French literature (#3)

Some books illustrating various episodes of French history

Some novels, in addition to the high literary quality which made them famous, give an accurate idea of their historical context. Here are a few examples :

  •  14th century
    • Les Rois Maudits (Maurice DRUON) : the disastrous period before the Hundred-Year war ; a remarkable saga
  • 15th century
    • Notre-Dame de Paris (Victor HUGO) : the story of the hunchback of Notre-Dame in the days of King Louis XI
  • 16th century
    • L'oeuvre au noir (Marguerite YOURCENAR) : the life of an alchimist in the Renaissance
    • La Reine Margot (Alexandre DUMAS) : murders at the court
  • 17th century
    • Les trois mousquetaires (Alexandre DUMAS) : Paris and the court at the time of the regency of Cardinal Richelieu
    • L'allée du roi (Françoise CHANDERNAGOR) : life at the court of the Sun King
  • 18th century
    • Les chouans (Honoré de BALZAC) : the counter-revolutionary upheaval and the cruel repression which destroyed the Vendée region in 1793-95
  • 19th century
    • La chartreuse de Parme (STENDHAL) the battle of Waterloo and the fall of Napoleon
    • Les chevaux du soleil (Jules ROY) : the story of the colonization of Algeria 1830-1962
  • 20th century
    • Les Thibaults (Roger MARTIN du GARD) : the story of a family at the begining of 20th c. ; one of the best description of the efforts of the Socialists to avoid the break out of WW1
    • Les croix de bois (Roland DORGELES) or Le feu (Henri BARBUSSE) : the horror of WW1
    • Les grandes familles (Maurice DRUON) : the upper class and the banking world in the 1920s
    • Week-end à Zuydcoote (Robert MERLE) : the defeat of the French army in 1940
    • Au Bon Beurre (Jean DUTOURD) : the story of a profiteer grocer in Paris under German occupation
    • Les chemins de la liberté (Jean Paul SARTRE) : after WW2, the intellectuals and political commitment

See also a list of American movies and French movies on episode of French history.

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 Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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