Questions tagged [french-literature]

Questions about works of literature which were originally written in the French language, regardless whether they were written or published in France or elsewhere.

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10
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3answers
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Why does Valentine refer to her father's second wife as her "mother-in-law"?

In the translation of The Count of Monte Cristo I am reading, I noticed in Chapter 51, in the exchange between Valentine and Maximillian, Valentine makes repeated reference to her father's second wife ...
5
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0answers
125 views

Why does this Tintin album not have a printing number?

Why does this French Tintin book (Tintin et les Picaros) not have a printing number?
4
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1answer
70 views

French comic about a Native American prisoner

I am looking for a French comic that was published at least 30 years ago. The story took place in the Wild West, during the American Indian Wars. There were three main characters: a young man with a ...
5
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1answer
222 views

Standard text for "Tristan and Isolde"

What is the standard narrative text to read "Tristan and Isolde"? That is, is there something that is a classical text, not in poem form, something like Le Morte d'Arthur for King Arthur?
3
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1answer
343 views

What is "the Saar" in The Last Lesson?

In The Last Lesson, written by Alphonse Daudet, there is this paragraph: My last French lesson! Why, I hardly knew how to write! I should never learn any more! I must stop there, then! Oh, how sorry ...
2
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1answer
78 views

What is the correct translation of the title "Les Fourmis" by Boris Vian?

The literal translation of "les fourmis" is "the ants". It is one of the titles under which the story was published in English (for example, the translation by Rawdon Corbett). The ...
3
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0answers
41 views

"Each of us has the plague within him" from The Plague by Albert Camus

I'm reading The Plague By Albert Camus. I'm not getting few things that Tarrou said when talking of his previous life to all to Dr. Bernard Rieux. First, he talks about his father, mother, and all. ...
5
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2answers
81 views

Meaning of the genealogical list in the first chapter of Pantagruel?

Chapter 1 of François Rabelais's novel Pantagruel contains a long list of ancestors of Pantagruel (quoted from the edition on Wikisource, emphasis added): Et le premier fut Chalbroth, Qui engendra ...
5
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1answer
1k views

Why would birds fall from the sky due to a lack of moisture?

Chapter 2 of François Rabelais's novel Pantagruel contains the following passage (quoted from the edition on Wikisource, emphasis added): Car il ny avoit arbre sus terre quil eust ny feuille ny fleur,...
5
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1answer
75 views

Which ancient philosopher claimed that the sea's salinity was connected with the fall of Phaeton?

In Chapter 2 of his novel Pantagruel François Rabelais writes (quoted from the edition on Wikisource) Le philosophe racompte en mouvant la question, pourquoy cest que leau de la mer est sallee ? quau ...
8
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1answer
358 views

Is this François de La Rochefoucauld's quote authentic?

I am looking for the source of the quote We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves allegedly by François de La Rochefoucauld. The only French ...
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52 views

How many people did the Phantom of the Opera kill?

How many people did the Phantom of the Opera kill? How many people were confirmed as killed by Erik explicitly, either through narration or explicit witness testimomy? How many people were there ...
2
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1answer
71 views

Why is the Marquis de Sade "suddenly a block of abyss"?

The question pertains to Annie Le Brun's Soudain un bloc d'abîme, Sade ("suddenly a block of abyss, Sade", published in English translation as Sade: A Sudden Abyss). What justifies its title?...
2
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1answer
54 views

What inspired Babar's name?

Babar is a fictional elephant, featuring in stories by Jean de Brunhoff and later his son. The name "Babar" is similar to baba, a word originally meaning "father" but used as an ...
32
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3answers
5k views

Is Babar an African or Asian elephant?

As a child I remember enjoying the Babar picture books about the eponymous elephant and his escapades. Now, many years later, it occurs to me to wonder what kind of elephants Babar and his people were:...
4
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2answers
74 views

Who are the pronouns referring to in the Mauritanian poem "You Will Tell Them"?

Mariem Mint Derwich's poem "You Will Tell Them", available in English translation from Words Without Borders, appears to be about a Mauritanian woman, perhaps "the" woman of ...
4
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1answer
76 views

Did "Gargantua and Pantagruel" originally have illustrations?

The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel is a series of novels by François Rabelais, originally published in the 16th century. The Wikipedia article notes this about illustrations: The most famous and ...
5
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1answer
2k views

Guy-Charles Cros quoted by Osamu Dazai: "comme un crapaud contourne une pierre"

In No Longer Human Osamu Dazai attributes the quote below to Guy-Charles Cros: …et puis on recommence encore le lendemain avec seulement la même règle que la veille et qui est d'éviter les grandes ...
4
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1answer
133 views

Is Jules Verne making fun of the English in Around the World?

I just began reading Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days and Phileas Fogg had just fired his servant for giving him warm water that was by 2 Fahrenheit degrees off (roughly 1 Celsius degree). Fogg ...
4
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1answer
109 views

Identification of a Maupassant short story where a young man is upset by the past infidelities of his mistress

In a short story by Maupassant, a young man is upset by the past infidelities of his mistress, a rather paradoxical situation since he came much later after the infidelities (and somehow benefited ...
2
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1answer
109 views

Which Maupassant short stories are set during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870?

I read somewhere that Maupassant wrote ten short stories on the 1870 war between France and Prussia. I know "Boule de suif", "Deux amis", "Un duel", "Madame Sauvage&...
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0answers
45 views

Short story, 19th century: French country priest and devil exchange subjectivities

I am looking for a 19th century short story. I thought it was written by Guy de Maupassant, but didn't find it. A French country priest starts having vivid dreams that he is a diabolical courtier in ...
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2answers
1k views

What literary device is used in from "one thing to another"?

The extract is Then, from one thing to another, M. Hamel went on to talk of the French language, saying that it was the most beautiful language in the world — the clearest, the most logical; that we ...
2
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1answer
108 views

In the short story "The Last Lesson" by Alphonse Daudet, what do the following signify?

"The Last Lesson" is a short story by Alphonse Daudet (link to the English translation). What is the significance/symbolism/meaning of the following aspects of the story? The watcher's ...
3
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1answer
53 views

Is Raymond having an affair with Masson's wife?

When Raymond, Meursault, and Marie went to visit Raymond's friend, Masson, they decide to go to swim after a brief time but Masson's wife and Raymond refuse the idea and rather stay at the bungalow. ...
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0answers
51 views

Was character of Eugene De Rastignac in Balzac’s Father Goriot inspired by Maximillian Robespierre?

Maximillian Robespierre was one of the revolutionary of French Revolution of 1789, he was a lawyer (by profession) from Arras. Eugene De Rastignac was also moved to Madame Vaquer’s house in order to ...
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0answers
29 views

Does Muriel Barbery's title "The Elegance of The Hedgehog" reflect knowledge of Archilochus' aphorism?

Does Muriel Barbery's title The Elegance of The Hedgehog reflect knowledge of Archilochus' aphorism? Is there information or proof that Barbery had Archilocus' aphorism in mind?
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0answers
89 views

Is Candide more noble than Cunégonde?

The Candide novel starts with: The old servants of the house suspected [Candide] to have been the son of the Baron's sister, by a very good sort of a gentleman of the neighborhood, whom that young ...
2
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1answer
54 views

What does Albert Camus mean with "they remembered pleasure"?

In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus wrote among others: So everyone comes down into the streets, they deafen each other with talk, argue or lust after one another - and the town, under the red July ...
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1answer
284 views

Why did Victor Hugo write that "the interior of the soul" is "grander than the sky"?

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables Whether "the interior ...
12
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1answer
843 views

Identification of a short story about a short irrefutable self-evident proof that God exists that is kept secret

I am trying to find a short story (about 20 - 30 pages long) I read a couple of years ago. Here is what I recall: The central idea is that a [catholic] priest creates (and writes) a very short (about ...
4
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2answers
141 views

Symbolism and romanticism as literary movements

I'm trying to understand the difference between Symbolism and Romanticism as literary movements. As I understand it, the symbolists explicitly wanted to distance themselves from the romantics. But if ...
1
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1answer
38 views

Did Camus have a known source of inspiration for Meursault's behaviour during and after his mother's funeral?

Camus's novel The Stranger begins with the news of the death and the funeral of Meursault's mother. Meursault smokes cigarettes during the wake, doesn't weep before, during or after the funeral, and ...
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2answers
1k views

Did Camus ever say “Always go too far, because that's where you'll find the truth”?

This statement has been attributed to Albert Camus in various places on the internet. For example, this one: However, his Wikiquote page doesn't contain this quote. So did he actually say it? If he ...
7
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0answers
47 views

Authenticity of an anecdote about Flaubert unintentionally attracting a crowd by reading his draft aloud near an open window

One of my teachers of French once told an anecdote about Gustave Flaubert in class. I'm not certain I remember all the details correctly, so what follows is how I remember, or possibly misremember ...
2
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0answers
57 views

Interpretation of a Camus Quote

In The Plague, Rieux, the main character of the novel, in Chapter 15, claims that I've seen too much of hospitals to relish any idea of collective punishment. What does he mean by that? How exactly ...
7
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1answer
285 views

In Les Miserables, why can Javert be the judge of Fantine and why does Monsieur Madeleine have the power to stop him?

In Les Miserables, one of the Protagonists, Fantine, attacks a citizen on the open street after he insulted her and put snow in the back of her dress. She is then arrested by Javert, the local police ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What does Victor Hugo mean by "the red ant heaps of Toulon"?

In his novel "The Last Day of a Condemned Man", Victor Hugo writes the following sequence in reference to poor people who turn to crime out of hunger: Unfortunate beings, whom, by means of ...
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0answers
29 views

Notebook epigram referring to 'only death in the universe'

Camus says somewhere that there is only death in the universe. By 'death' he simply means physics (energy, matter). He is rejecting the metaphysics of a universal dualism: Life and Death. I believe ...
3
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0answers
25 views

Why did Jeanbernat cut off Frère Archangias' ear?

In La faute de l'abbé Mouret by Émile Zola, Jeanbernat threatens to cut off Frère Archangias' ear (book 3, chapter 5) and then does so (final chapter). Jeanbernat has clear reasons for hating ...
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0answers
27 views

Was the main character in Gigi based on a real-life person?

Gigi, the female protagonist of Colette's novella Gigi (1944), is full of character. Independent and mischievous, and a little tomboyish, she leaves a lasting impression on the reader. I am wondering ...
2
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1answer
50 views

Where did Anouilh acknowledge that his play Becket contains many historical inaccuracies?

The French playwright Jean Anouilh wrote the play Becket or The Honour of God / Becket ou l'Honneur de Dieu inspired by Archbishop Thomas Becket's conflict with king Henry II. (In 1964, five years ...
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0answers
23 views

Evidence for the claim that placing Gide's works in the Index of Forbidden Books scandalised the author's admirers?

The French author André Gide (1869 – 1951) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947. The author died in February 1951; in the following year, the Vatican placed his works on the Index of ...
2
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1answer
119 views

Is there a Reader's Guide to Hunchback of Notre Dame?

I (well, currently my wife, but I plan to as well) am trying to read Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame in a beautiful faux-suede edition that we received as a gift. However, there are various ...
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0answers
24 views

How does Mérimée's Carmen mix the genres classical tragedy, romantic drama and picaresque novel?

Prosper Mérimée's novella Carmen (1845/1847) is best known as the source for George Bizet's opera Carmen (1875). The French Wikipedia article about the novella contains the following unsourced ...
2
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1answer
43 views

Where did Joseph Conrad praise Anatole France as an analyst of illusions?

The French Wikipedia article about Les dieux ont soif (The Gods Are Athirst), a novel by Anatole France, contains the following quote attributed to Joseph Conrad: « C’est un grand analyste d’...
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0answers
16 views

How did Flaubert show in Bouvard et Pécuchet that history repeats itself?

The French Wikipedia article on Gustave Flaubert contains a section on Bouvard et Pécuchet, the author's unfinished novel. This section contains the following unsourced statement: Critiquant les ...
-2
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1answer
131 views

A question about Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea [closed]

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a classic science fiction adventure by French writer Jules Verne (1828-1905). It was adapted into a 1954 American technicolor science fiction adventure film. ...
4
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1answer
76 views

What does it mean to “die game”?

In chapter 3 of The Phantom of the Opera, it says that the retiring managers had determined to “die game”, as we now say. What does that mean? I have searched the web with no luck.
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63 views

What book of Eugène Sue's 'The Mysteries of the People' inspired M. Joly's 'Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli & Montesquieu', as claimed by U. Eco?

Question summed up: Can anyone help me find the part of Eugène Sue's The Mysteries of the People wherein a sinister Jesuit plot is unveiled, which may have, through a game of 'telephone' by plagiarism,...