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Contemporary French Literature


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I am in need of advice please.

The last time I read anything literary in French was back in the late 80', since then it has been text book stuff whilst in formal education, plus newspapers, weekly journals etc, and more recently our regional paper to get myself back into the habit. I also read the school books the children bring home.

I would like very much to start reading 'proper' French novels again, but don't know where to start. Can anyone offer advice please? I am an avid reader but don't want to launch into anything too 'heavy'.

Many thanks in advance
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Our Maison de Presse always has a selection of recent books on sale. Most seem to be on current affairs, some are translations from english, but there are a few novels. The only book I've ever bought there was a locally written and published book about the Resistance in the Gers. I found it very interesting because the events described took place in the area where we live. Pat.
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i know exactly what you mean, being a classics reader of eng lit before I joined a lit group and expanded my reading list I only read french lit, balzac maupassant, zola so when I wanted to read french contempory lit I didnt know what french authors I would like. So i started off reading some translations of Joanna Trollope I looked on it more of a reading exercise to expand vocab and look at sentence construction but nevertheless enjoyed the books think ive read them all in french now,(no just 4) also read a couple of Du Mauriers in french, but still cant find their equivalents in french. When in france I but Prima to read ther book reviews that can help

My daughter tried desperately to get me a copy of Clochermerle for xmas, in german yes, but not french. I have also noticed that french lit is quite regional based a bit like Hardy - Wessex the Brontes Yorkshire and I did come across some books by Yves Viollier (I think thats the spelling, but must have left them at the hse as just checked my bookcases here) they are turn of the century agricultural stories of a family 'emigrating' from brittany to the vendee, you'd think they were going to australia.

When we make the move later this year I thnk i'll have to start a lending library/book club

Bon Livre!

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I may be stretching the "contemporary" with some of the following - most are more Kingsley as opposed to Martin Amis's generation - and I'm sure several are dead. But if we're talking about 20th century French writers, I can certainly highly recommend the following.

Marguerite Duras: start with l'Amant (terribly well known). I'm also very fond of Moderato Cantabile and le Vice Consul. That said, I have French friends who cannot bear her very distinctive style of writing.

Nathalie Sarraute: I suppose Tropismes is the best place to start. I had to read this as part of a modern French literature course.

JMG le Clezio: With such proud initials he would surely qualify him to play test cricket! And I think I'm right in saying his father was English but, if so, how did he acquire that surname? Pucette, do you know? One of my absolute favourites and if told my entire library was going to be taken away and I could only keep one short story it would have to be his Villa Aurore (sorry Somerset Maugham).

Marguerite Yourcenar (I'm pretty certain she's dead). Can't remember particular titles as I borrow her from library. Nouvelles Orientales? I think that was the first thing I read.

Annie Ernaux, (Jill glad you like her too) now she is more modern. La Place, La Femme Gelee and a more recent one title of which escapes me. Starts off in Normandy immediately after the War, very interesting descriptions of life there during that period.

Alice Ferney: Very contemporary, still quite young, only written two novels, I think, can highly recommend la Conversation Amoureuse.

Pascal Laine: la Dentelliere, of course. Keep meaning to read B comme Barrabas (had a French teacher once who raved about that book) but haven't yet.

Francoise Sagan: Have to agree with Pucette here, I used to so enjoy her work when I was younger but reading one just before Christmas I gave up half way through. Couldn't help thinking, I've been down this road with this writer so many times before and can't be bothered going there again.

When I first read Pucette's comment about reading books in translation I agreed. Then I got thinking but why not? No French teacher is ever going to encourage this - in my experience most abhor the idea - but if you feel more comfortable in familiar territory with an English writer you enjoy, I can't see what's wrong with that. Unless your French is translator standard and you are irritated by mistakes or inconsistencies in the translation, I would have thought it was better to read anything in French rather than nothing at all. I agree with Jill, surely even JK Rowling in French can be a useful learning tool?

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