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French Literary figures and their works


Victor Hugo originally published 'Les Misèrables' in 1862. It was received with substantial criticism being called, immoral, overly sentimental and the fact that it sympathized with Revolutionaries made it none too popular. Victor Hugo also wrote 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) was the father of science fiction writing the classics: Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days.

Moliere (stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) was the French playwright and actor who was considered one of the greatest comedy literary masters of the 17th century when comedic theatre flourished under Louis XIV who let Moliere and his troupe perform at the Louvre and Palais Royal (there are many dedications to him around this area of Paris including a fountain on the corner of rues Richelieu and Moliere across from where he lived/died). His comedic plays were mostly farces/satires which challenged many social customs of the time. While his works attracted much praise by Parisians, they drew much criticism from the church, moralists and the upper classes (excluding royalty who Moliere was conscious not to offend). His most famous play called Tartuffe or the Imposter was especially disliked due to its attack on religious and upper class hypocrisy.

The famous French female writer Colette  (1873-1954) wrote Gigi and Chéri.

The literary genre of the fairy tale originated with Frenchman Charles Perrault in the latter half of the 18th century. His best known stories, derived from folk tales, include:

  • Little Red Riding Hood Le Petit Chaperon rouge
  • Puss in Boots Le Maître chat ou le Chat botté
  • Sleeping Beauty La Belle au bois dormant
  • Cinderella  Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre
  • Bluebeard La Barbe bleue.
'Madeline', first published in 1939 by Ludwig Bemelman, is the story of an orphan girl who marched in two straight lines with her fellow orphans and Miss Clavel which has been made into many television shows and movies.


France has won more Nobel Prizes for literature than any other country in the world.

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