, vocabulary) is excellent, but it's much harder to apply them in real time, writing like this. It must...

          Yes, I feel the same regarding writing in English. My understanding of English (idioms, rules, vocabulary) is excellent, but it's much harder to apply them in real time, writing like this. It must be very difficult to write a whole novel like that.

          1 vote
  3. [4]
    Staross
    Link
    Céline's Voyage au bout de la nuit & Mort à crédit. It's hard to go back to classic books of the same period after that, because they feel so outdated and conventional in comparison.

    Céline's Voyage au bout de la nuit & Mort à crédit. It's hard to go back to classic books of the same period after that, because they feel so outdated and conventional in comparison.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      iiv
      Link Parent
      I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read Céline. Which of those books do you think I should start with? Or is there a better starting point? Could you elaborate on the difference between Céline...

      I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read Céline. Which of those books do you think I should start with? Or is there a better starting point?

      Could you elaborate on the difference between Céline and other contemporary authors? I've read quite a lot from that period (and even earlier) that feels modern.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Staross
        Link Parent
        Voyage au bout de la nuit is definitively the easiest one (and most famous). I think it's both what it's about and how it's told. Céline wasn't from the bourgeoisie or the nobility, he was a...

        Voyage au bout de la nuit is definitively the easiest one (and most famous).

        I think it's both what it's about and how it's told.

        Céline wasn't from the bourgeoisie or the nobility, he was a physician coming from a modest Parisian family. The style is very oral, direct, vulgar and full of slang, while still being quite beautiful (specially in le Voyage). The topics are down to earth, mixed with big topics (WW1, colonialism, capitalism, love, ...) and Céline misanthropic views, all told vicariously in first person with a strong personal voice. If you compare with Proust for example that 10 years earlier describes at length the extremely boring high-class dinner parties with his elegant, sophisticated style, it's night and day.

        2 votes
        1. iiv
          Link Parent
          All right, thanks for the advice. So if I understand correctly, the beauty is the combination of vulgarity, the topics, misanthropy and the voice. I think I might read something by Céline any day...

          All right, thanks for the advice. So if I understand correctly, the beauty is the combination of vulgarity, the topics, misanthropy and the voice. I think I might read something by Céline any day now =)

          2 votes
  4. [3]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. iiv
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Yes, actually! La chambre claire by Roland Barthes is about the nature of photography, and develops the concepts of "punctum" and "studium". I've applied those myself after reading his book. He...

      Yes, actually! La chambre claire by Roland Barthes is about the nature of photography, and develops the concepts of "punctum" and "studium". I've applied those myself after reading his book.

      He explains his views on photography, why he likes a photograph, and is at the same time honoring the memory of his mother. It's quite interesting.

      2 votes
    2. fandegw
      Link Parent
      I spent quite some time reading the first volume of L'identité de la France by Fernand Braudel "Espace et Histoire". And its a wonderful book about the history of France from roman time to...

      I spent quite some time reading the first volume of L'identité de la France by Fernand Braudel "Espace et Histoire". And its a wonderful book about the history of France from roman time to post-industrial era.

      I think it should be okay for non-native readers/speakers of french, because most of the vocabulary is not technical, and its written like a story going through time-periods jumping backward or forward in time to link geography to economics to social systems.

      The thing that I like the most about its series is there lot of attention put on life of farmers, merchants, petty bourgeoisie, or upper class, and their relations with geography, economy, technologies, wars, class systems, borders, rulers, politics etc... And not much on the rulers themselves.

      I feel like I was able to see more clearly what the life of peoples would be in differents era

      2 votes