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Great French Authors – Part 1

Talking about any great literature would have to include French literature. French writers through the centuries have written some of the best plays, poems, novels and books in history. Their combined work has left us with some of the greatest commentary of humankind, and in these blog posts we celebrate the best of the best.

Jean-Paul Sartre

One of the greatest writers of all time has to be Jean-Paul Sartre, and his well documented relationship with fellow author Simone de Beauvoir formed a bond that challenged society at the time. Sartre’s writing made many focus on social and cultural behavior, and what was acceptable and what was not. He pushed boundaries and provoked thought. One of Sartre’s biggest beliefs was that every person is in command of their own destiny, no matter of what social and economic background you come from. This rattled the cages of a French society that was based on hundreds of years of a strong and rigid status structure. Readers who want to get started with some of Sartre’s work might want to begin with No Exit.

Albert Camus

Albert Camus announced himself to the world with his groundbreaking novel The Stranger. The book is really a reflective look on two ideals that Camus was particularly strong about, philosophy of the absurd and existentialism. Camus spent a great part of his life learning and writing about these two issues. As one of the mainstays of the notorious Cafe de Flore group in Paris, Camus was influenced greatly by his literary peers such as Jean-Paul Sartre. One of his most witty quotes is; Still, obviously, one can’t be sensible all the time. This witty anecdote sort of sums up Albert Camus.

Simone de Beauvoir

Having already mentioned Jean-Paul Sartre it is impossible to ignore Simone de Beauvoir, as the two were inseparable in many ways. Both in ideas and thoughts, fellow scholars, and of course lovers. Simone de Beauvoir is a writer of such significance she cannot be ignored, her writings did not shy away from politics, or ethics and she is probably best known for her writings on feminism. If you really want to understand this fascinating author, then read The Second Sex. It is a direct attack on the roles that women have played through history, and she cites that women had been relegated to a world of immanence and a second citizen.

Marcel Proust

Proust is one of the foremost authors that France has ever produced. The novel In Search of Lost Time, is one of the classic pieces of literature that has ever been written. The novel is very much a monster piece of work at three thousand two hundred pages in length and was released in seven volumes. The theme of involuntary memory provokes most interesting thoughts, especially the episode of the Madeline.

Not only is Proust a great French writer, he is widely accepted in the elite of literary circles to be one of the most influential authors of the whole 20th Century. In part two of our literary exploration of the greatest French authors, we discover all about Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire.