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French literature facts for kids

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French literature is the literature of France. It also includes literature that is written in French, even if the writer is not from France. There are countries besides France where French is also spoken. These countries include Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Senegal, Algeria, and Morocco. Works that are written in French but not from France are called Francophone literature.

History of French literature

The French language grew out of Latin. French is a Romance language, related to other languages like Spanish and Italian. French was also influenced by the Celtic and Frankish languages.

, naturalism, the "roman-fleuves" of Balzac, Zola and Proust, surrealism, existentialism, and the "theater of the absurd".

French imperialism and colonialism in the Americas, 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 (the most watched show in French history was Apostrophes, 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, although writers in English have won twice as many Nobels as the French.-->

French Nobel Prize in Literature winners

The following French or French language authors have won a Nobel Prize in Literature:

Selected list of French literary classics


  • Middle Ages
    • anonymous - La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland)
    • Chrétien de Troyes - Yvain ou le Chevalier au Lion (Yvain, the Knight of the Lion), Lancelot, ou le Chevalier à la charrette (Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart)
    • various - Tristan et Iseult (Tristan and Iseult)
    • anonymous - Lancelot-Graal (Lancelot-Grail), also known as the prose Lancelot or the Vulgate Cycle
    • Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung - Roman de la Rose ("Romance of the Rose")
  • 16th century
    • François Rabelais - Pantagruel, Gargantua
  • 17th century
  • 18th century
  • 19th century
    • Stendhal - Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma)
    • Honoré de Balzac - La Comédie humaine ("The Human Comedy", a novel cycle which includes Père Goriot and Eugénie Grandet)
    • Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary, Salammbô, L'Éducation sentimentale (Sentimental Education)
    • Edmond and Jules de Goncourt - Germinie Lacerteux
    • Guy de Maupassant - Bel Ami, La Parure (The Necklace), other short stories
    • Émile Zola - Les Rougon-Macquart (a novel cycle which includes L'Assommoir, Nana and Germinal)
  • 20th century




Literary criticism


Related pages

  • French culture
  • French art
  • List of French language authors
  • List of French language poets
  • French science fiction
  • Fantastique

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French literature Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.