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Philosophers and Critics

Novelists and Dramatists

  • Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922 - 2008)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    1922–2008, French novelist and filmmaker; considered the originator of the French nouveau roman.
  • Albert Camus (1913 - 1960): Topic Page
    Active in the French Resistance he became Coeditor (with Sartre) of Combat; breaking with Sartre after the war, Camus devoted himself to writing. Nobel Prize for Literature, 1957.
  • Anais Nin (1913 - 1977): Topic Page
    French novelist and diarist best known for the seven-volume Journals, which include frank accounts of her sex life.
  • Andre Gide (1869 - 1951): Topic Page
    French novelist. His work is largely autobiographical and concerned with the conflict between desire and conventional morality.
  • André Malraux (1901 - 1976): Topic Page
    French man of letters and political figure.
  • Antonin Artaud (1896 - 1948): Topic Page
    His extraordinary influence on subsequent theatre is based largely on his two short-lived attempts at directing and on his volume of essays, The Theatre and Its Double.
  • Colette (1873 - 1954)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    French novelist. Colette achieved popularity with numerous novels, characterized by sensitive observations—particularly of women—and an intimate, semiautobiographical style.
  • Françoise Sagan (1935 - 2004): Topic Page
    French novelist; at the age of 18 she wrote, in only two months, the best-selling Bonjour Tristesse.
  • Georges Perec (1936 - 1982)
    From France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History
    French writer and filmmaker; member of the French experimental literature group Oulipo.
  • Jean Genet (1910 - 1986): Topic Page
    French dramatist, novelist, and poet. His turbulent life and early years spent in prison are reflected in his drama, characterized by ritual, role-play, and illusion, in which his characters come to act out their bizarre and violent fantasies.
  • Louis Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961)
    from The Columbia Encyclopedia
    (lwē fĕrdēnN' sālēn'), 1894–1961, French author, whose real name was Louis Ferdinand Destouches. Céline wrote grim, scatological, and blackly funny novels. His first and best-known work, Journey to the End of Night (1932, tr. 1934) is based on his service at the front in World War I, his travels through Africa, and his service as a League of Nations doctor. Looking back on his Paris childhood, Death on the Installment Plan (1936, tr. 1938) introduced Céline's stylistic innovation—the regular use of ellipses and apostrophes to capture the rhythm of everyday speech. Expressing a misanthropic loathing for all classes of humanity, Céline was an especially virulent anti-Semite, publishing the first of several antisemitic pamphlets (Bagatelles for a Massacre) in 1937.
  • Marguerite Yourcenar (1903 - 1987): Topic Page
    In 1980 Marguerite Yourcenar became the first woman member of the French Academy. The winner of many awards, this scholarly writer was not only a historical novelist but also a poet, essayist, playwright, and translator.
  • Raymond Queneau (1903 - 1976): Topic Page
    French surrealist poet and humorous novelist.


  • Atheism: Topic Page
    Nonbelief in, or the positive denial of, the existence of a God or gods.
  • Dada: Topic Page
    Artistic and literary movement founded in 1915 in a spirit of rebellion and disillusionment during World War I and lasting until about 1922.
  • Existentialism: Topic Page
    Any of several philosophic systems, all centered on the individual and his relationship to the universe or to God.
  • Modernism: Topic Page
    Modernism is based on a concern with form and the exploration of technique as opposed to content and narrative. In literature, writers experimented with alternatives to orthodox sequential storytelling.
  • Freudianism (Sigmund Freud, 1856 - 1939: Topic Page)
    Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis and proved to be the most influential writer about the unconscious mind in the twentieth century.
  • May 1968
    From A Dictionary of Contemporary History - 1945 to the present
    Student disturbances in France in which workers became involved and which appeared to threaten the foundations of the Fifth Republic.
  • Postmodernism: Topic Page
    Term used to designate a multitude of trends—in the arts, philosophy, religion, technology, and many other areas—that come after and deviate from the many 20th-cent. movements that constituted modernism.
  • Surrealism: Topic Page
    Movement in art, literature, and film. Led by André Breton, who produced the Surrealist Manifesto (1924), the surrealists were inspired by the thoughts and visions of the subconscious mind.
  • The New Novel and Oulipo
    From The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia of Modern Criticism and Theory
    Experiments in Writing from Le Nouveau Roman to the Oulipo.
  • Structuralism
    This influential school of criticism grew out of the ideas of Ferdinand de Saussure as they appeared in his Course in General Linguistics (1915).



  • Guillaume Apollinaire (1880 - 1918)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    French poet; a leader in the restless period of technical innovation and experimentation in the arts during the early 20th cent.
  • Jean Cocteau (1889 - 1963)
    From France and the Americas
    One of the most versatile, prolific authors of the twentieth century, Jean Cocteau elaborated a personal conception of total art, which he defined in terms of the overarching notion of “poetry”.
  • Paul Eluard (1895 - 1952)
    From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide
    French poet. He expressed the suffering of poverty in his verse, and was a leader of the surrealists.
  • Paul Valéry (1871 - 1945): Topic Page

    French poet and critic. A follower of the symbolists, Valéry was one of the greatest French poets of the 20th cent.
  • Tristan Tzara (1896 - 1963)
    from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide
    French poet, born in Romania. In Zürich, Switzerland, in 1916, together with the artist Hans Arp and other World War I refugee poets, he founded the nihilistic movement known as Dada, from which surrealism was to develop. His works include La Première aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine/The First Heavenly Adventure of Mr Antipyrine 1916 and Vingt-cinq poèmes/Twenty-five Poems 1918, as well as Dadaist manifestos.

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