The following notes are designed as an indication of some books which may be useful to students.
Of the many Histories of French Literature the fullest and most trustworthy is that at present in course of publication under the editorship of M. Petit de Julleville, Histoire de la Langue et de la Littérature française (A. Colin et Cie.). M. Lanson's Histoire de la Littérature française should be in the hands of every student, and this may be supplemented by M. Lintilhac's Littérature française (2 vols.).
The works of Mr. Saintsbury, Géruzez, Demogeot, are widely known, and have proved useful during many years. Much may be learnt and learnt pleasantly from Paul Albert's volumes on the literature of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Two volumes out of five of M. Charles Gidel's Histoire de la Littérature française (Lemerre) are occupied with literature from 1815 to 1886. M. Hermann Pergamini's Histoire générale de la Littérature française (Alcan) sometimes gives fresh and interesting views. For a short school history by an accomplished scholar, none is better than M. Petit de Julleville's Histoire de la Littérature française, which, in 555 pages, packs a great deal of information. The Histoire élémentaire de la Littérature française, by M. Jean Fleury, has been popular; it tells much of the contents of great books, and makes no assumption that the reader is already acquainted with them. Dr. Warren's A Primer of French Literature (Heath, Boston, U.S.A.) is well proportioned and well arranged, but it has room for little more than names, dates, and the briefest characterisations. Dr. Wells's Modern French Literature (Roberts, Boston, U.S.A.) sketches French literature to Chateaubriand, and treats with considerable fulness the literature from Chateaubriand and Mme. de Staël to the present time. For the present century M. G. Pellissier's Le Mouvement littéraire au XIXe Siècle is valuable.
Of elder histories that by Nisard is by far the most distinguished, the work of a scholar and a thinker. (See the final section of the present volume.)
The student will find Merlet's Études littéraires sur les Classiques français (2 vols.), revised and enlarged by M. Lintilhac, highly instructive; the second volume is wholly occupied with Corneille, Racine, and Molière.
For the history of the French theatre the best introduction is M. Petit de Julleville's Le Théâtre en France; it may be supplemented by M. Brunetière's Les Époques du Théâtre français. Learning wide and exact, and original thought, characterise all the work of M. Brunetière; each of his many volumes should be searched by the student for what he may need. The studies of M. Faguet on the writers of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries are the work of a critic who is penetrating in his psychological study of authors, and who, just or unjust, is always suggestive. For numberless little monographs the student may turn to Sainte-Beuve. Monographs on a larger scale will be found in the admirable series of Grands Écrivains français (Hachette); the Classiques populaires (Lecène, Oudin et Cie.) are in some instances no less scholarly. The writings of Scherer, of M. Jules Lemaître, and of M. Anatole France are especially valuable on nineteenth-century literature. The best study of French historical literature is Professor Flint's The Philosophy of History (1893).
Provided with such books as these the student will hardly need the general histories of French literature by German writers. I may name Prof. Bornhak's Geschichte der Französischen Literatur, and the more popular history by Engel (4th ed., 1897). Lotheissen's Geschichte der Französischen Literatur im XVII. Jahrhundert seems to me the best book on the period. The monographs in German are numberless.
The editions of authors in the Grands Écrivains de la France are of the highest authority. The best anthology of French poetry is Crépet's Les Poètes français (4 vols.). Small anthologies of French poetry since the fifteenth century, and of French lyrical poets of the nineteenth century, are published by Lemerre.
The list which follows is taken partly from books which I have used in writing this volume, partly from the Bibliography in M. Lintilhac's Histoire de la Littérature française. To name English writers and books seems unnecessary.