The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, Vol. 13 by Charles William Eliot
(Classic Reprint)

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French, not without reason, pride themselves on the skillful technique of their works of fiction. During the whole period of modern French literature, the authors, whether of five and ten volume romances like Mile. de Scudery, or of short tales like Alphonse Daudet and Guy de Maupassant, have been conscious literary artists. Moreover, except during the romantic outburst of our first half of the nineteenth century, which produced the exuberant fantasies of persons like Alexandre Dumas the elder, they have usually sought psychological analysis and the presentation of character. This aim has, on the whole, been consistently pursued in both divisions of French fiction, the idealistic and the realistic novels. Works of these two types appear, judging from their names, to move in different planes. But the connection of both kinds with life has been fairly close, and, in the seventeenth century, discussion of popular romances was so much the preoccupation of social circles such as the Hotel de Rambouillet, that not only did the novelist try to portray characters he saw, but the leisure classes often sought to model their life after the pattern of the fiction they read. At the threshold of the seventeenth century we come upon one of the most important novels ever written in France because of its influence, even if to-day unread except by specialists, the great pastoral romance A stree. Though the scenes of the story take place in a world impossible and unreal by its anachronisms, and though the characters are as untrue as can be to the civilization of the Gaul in which they are supposed to live, nevertheless the author, Honore d Urfe, would have us see in his creations human beings, perhaps in some cases to be identified by a key. Their language, highflown and sentimental though it be, fulfills the authors desire to analyze feelings.
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)

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About Charles William Eliot

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Published August 2, 2010 by Nabu Press. 522 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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