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Main page » Non-Fiction » Facts on File Companion to the French Novel

Facts on File Companion to the French Novel


This volume strives to cover those works most often found in high-school and undergraduate literature courses. Entries fall into one of four categories: biographical articles on novelists; plot synopses for selected novels; literary terms and genres (e.g., Feminism, Surrealism); and historical events (e.g., French Revolution) that influenced novelists writing in French. The first two categories account for the overwhelming majority of entries. Although well-known authors such as Balzac, Flaubert, and Proust are here, so, too, are contemporary novelists such as Raphael Confiant, Assia Djebar, and Antonine Maillet, hailing from Martinique, Algeria, and Canada, respectively. Their inclusion demonstrates the effort taken to cover novelists from the whole of the Francophone world, including women and those from postcolonial regions. The plot synopses give the basic plot, characters, and standard literary interpretations of the novel. Novels selected for a synopsis entry tend to favor masterpieces of French literature over more contemporary works as well as novels for which an English translation exists. It should also be noted these synopses tend to be far more descriptive of plot and characters than interpretive. The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French (1995) is certainly a more comprehensive reference work. Not limited to novels, it treats poets, playwrights, and a great deal more, including novelists Jean-Marie Adiaffi and François Nourissier, neither of whom is included in the work under review. However, any comparison of the two is basically unfair. The Facts On File Companion to the French Novel never set out to be an exhaustive, academic reference source. The accessibly written entries include not only those novels students are likely to encounter in literature courses but also a nice selection of quite a few for the more advanced or adventurous. Libraries serving high-school and undergraduate courses in French literature now have a reference work specifically targeted to those classes. McConnell, Christopher

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Tags: novelists, French, categories, Raphael, Flaubert