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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30 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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Where can I find illustrations or miniatures of architectures described in Balzac's stories? [closed]

Suppose I want to replicate those buildings or entire districts in another part of the world in the hope that similar stories will also take place. Where can I find those blueprints and city plans ...
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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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63 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 ...
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1answer
281 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 ...
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3answers
864 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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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 ...
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1answer
100 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 ...
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1answer
94 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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49 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,...
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475 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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128 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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41 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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287 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 ...
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Could you actually go around the world in 80 days?

Around the World in 80 Days is a novel be Jules Verne about an Englishman who makes a bet with some fellow club members that he can travel around the world in 80 days. Nowadays with modern flight, ...
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117 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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51 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 ...
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1answer
46 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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748 views

Which Tintin books were redrawn by Hergé?

The first nine albums were originally published in black and white, with colored editions to appear later: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (never redrawn in colour ) Tintin in the Congo Tintin in ...
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112 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 ...
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42 views

What is meant by “pensée indétérminée” in the Geneva School?

When I was learning about the 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 ...
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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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62 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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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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866 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 ...
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62 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 ...
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1answer
35 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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106 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 ...
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50 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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152 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 ...
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778 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 ...
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5k views

The significance of Lucky's speech in 'Waiting for Godot'

In Samuel Beckett's play 'Waiting for Godot', Lucky is the slave of a character called Pozzo. Unlike the other characters in the play who talk compulsively,Lucky utters just two sentences in the play, ...
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34 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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341 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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195 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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197 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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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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723 views

Why all those tangents in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables?

Anyone who's ever read Victor Hugo's immortal masterpiece Les Misérables 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 ...
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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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187 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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2answers
861 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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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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99 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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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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278 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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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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33k views

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 ...
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2answers
1k views

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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114 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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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 ...