Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Bastille Day!

One of my lifelong interests is everything French; my background is French, I majored in French language and literature in college and I still hear or read or speak French at least once every day.

So of course I love French books!

A while ago I received a review copy of One Hundred Great French Books, by Lance Donaldson-Evans; it's a neat book, a list of one man's essentials of French literature that reads very much like a college survey of French literature. Considering that Donaldson-Evans is a professor of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania, that makes a certain amount of sense! The essays are interesting and fun to read, but it's also fun to just page through the list at the beginning of the book, checking off the books one has read. Me? While copyright considerations prevent me from reproducing the whole list, here's a selection- just the books I've read.

The Song of Roland/La chanson de Roland

Tristan and Iseult/Tristan et Iseult

The Book of the City of Ladies/Le livre de la cité des dames, by Christine de Pizan

Pantagruel, by François Rabelais

Fables, by Jean de la Fontaine

The Princess of Clèves/La princesse des Clèves, by Marie-Madeleine Pioche de la Vergne

Manon Lescaut, by Antoine-François Prévost

Letters of a Peruvian Woman/Lettres d'une Péruvienne, by Françoise de Graffigny

Candide, by Voltaire

Dangerous Liaisons/Les liaisons dangereuses, by Choderlos de Laclos (my favorite classic French novel)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Notre Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo (my favorite 19th century French novel)

Old Goriot/Père Goriot, by Balzac

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

The Flowers of Evil/Les fleurs du mal, by Charles Baudelaire

Short Stories, by Guy de Maupassant

In Search of Lost Time: "Combray"/ À la recherche du temps perdus "Combray", by Marcel Proust

Chéri, by Colette

The Little Prince/Le Petit Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Mythologies, by Roland Barthes

Moderato Cantabile, by Marguerite Duras

What about you? What are your favorite French books? There are a lot more books to this list, and these aren't necessarily my personal favorites. See last year's Bastille Day post for those.

In the mean time, have a wonderful Bastille Day and read something French!

Click here to buy One Hundred Great French Books via I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a small commission on sales.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Meryl Zegarek Public Relations.


Felicity Grace Terry said...

I love the film The Hunchback Of Notre Dame but could not get away with the book. Very disappointed with it, I thought the auther rambled on.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I really enjoyed reading recently A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, which is set in France, and I loved Dangerous Liaisons!!!!

Audrey said...

I haven't read any French literture in years (ok, decades)...except for The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I loved your list from last year and I;m going to look for this guide! Merci, Marie!

Zibilee said...

I have never read anything French, but I have always wanted to! I am going to have to choose something from your list!!

Kitten said...

I was a French major too! My all-time favorites are Madame Bovary and Le Père Goriot. I was a freak for 19th century literature!

Erika D. said...

J'adore this post (and last year's--thanks for the link!). And the Donaldson-Evans book looks like one I'll have to check out.

A number of my faves have already been mentioned, but I'll add La vie devant soi (Romain Gary, under the pseudonym of Emile Ajar); several books by Annie Ernaux (La place, La femme gelée), ditto for Patrick Modiano (Dora Bruder, Voyage de noces), and Louis Malle's screenplay for Au revoir les enfants.

And there are more, but it's been a long day and j'ai mal à la tête!

Suzanne said...

I'm impressed with myself - I've read Madame Bovary, Pere Goriot, Le Petit Prince, and (ahem) In Search of Lost Time (the whole thing!). Alas only Le Petit Prince was read in French.

I just picked up a collection of Emile Zola's stories so I'm looking forward to that.

Alexia561 said...

Happy Bastille Day!

wisteria said...

I swear in my past life I was French. When I studied music my favorite pieces were French. My coach always said I knew how to play French music with such passion. I don't know where it came from. I really should read more French literature. Your list is impressive and I might have to use it to select something. What is one of your favorites?

Mystica said...

Happy Bastille Day to you! I was watching Tour de France last night (I love the tour) and the commentator was saying that it was a must that a Frenchman must win this particular section on Bastille Day!!!

Tamara said...

Happy Bastille Day also... Great inspirational post - what a list of reads. I've read le comte de monte christo, le petit prince and currently reading L'etranger by albert camus en francaise. I'm looking forward to Madame Bovary read a long later this year. and I didn't do french at school or uni, but I've been trying for the past 6 years (with much fun and wine along the way). Also watching le tour with a passion...

Mrs. Fry said...

I would like to have a list of modern French authors that have been translated into English.

do you know of one?

Marie Cloutier said...

Petty, oh well :-) it's not for everyone.

Coffee, Dangeous Liasions is so awesome.

Audrey, de rien!

Zibilee, I'll bet you have, even if you didn't realize it :-)

Erika- merci!

Suzanne, be sure to tell me what you think of the Zola!

Alexia- and to you!

Mystica- LOL!

Tamara- :)

Brenda, you might try looking at publishers that do a lot of translations, like Europa Editions or Other Press, for ideas.