By David Coward
This significant quantity offers a whole heritage of the literature of France from its origins to the current day, taking us past conventional definitions of ‘literature' into the realm of the best-seller and, past phrases, to photo fiction and cinema
• offers a definitive historical past of the literature of France from its origins to the current day.
• contains assurance of Francophone writing in Europe, Canada, the West Indies and North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
• hyperlinks the advance of literature to the mentalities and social stipulations which produced it.
• Takes us past “literature” to check picture fiction, cinema and the bestseller.
• Maps the increase of the highbrow, and in so doing charts a development from literary doctrine to severe theory.
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Extra resources for A History of French Literature: From Chanson de geste to Cinema
Symbolic representations of human behaviour gravitated towards allegory, which was well established as a central device of Christian and moral writing by the time Guillaume de Digulleville wrote his three Pèlerinages (1330–58). But the emphasis on man in his relations not only with God but with other men also gave a new urgency to his place in the world. New genres sprang up to accommodate a new spirit of curiosity: the ‘bestiary’ (in which animals conveyed Christian truths and moral lessons), the miroir, which gave advice to princes, women and soldiers, didactic songes, moralistic chastiements, collections of sententious proverbes au vilain and compilations on all manner of subjects.
A few examples on profane subjects have survived, like Le Mystère de la destruction de Troie la Grant (1452), the ﬁrst theatrical representation in French of the ancient world. 1450), the life and death of Christ. Performed, often over several days, to commemorate saints’ days and mark religious festivals, they had huge casts, complex staging and special effects (ﬁreworks, trapdoors, machinery). They included apocryphal material, scenes of daily life and comic episodes involving devils, and were ﬁnanced by civic authorities or, in Paris, by the Confrérie de la Passion, ﬁrst licensed in 1401.
1447–1511) who covered the period 1464–98. Commynes wrote of what he knew in ﬂuid, non-Latinate French and did not limit himself to reporting: he casts a gloomy, ironic eye on war as politics by another means and is a shrewd observer of the men who make history. Learning and ideas The learning of the ancient world survived in French Gaul in monastic institutions. Familiarity with antiquity continued to be identiﬁed with a learned class after Charlemagne gathered scholars at his court in the ninth century.