World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

French literature

Article Id: WHEBN0000172553
Reproduction Date:

Title: French literature  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of Walt Disney Animation Studios films, Jean Racine, French and Francophone literature, Shōhei Ōoka, Belgian literature
Collection: French Literature
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

French literature

French and
francophone literature

French literature
By category
French language

French literary history

16th century17th century
18th century19th century
20th centuryContemporary

Francophone literature

Francophone literature
Literature of Quebec
Postcolonial literature
Literature of Haiti

French language authors

Chronological list

French writers

Short story writers




Science FictionComics


Nouveau roman
Theatre of the Absurd

Criticism & Awards

Literary theoryCritics
Literary prizes

Most visited



French language
Francophone literature

This article is a general introduction to French literature. For detailed information on French literature in specific historic periods, see the separate historical articles in the template to the right.

French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens of other nations such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, etc. is referred to as Francophone literature. As of 2006, French writers have been awarded more Nobel Prizes in Literature than novelists, poets and essayists of any other country. France itself ranks first in the list of Nobel Prizes in literature by country.

French literature has been for French people an object of national pride for centuries, and it has been one of the most influential components of the literature of Europe.[1][2]

The French language is a romance dialect derived from Latin and heavily influenced principally by Celtic and Frankish. Beginning in the 11th century, literature written in medieval French was one of the oldest vernacular (non-Latin) literatures in western Europe and it became a key source of literary themes in the Middle Ages across the continent.

Although the European prominence of French literature was eclipsed in part by vernacular literature in Italy in the 14th century, literature in France in the 16th century underwent a major creative evolution, and through the political and artistic programs of the Ancien Régime, French literature came to dominate European letters in the 17th century.

In the 18th century, French became the literary lingua franca and diplomatic language of western Europe (and, to a certain degree, in America), and French letters have had a profound impact on all European and American literary traditions while at the same time being heavily influenced by these other national traditions Africa, and the far East have brought the French language to non-European cultures that are transforming and adding to the French literary experience today.

Under the aristocratic ideals of the ancien régime (the "honnête homme"), the nationalist spirit of post-revolutionary France, and the mass educational ideals of the Third Republic and modern France, the French have come to have a profound cultural attachment to their literary heritage. Today, French schools emphasize the study of novels, theater and poetry (often learnt by heart). The literary arts are heavily sponsored by the state and literary prizes are major news. The Académie française and the Institut de France are important linguistic and artistic institutions in France, and French television features shows on writers and poets (one of the most watched shows on French television was Apostrophes,[3] a weekly talk show on literature and the arts). Literature matters deeply to the people of France and plays an important role in their sense of identity.

As of 2006, French literary people have been awarded more Nobel Prizes in Literature than novelists, poets and essayists of any other country. Writers in English (USA, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Nigeria & Saint Lucia) have won twice as many Nobels as the French. In 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he declined it, stating that "It is not the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize winner. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form."[4]


  • French Nobel Prize in Literature winners 1
  • French literary awards 2
  • Key texts 3
    • Fiction 3.1
    • Poetry 3.2
    • Theatre 3.3
    • Nonfiction 3.4
  • Literary criticism 4
  • Poetry 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

French Nobel Prize in Literature winners

For most of the 20th century, French authors had more Literature Nobel Prizes than those of any other nation.[5] The following French or French language authors have won a Nobel Prize in Literature:

French literary awards

Key texts





Literary criticism


See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ French literature Discover France
  2. ^ Romance languages and literatures: why study French ? University of Michigan
  3. ^ Roger Cohen, "The Media Business; Books Star on TV, but Only in France", The New York Times, September 10, 1990.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ National Literature Nobel Prize shares 1901–2009 by citizenship at the time of the award and by country of birth. From J. Schmidhuber (2010), Evolution of National Nobel Prize Shares in the 20th Century at arXiv:1009.2634v1
  6. ^ Prix des Critiques

Further reading

  • A New History of French Literature, ed. by Denis Hollier, Harvard University Press, 1989, 1150 pp.
  • The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, ed. by Peter France, Oxford University Press, 1995, 926 pp., ISBN 0-19-866125-8
  • Sarah Kay, Terence Cave, Malcolm Bowie: A Short History of French Literature [Paperback], Oxford University Press, 2006, 356 pp., ISBN 0-19-929118-7

External links

  • French Language & Literature Resources at Yale University
  • Littérature francophone virtuelle (ClicNet) online texts
  • Athena Textes Français online texts
  • The Marandet Collection of French Plays
  • ABU online texts
  • Digital LibrarianFrench Literature at
  • Jean-Michel Maulpoix & Co.: Modern and contemporary French literature site maintained by prominent French poet Jean-Michel Maulpoix
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.