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A History of French Literature : From Chanson de geste to Cinema - David Coward

A History of French Literature

From Chanson de geste to Cinema

By: David Coward (Editor)

Paperback Published: 1st July 2003
ISBN: 9781405117364
Number Of Pages: 636

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This magnificent volume provides a complete history of the literature of France from its origins to the present day, taking us beyond traditional definitions of ‘literature' into the world of the best-seller and, beyond words, to graphic fiction and cinema


  • Presents a definitive history of the literature of France from its origins to the present day.
  • Incorporates coverage of Francophone writing in Europe, Canada, the West Indies and North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Links the development of literature to the mentalities and social conditions which produced it.
  • Takes us beyond “literature” to study graphic fiction, cinema and the bestseller.
  • Maps the rise of the Intellectual, and in so doing charts a progression from literary doctrine to critical theory.

Industry Reviews

"David Coward's new History is heroically comprehensive and shrewdly concise, generously accommodating in its definition of the subject, yet wisely discriminating in its detailed assessments. As the new millennium gets under way, it will surely be not only an essential guide but a lasting source of renewable pleasure for anyone interested in the literature and culture of France." Times Literary Supplement


"In its breadth, depth, concision and sophistication of analysis, this book is an exceptional achievement. Neglecting neither Francophone nor gender-specific literature, this single-volume history of a thousand years of French writing and culture is a tour de force." Choice

"Covering in varying depth everything down to modern gay, regional, and francophone writing, this approachable and clearly written book can be read front to back or a given strand can be followed through by moving through the headings classifying genres: theatre, poetry, etc." Modern Language Review

"[...] Coward comes into his element, and provides an invaluable synthesis of where French is now and where it is going. A whole raft of mainstream and marginal writing is presented and evaluated, and it is here that those of us who teach French find ourselves pedagogically the most deeply in Coward's debt." The Times Higher Education Supplement

"The concise discussion of structuralism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, and deconstruction will be of use to many students of literature." World Literature Today

Preface xxii

1 THE MIDDLE AGES 1

Introduction 1

Hagiography 6

The chanson de geste 7

Lyric poetry to Rutebeuf 10

Romance 12

Comic realism 17

The literature of devotion, moral reflection and information 19

Learning and ideas 22

Theatre 23

Later lyric poetry 25

Fifteenth-century ‘modernism’ 26

Conclusion 30

2 THE RENAISSANCE 32

The Age of Fran├žois I 32

The Generation of the Pleiade 50

Literature during the Wars of Religion 65

3 THE CLASSICAL AGE 79

Writers and Their Public 80

The Elaboration of the Classical Ideal 85

The Rise of Rationalism 90

Literature 96

The Crisis of Confidence 122

4 THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT 131

Introduction 131

Writers and Their Public 133

The Rise of the ‘Philosophic’ Spirit 138

The Social Programme of the Enlightenment 145

Literature 160

Literature and the Revolution (1789–99) 194

5 THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 198

Introduction 198

Writers and Their Public 199

Movements and Schools 206

Literature 232

6 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY 298

Writers and Their Public 299

From Literary Doctrine to Critical Theory 307

The Rise of the Intellectual 316

Literature 339

7 BEYOND IMAGINATION, GENDER AND THE METROPOLE 410

Biography 411

Autobiography 412

Women’s Writing 417

Gay Writing 424

Francophone Writing 426

8 BEYOND ‘LITERATURE’ 446

The Best-seller 447

French Humorous Writing 467

Regional Literature 482

The Roman Policier 503

9 BEYOND WORDS 518

The Roman-photo: Graphic Fiction 519

La Bande Dessinee 523

The Cinema 533

Conclusion 558

Bibliography 560

Index 566

ISBN: 9781405117364
ISBN-10: 1405117362
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 636
Published: 1st July 2003
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.96 x 15.52  x 3.42
Weight (kg): 0.87
Edition Number: 1

Earn 161 Qantas Points
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