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French Literature: A Very Short Introduction

1 rating: 5.0
A book by John D. Lyons

The heritage of literature in the French language is rich, varied, extensive in time and space, and appealing both to its immediate public--readers of French--and also to a global audience reached through translations and film adaptations. The first … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: John D. Lyons
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
1 review about French Literature: A Very Short Introduction

One of the best introductions to literature

  • Jun 3, 2010
This book is exactly what books in the "Very Short Introduction" series ought to be like - concise, informative, to the point, told from a point of view of someone who is clearly knowledgeable and passionate about his or her area of expertise, etc., etc. I don't often get to read books in this series where I am almost completely unfamiliar with the subject matter, so when I started reading this one I really didn't know what to expect. What I did find was a very readable and interesting introduction to one of the World's oldest and richest literary traditions. It exposed me to many works of literature over the last thousand of years that I had either never heard of before, or was only superficially familiar with. This introduction emphasizes the historical circumstances under which those literary works were written, and how themes in those works were influenced by those circumstances. However, and to the author's credit, this introduction does not try to make literature into something that is predominantly concerned with social criticism. In particular, you will not find any references to any of the -isms that have come to dominate literary theories in recent decades. This is a book about literature first and foremost, written for people who want to learn more about it.

In a book of this length it is not possible to give any longer excerpts from literary works. Nonetheless, there are quite a few quotes, in both French and English, that help reader get a better sense of those works. A few shorter poems are even included in their entirety. These excerpts, short that they are, really help one get a better sense about the works that they come from.

This was an eminently readable book and I was unable to put it down. After finishing it I immediately put several of the books that were mentioned herein on my reading list. This is exactly what the best of there "short introduction" books should do - want to go out and read more about the topic that they cover.

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