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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Have the lyrics of the Song of Father Dûchene (Chanson du Père Dûchene) been translated into English?

The Song of Father Dûchene (Chanson du Père Dûchene) is an anarchist song written anonymously in France, probably in 1892, and which was famously sung by Ravachol on his way to the guillotine in July ...
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2 votes
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What was Victor Hugo's attitude towards religion, especially referring to a chapter in "Les Miserables"?

I'm reading "Les Miserables", knowing almost nothing about his author, and I'm now approaching Volume II - Book VII - Chapter VI (The absolute goodness of prayer). Here, Hugo is criticizing ...
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What distinguishes Maupassant's style from Flaubert's?

Suppose you were given a passage in French that you had not seen before, written either by Flaubert or Maupassant. Suppose that nothing about the subject matter or vocabulary gives a hint as to its ...
2 votes
1 answer
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What did Camus mean by "the odd vegetation of those distant regions" in "The Myth of Sisyphus"?

In his essay 'The Myth of Sisyphus', Albert Camus considers suicide, the "one truly serious philosophical problem", and asks, "is there a logic to the point of death?" Then he ...
5 votes
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Why is "warm" removed in the translated English title of Eberhardt's "In the Shadow of Islam"?

Isabelle Eberhardt's book Dans l'Ombre Chaude de l'Islam has a title whose direct English translation would be "In the Warm Shadow of Islam". My guess is that the word "chaude", ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What is the origin of the third-person descriptive interludes in the Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt?

I've started reading The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt (English translation by Nina de Voogd, edited and annotated by Elizabeth Kershaw). The original was written largely in French, with a few ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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Why did Urquhart choose "neck of a goose" in his English translation of Gargantua?

In Rabelais' Gargantua, in Chapter 13, we find a discussion on the best means to wipe one's bum. You can find Urquhart's translation here. I am specifically interested in the conclusion: But, to ...
2 votes
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Why does the Phantom repeatedly mention Carlotta's throat in "The Phantom of the Opera"?

When Erik is monologuing to Christine in his room underneath the Opera, and Raoul and the Persian are trapped in the torture chamber, Erik says this: Meantime, the other had already begun to play the ...
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2 votes
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What does Erik gain by lying to the Persian about the chandelier?

When the Persion meets Erik on the underground lake, and confronts him about the chandelier, Erik denies any involvement: "Well, the chandelier... the chandelier, Erik?..." "What about ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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What does "Oaths are made to catch gulls with" mean?

In The Phantom of the Opera, Erik uses a strange phrase when speaking to the Persian, saying that oaths are useless: "Erik," I asked, "Erik, swear that..." "What?" he ...
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3 votes
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Was Molière’s “Misanthrope” inspired by Menander’s “Dyskolos”?

The 4th century BCE comedy Dyskolos (“Old Cantankerous”) by Menander was rediscovered in Egypt in the mid-20th century. The Wikipedia article on the play tells us: The Dyskolos inspired Molière, who ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Why was Hugues de Groot also called "Grotius"?

I am currently reading Grotius' De iure belli ac pacis (On the law of war and peace, 1625) in the French translation by Paul-Louis-Ernest Pradier-Fodéré (Le droit de la guerre et de la paix, 1865). At ...
8 votes
2 answers
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Who translated the 1995 Penguin Popular Classics version of "The Phantom of the Opera"?

I recently started reading the 1995 Penguin Popular Classics version of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. While reading it, however, I noticed that there is no attribution printed in the book ...
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1 vote
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Satire of old lady laying flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier, Paris - what is this french short story?

In a german textbook in high school we had a short story the name and author of which I am looking for. I think the story was written between WWI and WWII or right after WWII. It is about an old lady ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Is the grail in Chrétien de Troyes "Perceval" called "holy"?

According to Wikipedia article devoted to the tale Perceval, the Story of the Grail by Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval is the earliest recorded account of what was to become the Quest for the Holy Grail ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why did Samuel Beckett include Hamm’s inability to hear Clov say “gray” in “Endgame”?

In the play Endgame by Samuel Beckett, Hamm asks Clov what color the sky is outside, and doesn’t hear him repeating the word “gray” until he whispers it: HAMM:   Then what is it? CLOV (looking):   ...
2 votes
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2 Related Poems by Rimbaud and Verlaine

I'm looking for two poems by Rimbaud and Verlaine. They escape to Belgium together, went to a town party, and both wrote a poem about the event. Verlaine was really straightforward, and classical. ...
2 votes
1 answer
381 views

Why didn't Mercédès marry Edmond Dantès at the end in Count of Monte Cristo?

After Fernand is dead, Mercédès was single and she loved Edmond Dantès. Then why didn't she marry him afterward? Is it because Monte Cristo is a changed person and she did not love the changed man? It ...
4 votes
1 answer
143 views

What are the discrepancies between Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas and The Mysterious Island?

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas, first published in 1871, is one of Jules Verne's best-known novels. In 1875, Verne published a sequel, The Mysterious Island. The Wikipedia article about the ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What do the saint, the angel, the musician and the sandalwood refer to in Mallarmé's poem Sainte?

Stéphane Mallarmé was a major symbolist poet. One of his poems is Sainte (available on Wikisource). On the surface, it talks about musical instruments, a sandalwood tree, religious ceremonies, an ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Which French author or critic claimed that Racine and La Fontaine could not be understood by foreigners?

Jean Racine (1639–1699) is considered "one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, along with Molière and Corneille". The Wikipedia article about the playwright contains a ...
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3 votes
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Did Alphonse Daudet exchange anti-Semitic correspondence with Richard Wagner?

The French novelist Alphonse Daudet (1840–1897) is best known for works such as Lettres de mon moulin ("Letters from My Windmill"), the Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon and his ...
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1 vote
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What was bernanosian about Camus's call to sacrifice in the resistance newspaper Combat?

For several years, Albert Camus was editor-in-chief of Combat, a clandestine newspaper of the French Resistance. In his biography Albert Camus, fils d'Alger ("Albert Camus, son of Algiers", ...
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What is the view on climate by Mme de Staël that Vircondelet is referring to?

In his biography Albert Camus, fils d'Alger ("Albert Camus, son of Algiers", Fayard 2010, Pluriel 2013) Alain Vircondelet describes the strong connection between Camus and Algeria, ...
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1 vote
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Where did Camus call Sartre's theory of commitment an illusion?

Albert Camus "is routinely categorized as an existentialist, a term he rejected on several occasions" (Wikipedia). His critique of existentialistm focused mostly on Sartre. Alain Vircondelet'...
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1 vote
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Was de Staël's On Literature Considered in Its Relations with Social Institutions influenced by late-18th-century German romantics?

In an answer to the question Can formal essays be considered as a literature in strict sense?, I wrote that our current definition of literature reflects a concept of literature that originated in ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Have they ever published normal-sized Tintin volumes?

Have they ever published normal-sized Tintin volumes? The books with 3 in 1, but the size of the single issues.
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2 votes
0 answers
51 views

Does Rousseau say that men are slaves of governments and laws?

Jean-Jaques Rousseau wrote Discours sur les sciences et les arts. In the very first part, the third paragraph says the following: Original (French) L'esprit a ses besoins, ainsi que le corps. Ceux-ci ...
2 votes
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What is the significance of the tale narrated by Nadir to the muezzin Marwan in the short story 'Time, as It Evaporates…'?

In the French science fiction short story "Le temps, en s'évaporant…" by Jean-Claude Dunyach, translated into English by Jean-Louis Trudel as "Time, as It Evaporates…", there is a ...
3 votes
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Where is the setting of "Time, as it evaporates..."?

I recently read an interesting story that was sought in an identification request on another site: the short story "Time, as it evaporates..." ("Le temps, en s'évaporant") by Jean-...
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11 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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5 votes
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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? Update: After talking with someone who lives in France they said to have a look at the bottom of either the first ...
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4 votes
1 answer
91 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 ...
6 votes
1 answer
355 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 votes
1 answer
2k 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 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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3 votes
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"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. ...
6 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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1 answer
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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,...
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5 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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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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4 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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32 votes
3 answers
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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:...
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4 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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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 votes
1 answer
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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 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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