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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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166 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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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31 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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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 ...
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1answer
88 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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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107 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. ...
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62 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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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,...
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Did Maupassant and Richepin know each other?

One of the first questions in the Guy de Maupassant reading challenge was Political backdrop to “The Lancer's Wife” (Franco-Prussian War)?. After I was unable to find the story in French, it turned ...
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How did Maupassant's contemporaries respond to his play Musotte?

As I mentioned in an earlier question, it is a little-known fact that Maupassant did not only write narrative prose but also plays. The French Wikipedia article lists several plays by Maupassant: ...
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Did the Eiffel Tower feature in any of Maupassant's stories or novels?

Guy de Maupassant wrote almost all of his fiction during a single decade: the 1880s. This was also the decade that saw the construction of the Eiffel Tower, namely in the years 1887-1889. The ...
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Meaning of Greek concepts on omniscience in Amélie Nothomb's Soif

Amélie Nothomb's novel Soif (Thirst) tells us Jesus's memoirs on the eve of the crucifixion. Jesus defends against the accusations made to him by referring to his omniscience as being imperfect. I ...
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How did Maupassant's contemporaries respond to his play Une répétition?

Guy de Maupassant is best known as an author of short stories and novels. It is less well known that he also wrote plays. The English Wikipedia article about the author only mentions his early comedy ...
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Was Maupassant's interest in madness and the supernatural linked to his own mental health?

The French publisher Gallimard has a short biography of Guy de Maupassant on its website. The last lines read, Vers 1885, Maupassant ressent les premiers symptômes de la maladie nerveuse qui l'...
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For Maupassant, were women more inclined to imitate others than men?

In Maupassant's short story "Le Signe" / "The Signal", part of the collection Le Horla (1887), the baroness de Grangerie tells her friend the marchioness de Rennedon how a woman of ill repute had ...
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How did contemporary female readers respond to the sexual violence in the Contes de la Bécasse?

In Maupassant's short story That Pig of a Morin / Ce cochon de Morin, the narrator, Labarbe, says to a woman he finds very attractive (emphasis mine), Parce que vous êtes une des plus belles ...
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Why would not giving money to the poor qualify a person as a Sadducee?

In the first chapter of Albert Camus's novel The Fall, the narrator asks his addressee a few questions: Possédez-vous des richesses? Quelques-unes? Bon. Les avez-vous partagées avec les pauvres? ...
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Did Maupassant adapt the style and content of his stories to the newspapers that published them?

Guy de Maupassant published his short stories and novellas in newspapers and periodicals such as Le Figaro, Gil Blas, Le Gaulois and L'Écho de Paris before they were published in book form. Le Figaro ...
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78 views

Meaning of «Ah! les Bazaine» in La chute / The Fall

In Albert Camus's novel La chute / The Fall, the main character talks about his life to an unnamed listener. In the second chapter, he makes the following statement while talking about friends and ...
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113 views

What is the significance of the names Mersault and Meursault?

The novel A Happy Death, written in the late 1930s and published posthumously in 1971, has a main character named Patrice Mersault. Camus's novel The Stranger, written a few years later and published ...
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98 views

What is the nature of the relationship between Madeleine and the Comte de Vaudrec in Bel-Ami?

In Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami the Comte de Vaudrec is a wealthy member of the nobility who comes to dine at the Forestiers' home every Monday evening. After Madeleine's husband Charles Forestier has ...
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Is Lambert-Sarrazin's moustache speech in Bel-Ami an allusion to a real speech?

The beginning of Chapter V in Part Two of Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami tells us about political discussions regarding the French colonisation of North Africa. One of the members of Parliament (the Third ...
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81 views

In Maupassant's Bel-Ami, why would it be compromising for a magistrate to have been in (the) mixed committees?

In the second chapter of Part Two of Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, Georges Duroy's wife turns out to have interesting connections that allow the couple to write newspaper articles that can make or break ...
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156 views

What does it mean to have teeth in the English style?

In Chapter VI of Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, the journalist Robert de Varenne describes the Baroness de Livar as follows (emphasis added): Une grande sèche, soixante ans, frisons faux, dents à l'...
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Is Maupassant referring to a ranking of duellists or shooters that existed in late nineteenth-century France?

In Chapter VII of the first part of Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, the main character, Georges Duroy, is insulted by another journalist. The disagreement escalates and leads to a duel using pistols. ...
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What is so Balzacian about Mr. Walter's words to Mr. Montelin in Maupassant's Bel-Ami?

In the first few chapters of Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, the main character, Georges Duroy, is learning the ropes of journalism. In Chapter IV of Part I, he accompanies the journalist nicknamed Saint-...
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67 views

What is the difference between souteneur and proxénète in Maupassant's Bel-Ami?

In the first chapters of Guy de Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, the main character, Georges Duroy, is trying to learn the craft of journalism. The end of the book's fourth chapter tells us that he meets ...
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1answer
41 views

How does The Meursault Investigation reference The Fall?

Kamel Daoud's novel The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, contre-enquête, 2013) is a retelling of and sequel to The Stranger / L'Étranger by Albert Camus. But that is not the only Camus novel it ...
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257 views

What does it mean to “unmoor criticism”?

The introduction by Pol Neveux to the complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant (the edition that's on Project Gutenberg - I couldn't pin down its exact details) says the following about the article ...
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176 views

Which short stories are falsely attributed to Guy de Maupassant, and why?

Thanks to @GarethRees's sleuthing and editing, I just learned that several French short stories found in the Project Gutenberg version of the "Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories" are in fact not ...
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55 views

Political backdrop to “The Lancer's Wife” (Franco-Prussian War)?

"La Uhlane" is a short story by Jean Richepin, whose English translation "The Lancer's Wife" was erroneously attributed to Guy de Maupassant in the Walter Dunne edition of Maupassant's works. It ...
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81 views

In which interview did Camus say that Meursault is the only Christ we deserved?

In two YouTube videos about Albert Camus's novel L'étranger / The Stranger, I have found the following quote, which supposedly comes from an interview from 1955: Meursault est le seul Christ que nous ...
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41 views

What political leanings are being described for Monsieur Carre-Lamadon?

I've just begun reading the complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant, starting with one of his most famous, "Boule de Suif" (variously translated as "Dumpling", "Butterball", etc.) In an early ...
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How is the Czechoslovak traveller's story relevant to The Stranger as a whole?

In chapter II of Part II of Camus's novel The Stranger, Meursault narrates a story that he read in an old newspaper cutting that he found under his mattress in prison. Below is a summary. A man from ...
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1answer
68 views

Is Meursault bothered that he doesn't know what day Maman died?

The first line of The Stranger goes like this: Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: "Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours." That doesn'...
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99 views

Why would Maman ask for a religious burial?

In the first chapter of The Stranger, it says: The director stopped at the door of a small building. "I'll leave you now, Monsieur Meursault. If you need me for anything, I'll be in my office. As ...
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46 views

Is Marie's comment based on the existence of a two-tier justice system in French Algeria?

In Camus' novel L'étranger / The Stranger, Meursault gets arrested for shooting "an Arab". During his pre-trial detention, his girlfriend Marie pays him a visit in prison and tries to give him some ...
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2answers
244 views

What is Meursault's problem with the heat?

Meursault in The Stranger seems to spend a lot of time describing the temperature, and especially the heat. There are numerous cases where he mentions the sun and the heat: It occurred to me that all ...
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In what way would windows appease or calm us?

Alain Bashung's song Sur un trapèze, with lyrics by Gaëtan Roussel (see the Wikipedia article about the album Bleu pétrole, released in 2008), begins with the following lines (emphasis and links ...
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44 views

How did they happen to find the cipher in “The Hollow Needle”?

In The Hollow Needle (1909) by Maurice Leblanc, did M. Brédoux just "drop" the paper with the Hollow Needle cipher? Maybe I missed something in the book, but the way the good guys and ...
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71 views

Are the Asterix comics about a drug culture?

The potions used in Asterix comic books resemble the methamphetamine usage of World War II. Has the drug culture within the comics ever been discussed?