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For questions about French literature: works of literature which were originally written in the French language, whether from the country France or elsewhere.

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Why was “Notre Dame de Paris” changed from “Notre Dame of Paris” to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” when it was re-published in English?

In the foreword to my copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Elizabeth Massie writes this: Victor Hugo's early novel, Notre Dame de Paris, published in 1831 and set in medieval Paris of 1482, was the ...
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Was Hendrik Conscience's novel The Lion of Flanders (De Leeuw van Vlaanderen) the first work inspired by the Battle of the Golden Spurs?

In 1838, the Flemish author Hendrik Conscience published the novel De Leeuw van Vlaenderen, of de Slag der Gulden Sporen ("The Lion of Flanders, or the Battle of the Golden Spurs"), which is based on ...
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33 views

Question about a Stendhal reference

In Michael Herr's book about the Vietnam War, Dispatches, he describes Operation Pegasus—the relief of the besieged USMC garrison at Khe Sahn in 1968—in the following way: Pegasus was almost ...
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Why did Madame Roland confess to Jean that he is the legitimate son of Maréchal instead of Pierre?

Reading Pierre et Jean, we know that Pierre is the legitimate son of Maréchal yet Madame Roland confessed to Jean instead that he is his true son. Why is this the case?
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42 views

On a quote of Hegel in L'été (Summer) of Camus

This is my first question on this website, so I am not completely sure that this is the most adequate one (I could have also tried Philosophy stack exchange). In the chapter "L'exil d'Hélène" of L'...
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30 views

Are all or some of the characters named Sganarelle the same person?

A recurring name in the cast of Molière's plays is named Sganarelle. If they were all the same person, the story of his life would look something like this: The Flying Doctor: Sganarelle is a servant ...
7
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132 views

In Baudelaire's “Chant d'automne”, why isn't the hidden rhythm better known?

I noticed something remarkable about one of Baudelaire's poems that I can't find any mention of on the web. My question is whether anybody has noticed this before, and whether there's some reason why ...
8
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1answer
162 views

What exactly are masques and bergamasques?

In Verlaines's "Claire de Lune" he speaks of: Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques They play musical instruments, so one assumes them to be musical artists, but what exactly are masques and ...
3
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1answer
33 views

What is the meaning of Flavie's final statement?

At the end of Nantas (1878) by Émile Zola, the last words of the short story are Flavie's final statement: ENGLISH: "I love you!", she cried to his neck, sobbing, tearing this confession from ...
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2answers
39 views

Why did the waiter send Varajou where he did?

In Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Wrong House" (available on Project Gutenberg along with all of Guy de Maupassant's short stories), Quartermaster Varajou wishes to find a brothel, and asks a ...
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277 views

Why did the alexandrine become the “natural” metre for French verse drama, whereas English renaissance drama adopted the iambic pentameter?

We previously had a question asking Were all of Shakespeare's plays fully in iambic pentameter?, but of course, it wasn't just Shakespeare who used iambic pentameter; it became the prevalent metre in ...
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29 views

What is the meaning of Izquierdo's ending statement?

In the very end (Act III, Scene 11) of Emmanuel Roblès's play Montserrat, Izquierdo replies to Father Coronil's, after asking if he had regretted his decision: ENGLISH: No. He only talked to ...
6
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1answer
96 views

Why different editions of Rabelais' “Gargantua and Pantagruel” novels contain different texts?

While looking for the original text of Rabelais' novels in French, I found that different editions have significant differences. Let's compare the first sentence in the beginning of the first chapter. ...
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31 views

Why is The Power of Fables, in Book VIII of Fables by La Fontaine, addressed to Paul Barillon, the French ambassador to England?

The Power of Fables (Le pouvoir des Fables), fable 4 of Book VIII of Fables written by La Fontaine, is addressed to Paul Barillon, the French ambassador to England under Louis XIV. I know that La ...
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78 views

When was young Cosette's bedtime?

While the song "Come to Me" was probably not intended as a treatise on astronomical timekeeping or 19th-century French child-rearing, some of Fantine's lines (taken at face value) fit together for a ...
3
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1answer
80 views

What/who are the exact sources of inspiration, deriving from Antiquity, for Fables, written by La Fontaine?

I know that La Fontaine's Fables is heavily inspired by Greco-Roman classic literature, especially Aesop's fables, but I'm sure there are other sources of inspiration for La Fontaine's 12 books of ...
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What does “And others, whose breasts love the feel of scapulars,” mean in Baudelaire's “Damned Women”?

Et d'autres, dont la gorge aime les scapulaires, Qui, recélant un fouet sous leurs longs vêtements, Mêlent, dans le bois sombre et les nuits solitaires, L'écume du plaisir aux larmes ...
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172 views

In which countries has Persepolis been banned?

Given its unflattering depiction of life in a certain type of society, I'm guessing that Persepolis may have been banned in more than one country in the past, but I'm not sure where to find this ...
7
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1answer
143 views

Accuracy of a translation: how to forge an opinion?

This question is directly inspired from this one on French Language stack exchange. To summarize it, the OP is wondering about the good translation for "chimiste" in Baudelaire's opening poem Au ...
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Why does everyone turn against Mlle Michonneau in Balzac's Père Goriot?

Why does everyone turn against Mlle Michonneau very suddenly after the arrest of Vautrin? (Even Rastignac, who knows that Vautrin's pal murdered Victorine's brother.)
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2answers
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Why and how did the orphan kill his adoptive mother?

While seeking the answer to a story-identification question the other day, I got sucked into a collection of Guy de Maupassant's short stories. (Have fun!) One of them, "The Orphan", is about a woman, ...
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“The Dearest Charms in France” - French story about soldiers, a lottery, and a famous prostitute

Several years ago, I read a memorable short story included as an example (of what, I don't recall) in a book about writing. The story was set in a historical era of France. I believe it was ...
7
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1answer
104 views

19th-C French story about loner who dines and doesn't go to England

I'm trying to remember the author and title of a story I once read. It was set in Paris in the nineteenth century, and I assume also written by a nineteenth-century French author. The story is ...
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5k views

Was there a reason Victor Hugo chose 24601 as the number for Jean Valjean?

24601 has developed into being an iconic part of both the Les Miserables book and musical. Was that number special to him, or was it simply a random number he chose (I doubt it)?
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395 views

Why did the characters in “No Exit” agree to torment each other?

Once the characters in No Exit realized that they were placed there to torment each other, why didn't they refuse to do so? When Joseph says "eh bien, continuons" ("very well, let's get on with it") ...
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57 views

How long is the Nijni-Novgorod trade fair?

In Jules Verne, Michel Strogoff, part 1 chapter 5, when Michel arrives to Nijni-Novgorod, there's a huge trade fair going on in the city. The text seems to give two contradictory numbers about how ...
7
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1answer
71 views

How much do the characters in Waiting for Godot actually know?

Waiting for Godot obviously never actually explicitly says who Godot is or exactly why the characters are waiting for him. How much do the characters know themselves? For example, do they even know ...
12
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1answer
109 views

Why is Rousseau saying that “[…] Russia was civilized too soon”?

In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau says [...] Russia will never be really civilized, because it was civilized too soon What is he referring to, when saying it was civilized too soon, ...
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3answers
425 views

Why is the tense wrong in the beginning of The Stranger?

The first lines of Albert Camus' The Stranger go something like this: Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday It's told in the present tense, as in, when Meursault is recounting the event it had ...
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1answer
107 views

Why is Camus asserting that “Marx scientific Messianism” is Bourgeois?

In The Rebel, Camus asserts that Progress, the future of science, the cult of technology and of production, are bourgeois myths, ... Why is Camus defining these themes as "bourgeois myths"?
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Why does Meursault kill “the Arab” in The Stranger?

In Albert Camus' book The Stranger, Meursault kills a character known as "the Arab" for no real reason at all. Meursault even acknowledges that he doesn't have to kill "the Arab" It struck me that ...
5
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1answer
621 views

Can I read the second book of “In Search of Lost Time” out of order if I can't find a good translation?

I want to read the In Search of Lost Time series out of order, because there is no good translation of the second book in my language. Is it necessary to read the book series in order? Are they ...
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3answers
345 views

Why don't these lines rhyme in Les Miserables?

In Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables, There is a room that's full of toys, There are a hundred boys and girls I know it's translated from French, but why isn't it girls and boys? There ...
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1answer
323 views

How long was the Little Prince on Earth?

In The Little Prince, the titular little prince lands on Earth. How long was he there? If I recall correctly, the prince left on the 8th day of the pilot being lost in the desert. I don't know if ...
13
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1answer
283 views

Why all those tangents?

Anyone who's ever read Victor Hugo's immortal masterpiece Les Miserables knows that it's a long read...mostly because Hugo goes on a bunch of random tangents in the middle--on such topics as the ...
12
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1answer
95 views

Are the talking animals real or figments of the Little Prince's imagination?

The Little Prince meets some animals that can talk: for example, a fox and a snake. Well, we know[citation needed] that they can't actually talk, but do they really exist or are they just figments of ...
10
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378 views

In de Maupassant's Two Friends, why does the colonel allow the two men to go into a warzone?

In Two Friends by Guy de Maupassant, the two men wish to go fishing in a warzone and are allowed to do so by the colonel who controls the checkkpoint between the safety of Paris and the warzone ...