French Kiss

Posted on March 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

In celebration of the International Francophonie Day on March 20th, let’s have a look at authors from France with the following 10 gems from our catalog.

What better person to represent the nation than one who shares its name. Anatole France won the 1921 Nobelprize for literature for “a nobility in style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament”. Read his novel The Revolt of the Angels and judge for yourself.

Judging people and their quirks may have been a reason for Michel de Montaigne to write his Essays. Born into a wealthy family and brought up in Latin, he was a famous philosopher and statesman of the French Renaissance.

Marguerite de Navarre lived around the same time, and her patronage of humanists and reformers earned her the title “first modern woman”. She has written The Heptameron, a string of tales telling of love, lust, and infidelity.

Paquita Valdez, La fille aux yeux d’or, is seduced by Henri de Marcay who wants to kill her when he finds out she has another lover. But he is not the only one in this book which is part of La Comédie Humaine, considered the masterpiece of Honoré de Balzac. We also have an English translation of this book.

The masterpiece of Pierre Corneille, one of the three great dramatists of 17th century France is Le Cid. The tragicomedy in five acts is based on a medieval legend and in turn inspired operas by Handel and Massenet.

A tragic topic treated tongue-in-cheek is L’ Art de payer ses dettes et de satisfaire ses créanciers sans débourser un sou. French historian, writer, and feuilletonist Emile Marco de Saint-Hilaire has written this manual in 10 lessons.

Since his family was poor, lessons were something Jean-Henri Fabre never had; still the autodidact became a teacher when only 19, and later on France’s best known entymologist. Read his book on one of the few insects working for mankind, The Mason-Bees.

A genius of a different kind was Paul Verlaine. His first book of poems – Poèmes saturniens – was published when he was only 22, and at his early death with 51 he was hailed as one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siecle in French poetry.

At that time, Emile Gaboriau was equally famous. The journalist and novelist was a pioneer of modern detective fiction. His most famous character was Monsieur Lecoq, a young police officer, whose numerous cases kept people in suspense. An English version is available in Part 1 and Part 2.

Another literary pioneer was Madame de La Fayette, who wrote France’s first historical novel and one of the earliest novels in literature. Many of the characters involved in the intrigues at the court of Henri II are historical figures – except the heroine herself, La Princesse de Clèves.

Enjoy discovering new French authors in our catalog!

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