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French Literature

To present VICTOR HUGO in a few pages is to carve a colossus on a cherry-stone. His work dominates half a century. In the years of exile he began a new and greater career. During the closing ten years his powers had waned, but still they were extraordinary. Even with death he did not retire; posthumous publications astonished and perhaps fatigued the world.

Victor-Marie Hugo was born at Besançon on February 26, 1802, son of a distinguished military officer—

F. LOTHEISSEN. Geschichte der Französischen Litteratur im XVII. Jahrhundert. 2 vols. 1897.

A. DUPUY. Histoire de la Litt. fr. au XVIIe Siècle. 1892.

LE R. PÈRE G. LONGHAYE. Histoire de la Litt. fr. au XVIIe Siècle. 1895.

J. DEMOGEOT. Tableau de la Litt. fr. au XVIIe Siècle avant Corneille et Descartes. 1859.

The literature of the Middle Ages is an expression of the spirit of feudalism and of the genius of the Church. From the union of feudalism and Christianity arose the chivalric ideals, the new courtesy, the homage to woman. Abstract ideas, ethical, theological, and those of amorous metaphysics, were rendered through allegory into art. Against these high conceptions, and the overstrained sentiment connected with them, the positive intellect and the mocking temper of France reacted; a literature of satire arose.

Bossuet's great antagonist in the controversy concerning Quietism might have found the approval of the philosophers for some of his political opinions. His religious writings would have spoken to them in an unknown tongue.

ROUSSEAU—BEAUMARCHAIS—BERNARDIN DE SAINT-PIERRE—ANDRÉ CHÉNIER

ALFRED DE MUSSET has been reproached with having isolated himself from the general interests and affairs of his time. He did not isolate himself from youth or love, and the young of two generations were his advocates. Born in 1810, son of the biographer of Rousseau, he was a Parisian, inheriting the sentiment and the scepticism of the eighteenth century. Impressionable, excitable, greedy of sensations, he felt around him the void left by the departed glories of the Empire, the void left by the passing away of religious faiths.

H. HETTNER. Literaturgeschichte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts: Zweiter Theil. 1872.

VILLEMAIN. Tableau de la Litt. au XVIIIe Siècle. 4 vols. 1841.

DE BARANTE. Tableau de la Litt. fr. au XVIIIe Siècle. 1856.

BERSOT. Études sur le XVIIIe Siècle. 1852.

VINET. Hist. de la Litt. fr. au XVIIIe Siècle. 1853.

NARRATIVE RELIGIOUS POETRY

 

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