Questions tagged [french-literature]

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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An expression 'temporary absolution' from Maupassant's 'Confession'

What is 'temporary absolution' in the below phrase? It's from 'Confession' by Guy de Maupassant. She grew excited, sobbed, seemed enervated and worn out, as if she were still burning from her lover’...
6
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1answer
126 views

In “Candide”, are Prussian officers recruiting for the Bulgarian army?

I am reading Candide as part of my A Level. In the story Candide is chased from his home and finds "Two men dressed in blue". We later learn that they are trying to recruit him in the Bulgarian army. ...
6
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1answer
117 views

Is this sentence in The Count of Monte Cristo supposed to refer to Fernand or to Albert?

In Chapter Seventy-Eight of The Count of Monte Cristo Albert shows Monte Cristo the following article from the newspaper: A correspondent at Yanina informs us of a fact of which until now we had ...
7
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1answer
89 views

Why does Mersault say “Hello image!” to his girlfriend?

I have read the novel A Happy Death by Albert Camus. In this novel Mersault (the absurd hero) at one point says to his girlfriend, "Hello, image!". I am wondering why he calls his girlfriend "image". ...
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2answers
167 views

Three Musketeers - the diamond studs

The plot of the first part of The Three Musketeers revolves around 12 diamond studs that Queen Anne d'Autriche gives to the Duke of Buckingham. What exactly were those studs? I mean, what was this ...
5
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1answer
176 views

Can the apparent age discrepancies in The Count of Monte Cristo be reconciled?

(Note: all emphases in quoted passages below are mine.) Continuing the theme of confusing mathematics in The Count of Monte Cristo, here is another example that stymies me: When Edmond Dantès is ...
18
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1answer
2k views

Can the Count of Monte Cristo's calculation of poison dosage be explained?

In Chapter Fifty-Two of The Count of Monte Cristo there is a discussion between the titular count and Madame de Villefort about exposing oneself to poisons: “Well,” replied Monte Cristo “suppose, ...
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Are the homoerotic hints in “La Reine Margot” intentional?

La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas can be read as the story of two guys, and their two girlfriends: the alpha couple is Marguerite de Valois (Margot), who's having a passionate affair with the ...
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25 views

Concept of pleasure in pedagogy in Humanism? (Gargantua) [closed]

I am currently writing a paper with 'games' as a subject. One of the axes I am working on deals with games contributing to pleasure in pedagogy, and I intend to use Rabelais' concept mentioned in ...
2
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1answer
109 views

What does Camus mean by this sentence?

I read 'A happy death' by 'Albert Camus' . In this book , Mersault once said: Believe me, there is no such thing as great suffering, great regret, great memory . . . Everything is forgotten, ...
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What is meant by “pensée indétérminée” in Geneva School?

When I was learning about Geneva School critics, my tutor said that Georges Poulet and other Geneva School critics wanted to remove the biographical author although he still survives as an ...
3
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115 views

What does Camus mean by “the disastrous fact that love and desire must be expressed in the same way”?

Here is a set of lines from the book A Happy Death by Albert Camus: In the past, whenever Mersault had spent any time with one woman, he made the first gestures of commitment, he was conscious of ...
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124 views

Book about a kid that encounters a foreign girl during holidays and invents a new language

I am searching for a book I read around 10 years ago (in French). The story was about a family going on vacation (I remember a sort of camping, near the sea). The protagonist was a young boy (8-12 ...
5
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2answers
108 views

What is “Protean Ubiquity” in Proust's “Swann's Way”?

I have started reading Proust's Swann's way. On page 66 the narrator, after providing a very vivid description of aunt Leonie's house and its atmosphere, describes her state. She has gradually left ...
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224 views

What is “the sin which ruined our first parents” in The Count of Monte Cristo?

The opening of Chapter 12 of The Count of Monte Cristo describes a meeting between Villefort and his father Noirtier, on which a servant apparently attempted to eavesdrop. The passage (translation ...
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98 views

L'espérance in The Count of Monte Cristo [closed]

Why does Edmond name his ship L'espérance in the end? And why does he leave behind Mercédès and Albert?
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65 views

Why does the narrator quote a letter by a young footman near the end of Le Côté de Guermantes?

Near the end of Le Côté de Guermantes, the third volume of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, comes back from a visit to baron de Charlus and finds a letter by a young footman to a friend lying ...
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1answer
240 views

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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38 views

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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1answer
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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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85 views

Allusion by Albert Camus to another author

In Camus's essay The Sea Close By there's a sentence: This life rebellious to forgetfulness, rebellious to memory, of which Stevenson speaks. (page 5 of Penguin Classics 2013). Can anyone tell ...
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58 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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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 ...
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323 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 ...
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1answer
940 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 ...
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1answer
43 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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Why did “the human race became a small committee surrounded by affectionate animals” for Sartre in the Words?

What is Sartre's metaphor meaning in the Words when saying : "The human race became a small committee surrounded by affectionate animals." The context is when he begins to become familiar ...
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47 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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623 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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Why is the last title in Proust's “Search For Lost Time” not consistently translated as “Time Found Again”?

Marcel Proust wrote a seven-volume French novel called A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. The original French title of the last volume was Le Temps Retrouvé. It seems to me that in these titles Proust ...
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38 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 ...
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1answer
150 views

Why did Victor Hugo take several pages to say that his knowledge of Paris was woefully out of date?

At one point in Les Miserables, Victor Hugo inserted a fairly lengthy disclaimer (I don't recall the exact chapter number) explaining that his knowledge of Paris was basically accurate but several ...
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145 views

Meaning of “trente-six à soixante-huit chandelles” in Jean Ferrat's Ma France

The French singer-songwriter Jean Ferrat (1930 – 2010) wrote a number of controversial songs. One of his most beautiful songs, Ma France (1969), was banned from the radio for two years. It's last ...
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1answer
197 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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134 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
94 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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60 views

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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238 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 ...
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170 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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1answer
85 views

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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530 views

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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101 views

“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 ...
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1answer
115 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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1answer
8k 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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804 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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70 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 ...
6
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1answer
91 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 ...
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244 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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750 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 ...