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French Literature

JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU the man is inseparable from Rousseau the writer; his works proceed directly from his character and his life. Born at Geneva in 1712, he died at Ermenonville in 1778. His childhood was followed by years of vagabondage. From 1732, the date of his third residence with Madame de Warens, until 1741, though his vagabondage did not wholly cease, he was collecting his powers and educating his mind with studies ardently pursued.

Lyrical self-confession reached its limit in the poetry of Musset. Detachment from self and complete surrender to the object is the law of Gautier's most characteristic work; he is an eye that sees, a hand that moulds and colours—that is all.

E. GERUZEZ. Hist. de la Litt. fr. pendant la Révolution. 1881.

E. ROUSSE. Mirabeau. 1891. (Grands Écrivains fr.)

DE LESCURE. Rivarol et la Société fr. pendant la Révolution et l'Émigration. 1883.

DE LESCURE. Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. (Classiques populaires.)

DE LESCURE. Chateaubriand. 1892. (Grands Écrivains fr.)

NARRATIVE RELIGIOUS POETRY

 

RENAISSANCE AND REFORMATION

The fermentation of ideas was now quickened by the new life of passion—passion social and democratic as the days of Revolution approached; passion also personal and private, which, welcomed as a sacred fire, too often made the inmost being of the individual a scene of agitating and desolating conflict.

The weaker side of the romantic school is apparent in the theatre. It put forth a magnificent programme of dramatic reform, which it was unable to carry out. The preface to Victor Hugo's Cromwell (1827) is the earliest and the most important of its manifestoes. The poetry of the world's childhood, we are told, was lyrical; that of its youth was epic; the poetry of its maturity is dramatic. The drama aims at truth before all else; it seeks to represent complete manhood, beautiful and revolting, sublime and grotesque.

THE NATIONAL EPIC

 

FROM THE PLÉIADE TO MONTAIGNE

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