Greatest french book... ever... ( this is not a hitlist - this is not a hitlist- this is not a Aaarg
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The Plague by Camus Albert
The Fall by A. Camus
A Happy Death by Camus A.
The First Man by Camus
Exile and the Kingdom by le petit Albert
Betwixt and between by la société A. Camus
The Myth of Sisyphus by Alberto Camelloto
Nuptials by Albertine Camusette
The Rebel by el senor Kaasmuis
The others you can fill in as you wish
Drop Celine for Balzac.
Add Rabelais, Robbe-Grillet and Duras.
Très fab. Dark scary gothic hermetic philosophy. I was biting my nails in terror throughout the entire read. Ask DavidX.
Proust-Flaubert-Hugo and Celine
Balzac yes, Stendhal...yes
top it with Diderot and Pierre de marivaux
I would sugest Gide but he is a bit boring Why not Huysmans or Samuell Beckett ?
Rabelais, Rabelais, Rabelais. All is a footnote to Rabelais. Well, all except La Fontaine.
I have not read Gracq, but he is on my TBR list, so there is a list there somewhere for him.
Celine was a nasty bastard but his book " Voyage au bout de la nuit " is superb and really one of a kind. The passion with which it is written is breath taking.
But I suspect you would like Herta Muller if you like Celine. I'm not so sure he's one of a kind.
Celine, Muller ( ? ), Ezra Pound etc
Please, spell it correctly:
(you were right on the middle word).
Edit: I was wrong on the first word...
(Yeah, those 18-th century guys really mean something for me (OK, Montaigne lived in another century... but somehow, for me, he's into enlightenment avant la lettre))
you are not only great, you are also hilarious.
I could go along with the list in #1. I would also be prepared to make a list consisting only of the works of Balzac.
The one in #17 if we insist on variety.
Nobody in all these posts has mentioned Zola.
Balzac, Old Goriot
Flaubert, Madame B
Sartre, The Age of Reason
Genet, Miracle of the Rose
Zola, L'Assommoir (anyone know why the title of this is seemingly never translated?)
Dumas, The Three Musketeers
and I wanted to leave the last spot for a French philosopher,but the names are crowding in hard and fast . . . I think I have to give it to Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaux, because it succeeds better as metaphor story than say Discipline and Punish or Of Grammatology
Two that should definitely have been on the list:
Moliere, especially for The Doctor in Spite of Himself--the only one of his that I have seen a production of (in English and more an adaptation than a literal translation, with Zero Mostel in the title role.) AND RABELAIS, agreeing with some of the above posts (and contrary to one of them.)
AND Claude Emmanuel Pastoret,
(1756-1844) historian and proto-anthropologist, especially for his Zoroastre, Confucius, et Mohammed of which I have done a translation.
On Les M. I should note that Hugo was better known, in his own time, as a poet than as a novelist. And for sheer sound-effects, some of his poems far outdo those of the poets I listed.
Some that I considered but who didnʻt finally "make the cut" for the list:
Voltaire: (his Candide is worthy of at least an Honorable Mention listing. And, I donʻt know the title of it, but he wrote something similar to the later JʻAccuse by Zola -- and, in the 18th c., was probably taking a greater risk than Zola.)
Honorable Mention also to Racine, especially for his Athalie and Brittanicus, to Francois Villon the 15th c. poet, and to Jules Laforgue, the
19th c. poet.
If I were re-writing my list (#43), Dumasʻs The Man in the Iron Mask would be on my "Honorable Mention" list. I read it in Tonga in the 80s. A lot of books find their way to those islands, and a lot more donʻt. I could get a hold of "Iron mask" only in a not very up to date English translation that was in our university library. On the other hand, on a visit to Tonga, in 2004, I bought the original French of Verneʻs LʻIle Mysterieuse in a small book & magazine shop which didnʻt exist when I lived in Tonga. I gave the Verne to our Public Library system here in Hawaiʻi; it has a small French Language collection.
His Count of Monte Cristo definitely wouldnʻt be on my list, because I hate "revenge" yarns. (Every time I catch someone writing one, I swear I will "get" them before I die! Grr ! and I donʻt mean get their book for my library!)
His short novels The Black Tulip and The Corsican Brothers were good. His Queen Margot has been on my TBR (which is only in my head, not on paper) for a long time.
- The Little Prince (hey I SAID I was a sentimental fool) (I also loved Terre des Hommes by the same author)
- Proust Un Amour de Swann (only Proust I ever read so I am so waiting for the Proust read next summer)
- Poetry. I like so many French poets particularly:
* Hugo - Les Orientales
* Baudelaire - Les Fleurs du Mal
* Verlaine and Rimbaud (don't remember names of poetry books)
- Stendhal, the Red & The Black (read this in English though)
-Malraux, La condition humaine
- and of course Camus, L'etranger
I am a French Lit major....
De la musique avant toute chose,
Et pour cela préfère l'Impair
Plus vague et plus soluble dans l'air,
Sans rien en lui qui pèse ou qui pose.
Il faut aussi que tu n'ailles point
Choisir tes mots sans quelque méprise
Rien de plus cher que la chanson grise
Où l'Indécis au Précis se joint.
C'est des beaux yeux derrière des voiles,
C'est le grand jour tremblant de midi,
C'est, par un ciel d'automne attiédi,
Le bleu fouillis des claires étoiles !
Car nous voulons la Nuance encor,
Pas la Couleur, rien que la nuance !
Oh ! la nuance seule fiance
Le rêve au rêve et la flûte au cor !
Fuis du plus loin la Pointe assassine,
L'Esprit cruel et le rire impur,
Qui font pleurer les veux de l'Azur,
Et tout cet ail de basse cuisine !
Prends l'éloquence et tords-lui son cou !
Tu feras bien, en train d'énergie,
De rendre un peu la Rime assagie.
Si l'on n'y veille, elle ira jusqu'où ?
0 qui dira les torts de la Rime !
Quel enfant sourd ou quel nègre fou
Nous a forgé ce bijou d'un sou
Qui sonne creux et faux sous la lime ?
De la musique encore et toujours !
Que ton vers soit la chose envolée
Qu'on sent qui fuit d'une âme en allée
Vers d'autres cieux à d'autres amours.
Que ton vers soit la bonne aventure
Éparse au vent crispé du matin
Qui va fleurant la menthe et le thym...
Et tout le reste est littérature.
I too enjoyed the Mysterious Island!
All lists are in alphabetical order.
Vivien(English, but she lived in Paris and wrote in french)
I haven't gotten to Apollinaire yet. I'm embarrassed to admit it.
Villiers de l'Isle-Adam
I know that's way too many. I did the best I could.
I'm not saying anyone should alter their own list. I think it's fun and useful to compare favorites.
I love The Little Prince too. I'm also a sentimental fool...with some issues. Jules Verne is a childhood favorite I still have great fondness for.
Jean Genet is my saint. My number one and two novels, in any language, would be The Thief's Journal and Miracle of the Rose.
A Rebours and La Bas by J.K. Huysmans would be next after Genet's novels.
Baudelaire is the greatest poet of all time, excepting Homer, Nerval was the most beautiful soul who ever lived, and Theophile Gautier and Alexandre Dumas are the two figures in literature I would most like to have dinner with. They were such jolly, charming fellows.
I am a Dumas fanatic. The Marie Antoinette series is my favorite.
Marie Antoinette Series:
the Memoirs of a Physician1589632133
The Queens Necklace1589632095
Taking the Bastille1589632389
The Countess de Charney1589632303
The Chevalier de Maison Rouge158963229x
Of his other novels Georges and Le Reine Margot stand out as favorites. I also love his non-fiction Celebrated Crimes.
What do you think of Our Lady of the Flowers? Where does it rate among Genet's work?
My ranking of the Genet novels.
The Thief's Journal
Miracle of the Rose
Our Lady of the Flowers
Prisoner of Love
Divine of John Water's fame got her/his name from Lady Divine in Our Lady of the Flowers incidentally.
(a) Awed (by the scope of his knowledge of French lit);
(b) Ignorant and unread;
(c) Eager (to get reading) (while checking pockets soon to be emptied by amazon et al.);
(d) Eager (to draft DavidX for next summer's "Proust Cabal");
(e) All of the above.
So, David, are any of those Dumas books appropriate to read to a 9 year old whose recent books include Journey to the West, the Illiad and Gilgamesh? Or should I stick with the Count and the Musketeers? And could some of that Marie Antoinette series be appropriate for reading with a 12 year girl who is crazy about history?
A rebours is a tasty novel, but La Bas? For me, Houellebecq's Atomised has more literary merit than La Bas among the shock-lit genre, not that I think it's especially good.
For myself, I'd want Laclos's Les Liasons Dangereuses.
Not much contemporary French literature among the suggestions so far, so what about Marie Darrieussecq and Andrei Makine?
One of the great French authors that gets overlooked has to be Romain Gary. Very famous in France but not well known outside. His Les Racines du ciel (The Roots of Heaven) is just extraordinary reading. Unfortunately he hasn't been re-published in English since about 1950 or so so you have to find used copies on amazon, etc... But should not be missed!
For modern authors I think JMG Le Clezio needs some mention. Patrick Modiano is also very famous in France and deserves mention.
For the classics I have to go with Dumas and Hugo (Les Mis is great but Notre-Dame is quite incredible) as my favorites.
I've read a lot of other modern French lit but, although quite good, I don't know if they belong amongst "the greats!".
I'm not so sure about Le Clezio (though I've only read him in translation). Although I guess that on the basis of his Nobel Prize we can expect him to do something great in the future.
It's a cheap joke, sorry.
That's why though I only said Le Clezio needed mention and not Hugo-like praise. I'm quite partial to Le Clezio's "L'africain" but only because it gave me a wonderful glimpse into my mother's childhood growing up in Senegal.
The Savage Detective
By J. M. G. Le CLÉZIO
Claude Lévi-Strauss, the last great French philosopher, reshaped the simple art of gathering information about so-called primitives.
Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame is another favorite from childhood. I reread it a couple of years ago and it was every bit as wonderful as I remembered it. I have not yet read Les Mis.
I read Swann's Way years ago but have yet to read the rest of In Search of Lost Time. It is on my life goal list.
Moby Dick was my favorite book when I was eleven. But Clarel I will never read, I assure you. Life is much too short.
I have read none of these contemporary authors. I very rarely read something by a living author. Just because there are so many incredible dead authors left for me to read. I will make note of the modern authors mentioned for my I should probably make myself read this list.
It is not so much the shock factor of La Bas that I like. It is Huysmans beautiful writing. The bit about the bell ringer is my favorite part. I have had a crush on Huysmans since I was a teen.
A_Musing, I am very impressed that your 9 year old is reading The Iliad. I have hope for the future now.
Sadly, I cannot read or speak a word of French. I hope to learn enough before I die to read a few lines of my beloved Baudelaire in the original language.
I am a self educated art school drop out. You are all much smarter than me. What I do have is passion and enthusiasm for great literature and art.
I think these lists are very helpful as recommended reading lists. Maybe not limiting them to a top ten is a good idea.
Behind me on a bulletin board I have an Einstein quote: "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."
That is in reference to your self-deprecating "I only have passion and enthusiasm". THAT is what it takes, man. You have that, and there are no limits.
Thank you for sharing your passion and enthusiasm. We are richer for it.
Celine belongs on the list too. He was a very nasty man and a great writer. Journey to the Edge of the Night and Death on the Installment Plan are important books because they are so uniquely unrepentantly hateful and so well written. On my bad mood days I channel Celine.
I will add Camus for Mac. I left him off my list because he was jealous of Genet because Sartre called Genet the greatest writer of the twentieth century and for that I had to punish him.
And A-Void looks awesome. I must order a copy.
70. Hidey ho Porius. Cathedral is exquisite. The description of Chartres and it's history in the beginning used to be published as a pamphlet for tourists visiting the cathedral. I would love to find one of those. I want to be des Essientes/Durtal.
I left off philosophers entirely. The greatest poets, novelists, playwrights, and philosophers are french. This list could go on and on and on.
Re: The Count of Monte Cristo.
Just before writing Monte Cristo, Dumas wrote Georges. It's the story of the son of a mulatto(like Dumas) planter in the Isle de France. He strikes the son of the wealthiest white planter on the island for insulting his father and treating him as an inferior because of his race and is sent away to France by his father for his protection. He rises to the top of French society and later returns to Isle de France to avenge the social injustice done to his family. It is a story about avenging social injustice, like Monte Cristo. Which is something, I, and many other people relate to, hence the popularity.
I didn't mean to leave Hugo of my list, likely the result of synaptic failure(brain fart).
I had to correct this post because I inadvertantly wrote Notre Dame instead of Chartres as Huysmans Cathedral. Which I take as a sign it's time to reread it.
I read A-Void years ago and thought little other than how clever Perec obviously was. It's an impressive formal exercise but beyond that I didn't think so much of it. The collection of Perec's essays and fragments - 'Species of spaces and other pieces' - is worth a look.
Claude Levi-Strauss was a surprisingly entertaining writer, if not exactly a philosopher - his Tristes Tropiques is a great read, especially in conjunction with Derrida's Of Grammatology (though you probably all already know this). I was lucky enough to attend a Derrida lecture... he was obviously peddling the same line on just about everything in his final years, and he admitted as much, but he was also funny - something I hadn't expected.
Philosophers - Simone de Beauvoir and Simone Weil anyone?
Have Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot been mentioned yet?
There are just so many great french authors, poets, playwrights, and philosophers. These lists may have to break up into subcategories.
As to Simone Weil. There are several collections, some focusing on the more religious/mystical writings (which aren't really my taste - eg 'Gravity and Grace') and others on the more broadly secular. I'd recommend her essay on the Iliad - The Iliad, or the poem of force and Oppression and Liberty.
A good general collection is that edited by Sian Miles.
Thank you for the information on Simone Weil. I'll put it to good use.
"Journey to the Edge of the Night and Death on the Installment Plan are important books because they are so uniquely unrepentantly hateful and so well written."
I agree. And when I'm in the mood for essays, Montaigne.
For phenomenogy: Henri Bergson
For so-called mystery, or novels of detection: Sebastien Japrisot, though perhaps because I've read him more recently than others, including Simenon, and was surprised that he's not as well known as he should be. Jean-Claude Izzo is okay too.
For lucidity, Camus, of course, and, because he is so obscure, Henri de Monfreid, who wrote (I've read) 89 books, only one of which has been translated into English: Adventures of a Red Sea Smuggler, also published, simply, as Hashish.
Her essays The Power of Words and Human Personality are also notable works.
And Tomcatmurr: she was an exemplary individual who fought oppression her entire life and died because of her compassion for others and her inability to shake her sense of responsibility. A little respect, I think, is owed to her.
Encore un effort, les scribouillards!
doubt, to my mind that Albert Camus (who was
of Algerian Birth, and was part Spanish) is the
greatest French writer of them all
Hi, Roland--fascinating choice (see >1 Macumbeira:), I hope they'll bite, les Camuseaux...
Brilliant observation, dypaloh! Dead centre on the missing link between the glory that was Al-Andalus and the starry gutter of Rimbaud.
What can Camusolini teach us about the difficulties of reconciling the franks and les beurs today, we wonder...
Does it not worry you Mac that we still haven't identified the best French book... do you suppose... it might have been... whispers ***written by a Belgian***
But writers ? Let me think...Georges Simenon ? Marguerite Yourcenar ?