Alain-Fournier, pseudonym of Henri-Alban Fournier, (born Oct. 3, 1886, La Chapelle-d'Angillon, Cher, France--killed Sept. 22, 1914, in the vicinity of Epargue, near Verdun), French writer whose only completed novel, Le Grand Meaulnes (1913; The Wanderer, or The Lost Domain), is a modern classic.Based on his happy childhood in a remote village in central France, Alain-Fournier's novel reflects his longing for a lost world of delight. The hero, an idealistic but forceful schoolboy, runs away and at a children's party in a decrepit country house meets a beautiful girl. The rest of the novel..
Paul de Kock, in full Charles-Paul de Kock, (born May 21, 1793, Passy, France--died Aug. 29, 1871, Paris), prolific French author whose novels about Parisian life were, in his day, popular reading throughout Europe.The son of a refugee Dutch banker who was guillotined during the Revolution, Kock became a bank clerk in 1808. He abandoned all thoughts of a business career that same year, after publishing at his own expense his first book, L'Enfant de ma femme. His collected works were published between 1835 and 1844. Among his most successful books were Georgette (1820), Gustave; ou, le mauvais..
Paul Adam, (born Dec. 7, 1862, Paris, France--died Jan. 1, 1920, Paris), French author whose early works exemplify the naturalist and Symbolist schools and who later won a considerable reputation for his historical and sociological novels.Publication of his first naturalist novel, Chair molle (1885), led to his being prosecuted; his second, Le The chez Miranda (1886), written with Jean Moreas, is an early example of Symbolism. Adam also founded two literary reviews in 1886: Led Carcan, with Jean Ajalbert, and the short-lived Le Symboliste, with Moreas and Gustave Kahn. In 1899, with La Force,..
Maurice-Samuel-Roger-Charles Druon, French author, politician, and man of letters (born April 23, 1918, Paris, France--died April 14, 2009, Paris), wrote plays, essays, and novels, including Les Grandes Familles (1948), which won the 1948 Prix Goncourt. For many years, however, he was best known for co-writing (with his uncle novelist Joseph Kessel) the lyrics to "Chant des partisans," the stirring unofficial anthem of France's World War II Resistance movement. Druon's other published works include a series of six related novels known collectively as Les Rois maudits (1955-60). In..
Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, (born April 6, 1671, Paris--died March 17, 1741, Brussels), French dramatist and poet who enjoyed great popularity in the witty and decadent Parisian society of his day.The son of a poor shoemaker, Rousseau as a young man showed a talent for satiric verse. He later attempted to produce several of his plays, becoming involved in a series of disputes and exchanges of insults with detractors and critics. In 1712 he was convicted of defamation because of a satirical verse that he claimed (probably truthfully) he had never written. Exiled from France, he sought refuge in Switzerland...
Paul Hervieu, in full Paul-Ernest Hervieu, (born September 9, 1857, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France--died September 25, 1915, Paris), French novelist and playwright, most of whose dramas were tragedies centring on family conflicts and relationships, intended to teach some moral lesson.After training as a lawyer, Hervieu entered the diplomatic service. Later, he began writing novels and short stories, of which the best are Flirt (1890) and Peints par eux-memes (1893). He then turned to writing plays, and for some 20 years he was associated with the Comedie-Francaise. One of his most successful..
Isaac de Benserade, (born 1612 or 1613, Normandy or Paris, France--died Oct. 20, 1691, Paris), minor French poet of the courts of Louis XIII and Louis XIV.Benserade began visiting the salon of the Marquise de Rambouillet, the literary centre of Paris, in 1634 and wrote a succession of romantic verses that won him a reputation culminating in the "sonnets controversy" of 1649, in which his sonnet "Job" was pitted against Vincent Voiture's "Uranie" in a lively court debate over poetic style. Although Benserade was adjudged the loser, he became a favourite and was repeatedly called upon to write..
Marie-Joseph de Chenier, in full Marie-Joseph-Blaise de Chenier, (born April 28, 1764, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire [now Istanbul, Turkey]--died January 10, 1811, Paris, France), poet, dramatist, politician, and supporter of the French Revolution from its early stages.The brother of the Romantic poet Andre de Chenier, Marie-Joseph attended the College de Navarre, then joined the regiment of Montmorency for two years. A member of the Convention and the Council of Five Hundred, as well as the Committee of General Security and the Committee of Public Safety, he wrote patriotic songs..
Francois Coppee, (born Jan. 26, 1842, Paris, Fr.--died May 23, 1908, Paris), French poet, dramatist, and short-story writer known for his somewhat sentimental treatment of the life of the poor.Coppee served as a clerk in the Ministry of War and was successful in 1869 with the play Le Passant. From 1871 to 1885 he was the librarian of the Comedie-Francaise, and during that time he published his best-known and most characteristic collection of verse, Les Humbles (1872). In 1884 he was elected to the Academie Francaise. In 1898, after a serious illness, he was reconverted to Roman Catholicism; that..
Petrus Borel, original name Joseph-Pierre Borel, also called Borel d'Hauterive, (born June 29, 1809, Lyon, Fr.--died July 1859, Mostaganem, Alg.), French poet, novelist, and critic active in the Romantic movement.The 12th of an ironmonger's 14 children, Borel was trained as an architect but turned to literature and became one of the most eccentric young writers of the 1830s, assuming the name of "Lycanthrope" ("Wolf-Man"). He became a leader of the group of daring writers known as Les Bousingos, among whom were Gerard de Nerval and Theophile Gautier. With the revival of interest in classical..
Jean Richepin, (born Feb. 4, 1849, Medea, Algeria--died Dec. 12, 1926, Paris, France), French poet, dramatist, and novelist who examined the lower levels of society in sharp, bold language. As Emile Zola revolutionized the novel with his naturalism, Richepin did the same for French poetry during that period.The son of a physician, Richepin began the study of medicine but gave it up in order to study literature at the Ecole Normale. He left school without a degree and for a time wandered about France. His first book of poetry, La Chanson des gueux ("Song of the Poor"), was published in 1876. Local..
Claudine-Alexandrine Guerin de Tencin, (born April 27, 1682, Grenoble, Fr.--died Dec. 4, 1749, Paris), French author and literary patroness whose associations with celebrated writers and political personalities ensured her position as one of the prominent social figures of the 18th century.Tencin became a nun early in life but soon abandoned her vows in obscure circumstances around which many legends grew. After the death of Louis XIV, she sought her fortune at court and became the mistress of Cardinal Dubois (prime minister for a time), of the regent, and of other influential men. The philosopher..
Jean Chapelain, (born Dec. 4, 1595, Paris, Fr.--died Feb. 22, 1674, Paris), French literary critic and poet who attempted to apply empirical standards to literary criticism.Chapelain's approach was a challenge to others of his day who appealed in doctrinaire fashion to classical Greek authorities. His critical views were advanced primarily in short articles and monographs and in his voluminous correspondence. Chapelain's own poetic works are considered mediocre. His epic La Pucelle ("The Maid"), which he began in 1630, was a failure when the first 12 cantos were published 26 years later...
Rene Boylesve, pseudonym of Rene-marie-auguste Tardiveau, (born April 14, 1867, La Haye-Descartes, France--died Jan. 14, 1926, Paris), French novelist noted for his social histories set in the Touraine region of west-central France from 1870 to 1900.Boylesve was educated in Poitiers, Tours, and Paris. His studies of both liberal and fine arts, of science, and of law did not lead to his entering a profession. After 10 years in unimportant jobs, he wrote, under his mother's maiden name, his first novel, Le Medecin des dames de Neans (1894; "The Doctor of the Ladies of Neans"), in which the essential..
Ernest Psichari, (born September 27, 1883, Paris, France--died August 22, 1914, Rossignol, Belgium), French writer and soldier whose works combine militaristic sentiments with a semimystical religious devotion.The grandson of the historian of ideas Ernest Renan and the son of a Greek philologist, Ioannes Psicharis (Jean Psichari), Psichari grew up in an atmosphere of liberal intellectualism. After a period of acute emotional and mental stress, he started on the long journey toward an acceptance of religious faith, encouraged by the French Catholic intellectuals Maurice Barres, Charles..
Charles-Louis Philippe, (born Aug. 4, 1874, Cerilly, France--died Dec. 21, 1909, Paris), writer of novels that describe from personal experience the sufferings of the poor.Philippe was the son of a shoemaker; he was ambitious to become an army officer but was refused entry to the Ecole Polytechnique in 1894 because of his slight physique. He finally found employment in the Paris municipal service as a shop inspector.His novels either describe the Paris poor or are set in his native province of Bourbonnais. Of the first group, the most notable is Bubu de Montparnasse (1901), which tells the story..
Louis Hemon, (born October 12, 1880, Brest, France--died July 8, 1913, near Chapleau, Ontario, Canada), French author of Maria Chapdelaine, the best-known novel of French Canadian pioneer life.After a few years in England as a journalist and sportswriter, Hemon went to Canada in 1911 and, while working as a farmhand, completed Maria Chapdelaine. The book is a realistic presentation of the struggle of men and women faced with the inhospitable soil and climate of the Lake St. John area in Quebec. Though there was some resentment over Hemon's failure to idealize French Canadian life, the book..
Jean-Francois Marmontel, (born July 11, 1723, Bort-les-Orgues, France--died Dec. 31, 1799, Normandy), French poet, dramatist, novelist, and critic who is remembered for his autobiographical work Memoires d'un pere.In 1745, encouraged by Voltaire, Marmontel settled in Paris. He composed tragedies in the manner of Voltaire and libretti of operas for composers Jean-Philippe Rameau, Andre-Ernest-Modeste Gretry, Niccolo Piccinni, and Luigi Cherubini. His Contes moraux (1761; "Moral Stories") are more original. He first published them separately in the Mercure de France, which he..
Catulle Mendes, (born May 22, 1841, Bordeaux, France--died Feb. 9, 1909, Paris), prolific French poet, playwright, and novelist, most noted for his association with the Parnassians, a group of French poets who advocated a controlled, formal art for art's sake in reaction to the formlessness of Romanticism.A banker's son, Mendes founded La Revue fantaisiste (1861), which became a vehicle for the late works of Theophile Gautier (whose daughter Mendes married in 1866 but left soon afterward) and such poets as Charles Baudelaire and Villiers de L'Isle-Adam. Mendes edited Le Parnasse contemporain..
Jacques Riviere, (born July 15, 1886, Bordeaux, France--died Feb. 14, 1925, Paris), writer, critic, and editor who was a major force in the intellectual life of France in the period immediately following World War I. His most important works were his thoughtful and finely written essays on the arts. In 1912 a collection of these essays was published as Etudes; a second such collection, entitled Nouvelles etudes ("Further Essays"), was published posthumously in 1947.From 1914 to 1918 Riviere was a prisoner of war in Germany; L'Allemand (1918; "The German") was based on that experience. He was..
Nicolas-Edme Restif, byname Restif De La Bretonne, (born Oct. 23, 1734, Sacy, near Auxerre, France--died Feb. 3, 1806, Paris), French novelist whose works provide lively, detailed accounts of the sordid aspects of French life and society in the 18th century.After serving his apprenticeship as a printer in Auxerre, Restif went to Paris, where he eventually set the type for some of his own works--books long prized by collectors for their rarity, quaint typography, and beautiful and curious illustrations.His novels are rambling and carelessly written. While he parades his moralistic intentions..
Valery-Nicolas Larbaud, (born Aug. 29, 1881, Vichy, Fr.--died Feb. 2, 1957, Vichy), French novelist and critic, an erudite cosmopolitan who became a literary intermediary between France and Europe, especially England and Spanish-speaking countries.Larbaud's personal fortune permitted him a life of travel and leisure. His novels and stories are largely based on personal experiences: Fermina Marquez (1911), a novel of adolescence, deals with the effects of the visit of a beautiful South American girl to a boys' school; A.O. Barnabooth (1913; Eng. trans., 1924) is the journal and verse..
Paul Bourget, in full Paul-Charles-Joseph Bourget, (born Sept. 2, 1852, Amiens, France--died Dec. 25, 1935, Paris), French novelist and critic who was a master of the psychological novel and a molder of opinion among French conservative intellectuals in the pre-World War I period.After completing his studies in philosophy, Bourget began his career as a poet, and several of his poems were set to music by Claude Debussy. Encouraged and deeply influenced by the critic Hippolyte Taine, he published a series of essays tracing the sources of contemporary pessimism to the works of Stendhal, Gustave..
Gedeon Tallemant des Reaux, (born Oct. 2, 1619, La Rochelle, Fr.--died Nov. 10, 1692, Paris), French writer of entertaining and informative Historiettes, or short biographies.The son of a Huguenot banker, Tallemant took degrees in civil and canonical law at Paris, but he abandoned his position as conseiller au parlement and began to frequent literary circles. In 1646 he married his cousin Elisabeth de Rambouillet, thus gaining entree into the elegant society of the Hotel de Rambouillet and the acquaintance of many of the leading literary figures whose lives are described in his work.The..
Andre Schwarz-Bart, (born May 23, 1928, Metz, France--died Sept. 30, 2006, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe), French novelist, author of what is regarded as one of the greatest literary works of the post-World War II period: Le Dernier des justes (1959; The Last of the Just).Schwarz-Bart's parents, Polish Jews, moved to France in 1924. By 1941, when he was 13, they had been deported and killed by the Nazis. Young Schwarz-Bart, scarcely knowing French, was active in the Resistance movement and later, while working as a marginal labourer, taught himself to read and write French from library books...
Sebastien-Roch Nicolas Chamfort, (born June 1740?, Clermont, France--died April 13, 1794, Paris), French playwright and conversationalist, famous for his wit, whose maxims became popular bywords during the French Revolution.Soon after his birth--the date of which differs between sources--Chamfort was adopted by a grocer and his wife. He later was educated as a free scholar and then supported by a worldly Parisian society that appreciated his conversational genius. His comedies La Jeune Indienne (produced 1764; "The Young Indian Girl") and Le Marchand de Smyrne (produced 1770; "The..
Etienne Pivert de Senancour, (born November 16, 1770, Paris, France--died January 10, 1846, Saint-Cloud), French author of Obermann (1804), one of several early 19th-century novels that describe the sufferings of a sensitive and tormented hero. Rediscovered some 30 years after it first appeared, the book appealed to the taste of the Romantics and their public.Senancour's father wanted him to enter the priesthood, but he fled to Switzerland in 1789 and made an unhappy marriage. His name was put on the list of emigres after the French Revolution, and he did not return to France until 1803. Following..
Michel-Jean Sedaine, (born June 2, 1719, Paris, Fr.--died May 17, 1797, Paris), French dramatist who is best known as the author of a fine domestic comedy, Le Philosophe sans le savoir (1765; "The Philosopher Without Knowledge").The son of a master builder, Sedaine began his career as a stonemason. In 1752 he published a volume of poetry, and his theatrical career began in 1756, when he wrote librettos for some light operas. He was made destitute by the French Revolution and in 1795 was deprived of his membership in the French Academy, to which he had been elected in 1786.Although he had a number..
Aloysius Bertrand, also called Louis Bertrand, in full Louis-Jacques-Napoleon Bertrand, (born April 20, 1807, Ceva, Piedmont [Italy]--died April 29, 1841, Paris, France), writer whose Gaspard de la nuit ("Gaspard of the Night") introduced the prose poem into French literature and was a source of inspiration to the Symbolist poets and later to the Surrealists.After his family settled in Dijon in 1815, Bertrand developed a consuming interest in the ancient Burgundian capital, joining the Societe d'Etudes and collecting historical material, some of which he used in early poems published..
Florent Carton Dancourt, (born Nov. 1, 1661, Fontainebleau, Fr.--died Dec. 7, 1725, Courcelles-le-Roi, near Orleans), actor and playwright who created the French comedy of manners and was one of the most popular of French dramatists before the Revolution.Born into an established bourgeois family, Dancourt was educated in Paris by Jesuits and studied law. In 1680 he married an actress, Therese de La Thorilliere. They debuted with the Comedie-Francaise in 1685, beginning an association that flourished for 33 years. Dancourt's skill as a comic actor and playwright brought him the favour..
Eugene Sue, pseudonym of Marie-joseph Sue, (born Jan. 26, 1804, Paris, France--died Aug. 3, 1857, Annecy, Savoy), French author of sensational novels of the seamy side of urban life and a leading exponent of the roman-feuilleton ("newspaper serial"). His works, although faulted for their melodramatics, were the first to deal with many of the social ills that accompanied the Industrial Revolution in France.Sue's early experiences as a naval surgeon prompted his first books, several highly coloured sea stories (e.g., Plik et Plok, 1831). He also wrote a number of historical novels and worked..
Pierre de Brantome, in full Pierre de Bourdeille, Abbe Et Seigneur (lord) de Brantome, (born c. 1540, Perigord, Fr.--died July 15, 1614, France), soldier and chronicler, author of a valuable and informative account of his own life and times.His works, characterized by frankness and naivete, consist mainly of accounts of battles or tales of chivalry. Though he is not generally considered a reliable historian, his bold, capricious character well equipped him to be a chronicler of the 16th century.Brantome was the third son of the Baron of Bourdeille. He spent his childhood at the court of Margaret..
Antoine Furetiere, (born Dec. 28, 1619, Paris--died March 14, 1688, Paris), French novelist, satirist, and lexicographer, remarkable for the variety of his writing.The son of a lawyer's clerk, Furetiere entered the legal profession but soon resigned his office and took holy orders to qualify himself for benefices, which provided an income that enabled him to pursue his literary vocation. After publishing three books of comic and satirical verse, he wrote Nouvelle Allegorique ou Histoire des derniers troubles arrives au royaume d'Eloquence (1658), a facetious survey of the contemporary..
Alain Chartier, (born c. 1385, Bayeux, Normandy, France--died c. 1433, Avignon, Provence?), French poet and political writer whose didactic, elegant, and Latinate style was regarded as a model by succeeding generations of poets and prose writers.Educated at the University of Paris, Chartier entered the royal service, acting as secretary and notary to both Charles VI and the dauphin, later Charles VII. He carried out various diplomatic missions for Charles VII, and in 1428 he was sent to Scotland to negotiate the marriage of Margaret of Scotland with the future Louis XI.His work, written..
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, (born Jan. 24, 1732, Paris, France--died May 18, 1799, Paris), French author of two outstanding comedies of intrigue that still retain their freshness, Le Barbier de Seville (1775; The Barber of Seville, 1776) and Le Mariage de Figaro (1784; The Marriage of Figaro, 1785).Although Beaumarchais did not invent the type character of the scheming valet (who has appeared in comedy as far back as Roman times), his Figaro, hero of both plays, became the highest expression of the type. The valet's resourcefulness and cunning were portrayed by Beaumarchais with..
Herve Bazin, pseudonym of Jean-Pierre-Marie Herve-Bazin, (born April 17, 1911, Angers, France--died Feb. 17, 1996, Angers), French author whose witty and satirical novels often focus on the problems within families and marriages.Herve was the great-nephew of the Roman Catholic traditionalist novelist Rene Bazin. After solid academic training, years of family conflict, and financial and professional failure, Herve, a rebel and bohemian approaching middle age, finally achieved literary fame in 1948 with the autobiographical novel Vipere au poing (Viper in the Fist). In this book he..
Alain-Rene Lesage, Lesage also spelled Le Sage, (born May 6, 1668, Sarzeau, France--died Nov. 17, 1747, Boulogne), prolific French satirical dramatist and author of the classic picaresque novel Gil Blas, which was influential in making the picaresque form a European literary fashion.Although he was orphaned at age 14 and was always quite poor, Lesage was well educated at a Jesuit college in Brittany and studied law in Paris. He was well liked in the literary salons but chose a family life over a worldly one, marrying Marie-Elisabeth Huyard in 1694. He abandoned his legal clerkship to dedicate..
Jean-Baptiste-Louis Gresset, (born Aug. 29, 1709, Amiens, Fr.--died June 16, 1777, Amiens), French poet and dramatist who received immediate and lasting acclaim for his irreverently comic narrative poem Ver-Vert (1734; Ver-Vert, or the Nunnery Parrot), describing with wit tinged with malice the adventures of a parrot who attempts to maintain his decorous convent background while on a visit to another convent.Brought up by Jesuits, Gresset was a brilliant pupil and, after entering the Jesuit order in 1726, continued his education in Paris before returning to teach in Amiens and Tours...
Julia Kristeva, (born June 24, 1941, Sliven, Bulg.), Bulgarian-born French psychoanalyst, critic, novelist, and educator, best known for her writings in structuralist linguistics, psychoanalysis, semiotics, and philosophical feminism.Kristeva received a degree in linguistics from the University of Sofia in 1966 and later that year immigrated to France on a doctoral fellowship. In Paris she worked with the structuralist and Marxist critic Lucien Goldmann, the social and literary critic Roland Barthes, and the structuralist anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. She soon became..
Paul Scarron, (baptized July 4, 1610, Paris, Fr.--died Oct. 7, 1660, Paris), French writer who contributed significantly to the development of three literary genres: the drama, the burlesque epic, and the novel. He is best known today for Le Roman comique ("The Comic Novel") and as the first husband of Francoise d'Aubigne, marquise de Maintenon, the influential second wife of King Louis XIV.Scarron's origins were bourgeois, and it was originally intended that he should enter the church. After a period in Brittany and a visit to Rome, however, Scarron settled in Paris and devoted himself to..
Marcel Ayme, (born March 29, 1902, Joigny, France--died Oct. 14, 1967, Paris), French novelist, essayist, and playwright, known as a master of light irony and storytelling.He grew up in the country among farmers, in a world of close-knit families bounded by the barnyard on one side, the schoolhouse on the other. Ayme drew most of his characters from this setting. After a short-lived attempt at a career in journalism, he launched into writing. His first novels, Brulebois (1926) and La Table-aux-creves (1929; The Hollow Field, 1933; Prix Theophraste-Renaudot), are comedies on rural life. The..
Andre de Chenier, (born Oct. 30, 1762, Istanbul--died July 25, 1794, Paris), poet and political journalist, generally considered the greatest French poet of the 18th century. His work was scarcely published until 25 years after his death. When the first collected edition of Chenier's poetry appeared in 1819, it had an immediate success and was acclaimed not only by the poets of the Romantic movement but also by the anti-Romantic liberal press. Not only was Chenier's influence felt on poetic trends throughout the 19th century but the legend of his political struggle and heroic death--celebrated..
Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, (born March 6, 1619, Paris--died July 28, 1655, Paris), French satirist and dramatist whose works combining political satire and science-fantasy inspired a number of later writers. He has been the basis of many romantic but unhistorical legends, of which the best known is Edmond Rostand's play Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), in which he is portrayed as a gallant and brilliant but shy and ugly lover, possessed (as in fact he was) of a remarkably large nose.As a young man, Cyrano joined the company of guards and was wounded at the Siege of Arras in 1640. But he gave up his military..
Joris-Karl Huysmans, original name Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans, (born Feb. 5, 1848, Paris, France--died May 12, 1907, Paris), French writer whose major novels epitomize successive phases of the aesthetic, spiritual, and intellectual life of late 19th-century France.Huysmans was the only son of a French mother and a Dutch father. At 20 he began a long career in the Ministry of the Interior, writing many of his novels on official time (and notepaper). His early work, influenced by contemporary naturalist novelists, include a novel, Marthe, histoire d'une fille (1876; Marthe), about..
Benjamin Constant, in full Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque, (born Oct. 25, 1767, Lausanne, Switz.--died Dec. 8, 1830, Paris), Franco-Swiss novelist and political writer, the author of Adolphe, a forerunner of the modern psychological novel.The son of a Swiss officer in the Dutch service, whose family was of French origin, he studied at Erlangen, Ger., briefly at the University of Oxford, and at Edinburgh. In 1787 he formed, in Paris, his first liaison, with Madame de Charriere, 27 years his senior. His republican opinions in no way suited him to the office of chamberlain to the duke of Brunswick,..
Pierre Marivaux, in full Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux, (born February 4, 1688, Paris, France--died February 12, 1763, Paris), French dramatist, novelist, and journalist whose comedies became, after those of Moliere, the most frequently performed in French theatre.His wealthy, aristocratic family moved to Limoges, where his father practiced law, the same profession for which the young Marivaux trained. Most interested in the drama of the courts, at 20 he wrote his first play, Le Pere prudent et equitable, ou Crispin l'heureux fourbe ("The Prudent and Equitable Father"). Such..
Prosper Merimee, (born Sept. 28, 1803, Paris--died Sept. 23, 1870, Cannes, Fr.), French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and master of the short story whose works--Romantic in theme but Classical and controlled in style--were a renewal of Classicism in a Romantic age.Of a cultured, middle-class Norman background, Merimee first studied law but was more devoted to learning the Greek, Spanish, English, and Russian languages and their literatures. At 19 he wrote his first play, Cromwell (1822); his close friend the novelist Stendhal encouraged him in this literary direction.A collection..
Alphonse Daudet, (born May 13, 1840, Nimes, France--died Dec. 16, 1897, Paris?), French short-story writer and novelist, now remembered chiefly as the author of sentimental tales of provincial life in the south of France.LifeDaudet was the son of a silk manufacturer. In 1849 his father had to sell his factory and move to Lyon. Alphonse wrote his first poems and his first novel at age 14. In 1857 his parents lost all their money, and Daudet had to give up his hopes of matriculating. His work as an usher at a school at Ales for six unhappy months culminated in his dismissal but later furnished the theme,..
Robert Pinget, prolific Swiss-born French novelist and playwright who was associated with the nouveau roman movement and was best known for his plays, which showcased his mastery of the use of dialogue (b. July 19, 1919--d. Aug. 25, 1997).
Pierre Gringore, Gringore also spelled Gringoire, (born c. 1475, Normandy, Fr.--died c. 1538), French actor-manager and playwright, best known as a writer of soties (satirical farces) for Les Enfants Sans Souci, a famous medieval guild of comic actors of which Gringore was for a time the second dignitary, Mere Sotte (Mother Fool). As Mere Sotte he enjoyed the favour of Louis XII and took advantage of his fool's costume to launch scathing attacks against the King's enemy Pope Julius II. After the accession of Francis I, Gringore moved to Lorraine in 1518...
Arnoul Greban, (born 1420, probably Le Mans, Anjou, Fr.--died 1471, probably Le Mans), French author of an important 15th-century religious drama known as Mystere de la Passion (1453/54), dramatizing the events of Jesus' life. In 1507 a performance of his Passion play, revised by Jean Michel to 65,000 lines, occupied six days. Greban also collaborated with his brother Simon on a long mystery play about the Acts of the Apostles. In 1455 he is known to have been organist and choirmaster of Notre-Dame in Paris; he later held a canonry at Le Mans...
Julien Gracq, (Louis Poirier), French writer (born July 27, 1910, Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, France--died Dec. 22, 2007, Angers, France), wrote a score of works, including novels, essays, journals, and the literary study Andre Breton: quelques aspects de l'ecrivain. Gracq's fiction displayed the strong surrealist influences of Stendhal and especially Breton, who reportedly admired Au chateau d'Argol (1938), Gracq's first novel. His best-known novel, Le Rivage des Syrtes (1951), was awarded the Prix Goncourt, France's highest literary honour, but Gracq, who maintained an intensely..
Frederic Charles Antoine Dard, French novelist (born June 29, 1921, Bourgoin-Jallieu, France--died June 6, 2000, Bonnefontaine, Switz.), wrote mainly "hard-boiled" detective novels, notable for their ribald humour and their inventive, often racy, vocabulary. Although Dard wrote under several pseudonyms, more than half of his output, which totaled some 300 books, featured Paris police superintendent San-Antonio and his sidekick, Inspector Berurier. The series included the illustrated L'histoire de France vue par San-Antonio (1965); Dictionnaire San-Antonio (1993), an extensive..
Pierre Louys, pseudonym of Pierre Louis, (born Dec. 10, 1870, Ghent, Belgium--died June 4, 1925, Paris, France), French novelist and poet whose merit and limitation were to express pagan sensuality with stylistic perfection.Louys frequented Parnassian and Symbolist circles and was a friend of the composer Claude Debussy. He founded short-lived literary reviews, notably La Conque (1891). His Chansons de Bilitis (1894), prose poems about Sapphic love, purporting to be translations from the Greek, deceived even experts. Aphrodite (1896), a novel depicting courtesan life in ancient Alexandria,..
Maurice Leblanc, in full Maurice-Marie-Emile Leblanc, (born Dec. 11, 1864, Rouen, France--died Nov. 6, 1941, Paris), French author and journalist, known as the creator of Arsene Lupin, French gentleman-thief turned detective, who is featured in more than 60 of Leblanc's crime novels and short stories.Leblanc abandoned his law studies to become a pulp crime writer. Commissioned in 1905 to write a crime story for the French periodical Je sais tout, he created "L'Arrestation d'Arsene Lupin" ("The Arrest of Arsene Lupin") and achieved immediate and long-lasting popular success. His first..
Henri Troyat, (Lev Aslanovich Tarasov), Russian-born French writer (born Nov. 1, 1911, Moscow, Russia--died March 4, 2007, Paris, France), was admired by legions of enthralled readers for his clear, lucid style and rich historical detail in his more than 100 literary works, including novels, short-story collections, biographies, and plays. His first novel, Faux jour (1934), won the Prix du Roman Populiste, and his fifth, L'Araigne (1938; The Web, 1984), was awarded the Prix Goncourt. Troyat's family settled in Paris after having fled from Russia during the Revolution, and although he..
Edouard Rod, (born March 29, 1857, Nyon, Switz.--died Jan. 29, 1910, Grasse, France), French-Swiss writer of psychological novels and a pioneer of comparative criticism.After his first novels, written in the style of Emile Zola, the best of which was Palmyre Veulard (1881), Rod soon evolved his own highly sensitive, introverted psychological art in such novels as La Course a la mort (1885), Le Sens de la vie (1889), Nouvelles Romandes (1890), La Vie privee de Michel Teissier (1893; The Private Life of an Eminent Politician), and Le Silence (1894). Although often a prey to pessimism and despondency,..
Jules Supervielle, (born Jan. 16, 1884, Montevideo, Uruguay--died May 17, 1960, Paris, France), poet, dramatist, and short-story writer of Basque descent who wrote in the French language but in the Spanish tradition.Supervielle's themes are the love of a lonely but fraternal man for the pampas and for the open spaces of his South American childhood and his nostalgia for a cosmic brotherhood of men. His poems (Gravitations, 1925; Les Amis inconnus, 1934 ["The Unknown Friends"]; La Fable du monde, 1938 ["Fable of the World"]) are sensitive, sometimes humorous, sometimes precious. In his novels..
Emile Gaboriau, (born November 9, 1832/33/35, Saujon, France--died c. October 1, 1873, Paris), French novelist who is best known as the father of the roman policier (detective novel). He has been described as the Edgar Allan Poe of France.Gaboriau's prolific imagination and acute observation generated 21 novels (originally published in serial form) in 13 years. He made his reputation with the publication in 1866 of L'Affaire Lerouge (The Widow Lerouge) after having published several other books and miscellaneous writings. His later books, many of them classics of their kind, include Le..
Champfleury, pseudonym of Jules-francois-felix Husson, (born Sept. 17, 1821, Laon, Fr.--died Dec. 6, 1889, Sevres), French novelist and journalist, theoretician of the Realist movement, which he analyzed in Le Realisme (1857). Although his reputation has declined, he was an influential figure whose writings helped to popularize the work of the painter Gustave Courbet, then controversial for his frank portrayal of scenes from common life.After an interrupted education, Champfleury went to Paris and lived a bohemian existence in a literary group that included the poet Charles Baudelaire...
Jean-Francois Sarasin, Sarasin also spelled Sarrazin, or Sarrasin, (born 1614, Caen, France--died Dec. 5, 1654, Pezenas), French author of elegant verse, best known for the mock epic Dulot vaincu ("Dulot Defeated"), for the epic fragments Rollon conquerant ("Roland in Conquest") and La Guerre espagnole ("The Spanish War"), and for La Pompe funebre de Voiture ("Voiture's Funeral Pomp").Sarasin undertook classical studies, and in 1648 he entered the household of Armand I de Bourbon, Prince de Conti, in whose service he remained until his death. His position permitted him to enter Paris..
Jacques Borel, (born Dec. 17, 1925, Paris, Fr.--died Sept. 25, 2002, Villejuif), French writer, translator, and critic.The son of a civil servant, Borel was educated at the Sorbonne, graduating in 1949, and for several years was an English teacher at various lycees in France (1952-67) and a visiting professor at various colleges and universities in the United States (1966-83). His principal novel, L'Adoration (1965; "The Adoration"; Eng. trans. The Bond), which won the Prix Goncourt, was a semiautobiographical account of a son's relationship to a widowed mother and had Proustian or Joycean..
Henri Murger, in full Louis-Henri Murger, (born March 27, 1822, Paris, France--died Jan. 28, 1861, Paris), French novelist who was among the first to depict bohemian life.The son of a concierge and a tailor, Murger left school at 13. Later he became secretary to Count Aleksey Tolstoy and was able to improve his education. He began writing poems and became part of the bohemian life in Paris, but he was often destitute and his health deteriorated. Both the gaiety and tragedy of his circumstances are reflected in his best-known work, Scenes de la vie de boheme ("Scenes of Bohemian Life"), in which he..
Sophie Gay, in full Marie-Francoise-Sophie Nichault de Lavalette Gay, (born July 1, 1776, Paris, Fr.--died March 5, 1852, Paris), French writer and grande dame who wrote romantic novels and plays about upper-class French society during the early 19th century.Gay was the daughter of a bursar to the comte de Provence (later King Louis XVIII). Her first published writings, in 1802, yielded a novel, Laure d'Estell, but she did little other writing for 11 years, during which she led a somewhat notorious life. Among her numerous later novels were Leonie de Montbreuse (1813), Malheurs d'un amant..
Jacques Grevin, (born 1538, Clermont-en-Beauvais, Fr.--died Nov. 5, 1570, Turin, Savoy), French poet and dramatist who is credited with writing the first original French plays to observe the form of classical tragedies and comedies.Before becoming a doctor of medicine at the University of Paris, Grevin wrote several successful comedies, including La Tresoriere (performed 1559; "The Paymistress"). His comedies, licentious in tone, imitated the regular form of the Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence but took contemporary subjects and a Parisian setting. They were published in Grevin's..
Leonard-Sylvain-Julien Sandeau, also called Jules Sandeau, (born Feb. 19, 1811, Aubusson, Fr.--died April 24, 1883, Paris), prolific French novelist, best remembered for his collaborations with more famous writers.As a young man, Sandeau became the lover of Amandine-Aurore-Lucie Dudevant (later known as George Sand) and worked with her on the novel Rose et Blanche (1831; "Red and White"), which was published under the pseudonym Jules Sand. At the end of 1832, she broke off the affair and adopted the pen name George Sand. Sandeau's most successful novel was Mademoiselle de la Seigliere..
Leon Bloy, (born July 11, 1846, Perigueux, France--died Nov. 2, 1917, Bourg-la-Reine), French novelist, critic, polemicist, a fervent Roman Catholic convert who preached spiritual revival through suffering and poverty.As spiritual mentor to a group of friends that included the writer Joris-Karl Huysmans, philosopher Jacques Maritain, and painter Georges Rouault, Bloy influenced their reconciliation with the Roman Catholic church. Bloy's works are extremely varied in form (novels, pamphlets, a Journal, exegesis), but they reveal a powerful unity of thought: through pain and destitution..
Theophile de Viau, Viau also spelled Viaud, (born 1590, Clairac, near Agen, France--died Sept. 25, 1626, Paris), French poet and dramatist of the pre-Neoclassical period.Born into a Huguenot family of the minor nobility, Viau went to Paris, where he soon won a reputation as the leader of the freethinkers (libertins). He was briefly house dramatist to the Hotel de Bourgogne in Paris, writing one important tragedy, Pyrame et Thisbe (1623). This period of prosperity ended when he was charged with irreligious activities. He fled, was sentenced in absentia to death, was rearrested, and was finally..
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Francis Ponge, in full Francis Jean Gaston Alfred Ponge, (born March 27, 1899, Montpellier, France--died Aug. 6, 1988, Le Barsur-Loup), French poet who crafted intricate prose poems about everyday objects. He sought to create a "visual equivalence" between language and subject matter by emphasizing word associations and by manipulating the sound, rhythm, and typography of the words to mimic the essential characteristics of the object described.Ponge studied philosophy and law in Paris before serving in the army during World War I. In the 1920s he was briefly involved with the Surrealist..
Edme Boursault, (born October 1638, Mussy-l'Eveque [now Mussy-sur-Seine], Fr.--died Sept. 15, 1701, Paris), French man of letters, active in the literary world of mid-17th-century Paris.Boursault first went to Paris at the age of 13 and was brought up by the poet Jacques Vallee, Sieur Des Barreaux. He composed light verse that appeared in the collection Delices de la poesie galante (1663; "Delights of Elegant Poetry") and plays, many of which became highly successful. The first was Le Portrait du peintre; ou, la contre-critique de l'ecole des femmes (1663; "The Portrait of the Painter; or,..
Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crebillon, byname Crebillon fils (French: "Crebillon son"), (born February 14, 1707, Paris, France--died April 12, 1777, Paris), French novelist whose works provide a lighthearted, licentious, and satirical view of 18th-century high society in France.The son of an outstanding French poet-dramatist, Prosper Jolyot de Crebillon, he displayed a completely different temperament from that of his father (who heartily disapproved of his son's life and works). Crebillon fils spent all his life in Paris except for two periods of exile in the provinces as a result of satirical..
Florent Chrestien, (born Jan. 26, 1541, Orleans, Fr.--died Oct. 3, 1596, Vendome), French satirist and Latin poet, especially known for his translations of Greek and Latin texts.The son of Guillaume Chrestien, an eminent physician and writer on physiology, he became a pupil of Henri Estienne, the Hellenist, at an early age. Later, he was appointed tutor to Henry of Navarre, afterward Henry IV of France, who made him his librarian. Brought up as a Calvinist, he became a convert to Roman Catholicism.Chrestien was the author of many good translations from the Greek into Latin verse--among others,..
Marc-Antoine de Muret, also called Marcus Antonius Muretus, (born April 12, 1526, Muret, near Limoges, France--died June 4, 1585, Rome [Italy]), French humanist and classical scholar, celebrated for the elegance of his Latin prose style.From age 18 Muret taught classics at various schools; Michel de Montaigne was among his pupils. During the 1540s his play Julius Caesar, written in Latin, was performed; it is the first tragedy on a secular theme known to have been written in France. In the early 1550s he lectured on philosophy and civil law in Paris. He became intimate with the poets of La Pleiade,..
Francis Jammes, (born Dec. 2, 1868, Tournay, Fr.--died Nov. 1, 1938, Hasparren, near Bayonne), French poet and novelist whose simple rustic themes were a contrast to the decadent element in French literature of the turn of the century.A timid, provincial clerk, Jammes was befriended by the Symbolist poet Stephane Mallarme and the novelist Andre Gide. His poetry reacted against Symbolism and followed a new poetic trend known as Naturism. It urged a return to nature, to the small daily happenings of life, to a childlike simplicity. He first attracted attention with De l'Angelus de l'aube a l'Angelus..
Louis-Nicolas Menard, (born Oct. 19, 1822, Paris, Fr.--died Feb. 9, 1901, Paris), French writer whose vision of ancient Greek religion and philosophy influenced the Parnassian poets.Educated at the College Louis-le-Grand and the Ecole Normale, Menard was a gifted chemist (an early investigator of collodion) as well as a painter and historian. He was a socialist republican and was condemned to prison in 1849 for his Prologue d'une revolution, which contained radical political opinions and his reminiscences of the June 1848 insurrections in Paris, in which he played an active part. He escaped..
Jean Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin, (born 1595, Paris, France--died Oct. 28, 1676, Paris), French prose writer, poet, dramatist, Christian polemicist, and political figure. One of the original members and the first chancellor of the French Academy, Desmarets opened the long literary battle, since called the querelle des anciens et des modernes (see ancients and moderns), by arguing that the true models for modern French literature were Romance legends and the Bible rather than classical Greek and Roman writers.Desmarets had written a number of literary works before the publication of his..
Etienne Jodelle, (born 1532, Paris, France--died July 1573, Paris), French dramatist and poet, one of the seven members of the literary circle known as La Pleiade, who applied the aesthetic principles of the group to drama.Jodelle aimed at creating a classical drama that in every respect would be different from the moralities and mysteries then occupying the French stage; he succeeded in producing the first modern French tragedy and comedy. These plays have the reputation of being unactable and unreadable, but they set a new example that prepared the ground for the great Neoclassical tragedians..
Charles Vildrac, pseudonym of Charles Messager, (born November 22, 1882, Paris, France--died June 25, 1971, Saint-Tropez), French poet, playwright, and essayist whose idealistic commitment to humanitarianism characterized his artistic and personal life.Vildrac, along with the writer Georges Duhamel (later his brother-in-law) and others, founded the Abbaye de Creteil, a community of young artists and writers who, from 1906 to 1907, lived together in the Paris suburb of Creteil. During World War II he was active in the French Resistance.Some of his verse--including Poemes (1905) and..
Vercors, pseudonym of Jean Marcel Bruller, (born Feb. 26, 1902, Paris, France--died June 10, 1991, Paris), French novelist and artist-engraver, who wrote Le Silence de la mer (1941; The Silence of the Sea), a patriotic tale of self-deception and of the triumph of passive resistance over evil. The novella was published clandestinely in Nazi-occupied Paris and served to rally a spirit of French defiance.Bruller was trained at the Ecole Alsacienne and worked as a graphic artist and engraver until he was drafted into the French army after the outbreak of World War II. While recovering from a broken..
Raymond Radiguet, (born June 18, 1903, Saint-Maur, Fr.--died Dec. 12, 1923, Paris), precocious French novelist and poet who wrote at 17 a masterpiece of astonishing insight and stylistic excellence, Le Diable au corps (1923; The Devil in the Flesh), which remains a unique expression of the poetry and perversity of an adolescent boy's love.At 16 Radiguet took Paris by storm and joined the frenzied life of the leading post-World War I figures in the Dadaist and Cubist circles, including Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Erik Satie, and, especially, Jean Cocteau, whose protege he became.His..
Nepomucene Lemercier, in full Louise-Jean Nepomucene Lemercier, (born April 21, 1771, Paris, France--died June 7, 1840, Paris), poet and dramatist, a late proponent of classical tragedy over Romanticism, and the originator of French historical comedy.An accident caused Lemercier lifelong partial paralysis. He made a precocious literary debut, attempting a comedy at age 9 and having his first tragedy, Meleagre, produced at the Comedie-Francaise before he was 16. His Tartuffe revolutionnaire (1795) created a succes de scandale and was quickly suppressed because of its bold political..
Michel Tournier, (born December 19, 1924, Paris, France--died January 18, 2016, Choisel), French novelist whose manipulation of mythology and old stories has often been called subversive insofar as it challenges the conventional assumptions of middle-class society.Tournier studied philosophy at the University of Tubingen in Germany from 1946 to 1950. His first novel, Vendredi; ou, les limbes du Pacifique (1967; Friday; or, the Other Island), is a revisionist Robinson Crusoe, with Crusoe as a colonialist who fails to coerce Friday into accepting his version of the world. The obsessive..
Louis-Sebastien Mercier, (born June 6, 1740, Paris, France--died April 25, 1814, Paris), one of the first French writers of drame bourgeois (middle-class drama). In Du theatre (1773; "About the Theatre"), he emphasized the didactic function of the theatre, and in his plays he presented a thesis, subordinating dramatic considerations to the didactic end. He criticized traditional French tragedy as artificial and sterile, though he was not himself a technical innovator.Mercier wrote about 60 plays, including a social comedy, La Brouette du vinaigrier (1775; "The Barrel-load of the Vinegar..
Claude Mauriac, (born April 25, 1914, Paris, France--died March 22, 1996, Paris), French novelist, journalist, and critic, a practitioner of the avant-garde school of nouveau roman ("new novel") writers, who, in the 1950s and '60s, spurned the traditional novel.A son of the novelist Francois Mauriac, he was able to make the acquaintance of many notable French writers at his father's house and later during his career as a journalist. He worked as Charles de Gaulle's private secretary from 1944 to 1949 and was a columnist and film critic for the newspapers Le Figaro and Le Figaro Litteraire from..
Jean Giono, (born March 30, 1895, Manosque, Fr.--died Oct. 8, 1970, Manosque), French novelist, a celebrant of nature whose works are set in Provence and whose rich and diverse imagery has been widely admired.A love of nature came to Giono from his mountain town and from the shepherd family with whom, as a boy, he spent his summers. He was largely self-taught. As an infantryman in World War I, he was one of his company's 11 survivors at Verdun. He later described the horrors of war in Le grand troupeau (1931; To the Slaughterhouse).In 1922 he published poems in a Marseille review. His popularity grew..
Bonaventure Des Periers, (born c. 1500, Arnay-le-duc, France?--died c. 1544, Lyon), French storyteller and humanist who attained notoriety as a freethinker.In 1533 or 1534 Des Periers visited Lyon, then the most enlightened town of France and a refuge for many liberal scholars. He assisted Pierre-Robert Olivetan and Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples in the preparation of the vernacular version of the Old Testament and Etienne Dolet in the Commentarii linguae Latinae. Margaret of Angouleme, queen of Navarre, made him her valet de chambre in 1536. He acted as her secretary and transcribed her Heptameron;..
Jean de La Taille, (born c. 1540, Bondaroy, Fr.--died c. 1607, Bondaroy), poet and dramatist who, through his plays and his influential treatise on the art of tragedy, helped to effect the transition from native French drama to classical tragedy.While studying in Paris La Taille came under the influence, shown in his minor poems, of Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay. His chief poems, prosaic but forceful, are a satire, Le Courtisan retire ("The Retired Courtier"), and Le Prince necessaire, a portrait of an ideal monarch.A collection of his works appeared in 1572, including his tragedy..
Rene Bazin, in full Rene-francois-nicolas-marie Bazin, (born Dec. 26, 1853, Angers, France--died July 20, 1932, Paris), French novelist of provincial life, strongly traditionalist in outlook. His works express in simple but elegant style his love of nature, of simple virtues, and of work, especially on the land.Educated in Paris and Angers, Bazin became a professor of law at the Catholic University at Angers. Throughout his life he remained close to the people and scenes of his native countryside. His early works presented an extremely idealistic view of peasant life, but after travels..
Claude Simon, in full Claude Eugene Henri Simon, (born October 10, 1913, Tananarive [now Antananarivo], Madagascar--died July 6, 2005, Paris, France), writer whose works are among the most authentic representatives of the French nouveau roman ("new novel") that emerged in the 1950s. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1985.The son of a cavalry officer who was killed in World War I, Simon was raised by his mother in Perpignan, France. After studies at Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge, he traveled widely and then fought in World War II. He was captured by the Germans in May 1940, escaped,..
Pierre-Jean Jouve, (born Oct. 11, 1887, Arras, Fr.--died Jan. 8, 1976, Paris), French poet, novelist, and critic.Early in his career, Jouve was influenced by the Abbaye group and for a time published a journal, Bandeaux d'or. His earliest verses, Les Muses romaines et florentines (1910; "Roman and Florentine Muses"), Presences (1912; "Presences"), and Parler (1913; "Speaking"), were inspired by Symbolism.Prevented by ill health from serving in World War I, Jouve spent the war years in Switzerland, serving as a volunteer hospital orderly and writing pacifist verses. Works of this period..
Pierre Boulle, in full Pierre-Francois-Marie-Louis Boulle, (born February 20, 1912, Avignon, France--died January 30, 1994, Paris), French novelist who successfully combined adventure and psychology in works dealing largely with his experiences in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaya.Boulle studied to become an electrical engineer but instead went to Asia, where he spent eight years as a planter and soldier. He is best known for his novel Le Pont de la riviere Kwai (1952; U.S. title, The Bridge over the River Kwai; U.K. title, The Bridge on the River Kwai), dealing with a company of British..
Michel Butor, in full Michel-Marie-Francois Butor, (born September 14, 1926, Mons-en-Baroeul, France--died August 24, 2016, Contamine-sur-Arve), French novelist and essayist who was awarded the Grand Prix by the Academie Francaise (2013) for his work as one of the leading exponents of the nouveau roman ("new novel"), the avant-garde literary movement that emerged in France in the 1950s.Butor studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and from 1951 to 1953 was a lecturer at the University of Manchester. He subsequently taught in Thessaloniki, Greece (1954-55); Geneva, Switzerland (1956-57..
Helene Cixous, (born June 5, 1937, Oran, Algeria), French feminist critic and theorist, novelist, and playwright.Cixous's first language was German. She was reared in Algeria, which was then a French colony, a circumstance that, by her own account, gave her the undying desire to fight the violations of the human spirit wrought by power. In France during the 1960s, she taught at the University of Bordeaux and at the Sorbonne. In 1968 she helped establish the innovative University of Paris VIII-Vincennes and assumed the professorship of English literature there. In 1969, the year her first novel,..
Roger Martin du Gard, (born March 23, 1881, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France--died Aug. 22, 1958, Belleme), French author and winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature. Trained as a paleographer and archivist, Martin du Gard brought to his works a spirit of objectivity and a scrupulous regard for details. For his concern with documentation and with the relationship of social reality to individual development, he has been linked with the realist and naturalist traditions of the 19th century.Martin du Gard first attracted attention with Jean Barois (1913), which traced the development of an..
Jean Cayrol, in full Jean-Raphael-Marie-Noel Cayrol, (born June 6, 1911, Bordeaux, France--died February 10, 2005, Bordeaux), French poet, novelist, and essayist, who stood at the frontiers of the New Novel (nouveau roman), the avant-garde French novel that emerged in the 1950s.In World War II Cayrol was deported to a concentration camp after participating in the French Resistance, and that experience is at the heart of his artistic creation. The suffering he underwent at Mauthausen inspired his best-known volume of poems, Poemes de la nuit et du brouillard (1946; "Poems of the Night and..
Henry de Montherlant, in full Henry-Marie-Joseph-Millon de Montherlant, (born April 20, 1895, Paris, France--died Sept. 21, 1972, Paris), French novelist and dramatist whose stylistically concise works reflect his own egocentric and autocratic personality.Montherlant was born into a noble Roman Catholic family of Catalan origin. His early works were inspired by his personal experiences: La Releve du matin (1920) evokes the intense inner life of his Catholic schooldays; and Le Songe (1922; The Dream), a semiautobiographical war novel, contrasts masculine courage and self-sacrifice..
Alain Robbe-Grillet, (born Aug. 18, 1922, Brest, France--died Feb. 18, 2008, Caen), representative writer and leading theoretician of the nouveau roman ("new novel"), the French "anti-novel" that emerged in the 1950s. He was also a screenwriter and film director.Robbe-Grillet was trained as a statistician and agronomist. He claimed to write novels for his time, especially attentive "to the ties that exist between objects, gestures, and situations, avoiding all psychological and ideological 'commentary' on the actions of the characters" (Pour un nouveau roman, 1963; Toward a New Novel;..
Yves Bonnefoy, (born June 24, 1923, Tours, France--died July 1, 2016, Paris), perhaps the most important French poet of the latter half of the 20th century. Bonnefoy was also a respected critic, scholar, and translator.Bonnefoy's father was a railroad employee, his mother a teacher. After studying mathematics at the University of Poitiers, the young poet moved to Paris, where he came under the influence of the Surrealists. His first poetry collection, Du mouvement et de l'immobilite de Douve (1953; On the Motion and Immobility of Douve), explored the relation of poetry to life. In Bonnefoy's..
Georges Perec, (born March 7, 1936, Paris, France--died March 3, 1982, Ivry), French writer, often called the greatest innovator of form of his generation.Perec was orphaned at an early age: his father was killed in action in World War II, and his mother died in a concentration camp. He was reared by an aunt and uncle and eventually attended the Sorbonne for several years. His best-selling novel Les Choses: une histoire des annees soixante (1965; Things: A Story of the Sixties) concerns a young Parisian couple whose personalities are consumed by their material goods. In 1967 he joined the Ouvroir..
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, (born April 13, 1940, Nice, France), French author known for his intricate, seductive fiction and distinctive works of nonfiction that mediated between the past and the present, juxtaposing the modern world with a primordial landscape of ambiguity and mystery. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008.Le Clezio was descended from a Breton family that had immigrated to the formerly French and subsequently British colony of Mauritius. Bilingual in French and English, he spent part of his childhood in Nigeria before completing his secondary education..