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The accompanying volume to the Guide to French Literature: 1789 to the Present, this text traces the flow of ideas from writer to writer and the connection between literature and the other arts, and the interaction between writers and the political, social and economic circumstances of their age.
Gustave Flaubert is probably the most famous novelist of nineteenth-century France, and his best known work, Madame Bovary, is read in numerous comparative literature and French courses. His fiction set the standard to which other authors turned to learn their craft, and his cult of art and his unrelenting search for stylistic perfection inspired many later writers, such as Maupassant, Proust, Conrad, Faulkner, and Joyce. His denunciation of materialistic, corrupt society; his fascination with altered states of consciousness; his oscillation between metaphysical longings and a radical nihilism; and his deep-seated mistrust of the adequacy of words themselves anticipate the works of contemporary authors. This reference is a convenient guide to his life and writings. Included in this volume are several hundred alphabetically arranged entries on Flaubert's individual works and major characters; historical persons and events that shaped his life; the themes that run throughout his writings; the critical approaches employed by scholars studying his works; and related topics of interest. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and most close with a brief bibliography. All of his major works are treated at length, and the volume mentions nearly every unpublished project of his that has a title. The book concludes with a selected, general bibliography of major studies.
Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in 1622, the French playwright Moli^D`ere became one of the most influential dramatists of the 17th century. His comedies shaped the development of theater in Europe, inspired his contemporaries in England, and left a lasting dramatic legacy after his death in 1673. Moli^D`re has also inspired a vast body of scholarship, and recent work has dispelled many of the myths surrounding his career. This reference provides English-speaking readers with a current and comprehensive guide to his life and works. Hundreds of A-Z entries cover topics related to his life, works, and theatrical career, including: Plays; Individual characters; Historical persons; Allusions; Influences; Cultural institutions; And much more. This scrupulously researched volume relies on verifiable facts, giving scant attention to the romantic fiction surrounding the playwright. Many of the entries list works for further reading. A chronology outlines the chief events of Moli^D`re's life and his contributions to the stage. The volume concludes with a bibliography.
Though he wrote more than a century ago, French author Victor Hugo (1802-1885) continues to capture the imagination of contemporary readers both in France and around the world. In the United States, he is best remembered as the author of the novel Les Mis^D'erables (1862), which has been adapted for the stage, and of Notre-Dame-de-Paris (1831), more commonly known to Americans as The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But Hugo was also a poet and dramatist, a great religious and social thinker, and one of the most important shapers of French Romanticism. As a poet, he created new verse forms, explored historical and mythological themes, and criticized social issues of his time. Through his drama, he united prose and poetry and examined the politics of England and Spain. In all of his works, he discussed such theological and social issues as the problem of evil, the nature of war and peace, and the problems of capital punishment. The volume begins with a short biography that places Hugo within the context of 19th-century France. The biography tells of his early years during which he began to form his religious and political views, his maturation as a writer and thinker during the 1830s, and his political exile, during which he wrote some of his finest poetry. The alphabetically arranged entries that follow discuss his works, characters, themes, and ideas, as well as historical persons and places that figured prominently in his life and writings. Many of the entries cite sources of additional information, and the volume closes with a selected, general bibliography.