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A History of French Literature by Edward Dowden

Latest mediaeval poets the drama


_BOOK THE FIRST_--_THE MIDDLE AGES_

CHAPTER PAGE I. NARRATIVE RELIGIOUS POETRY--THE NATIONAL EPIC--THE EPIC OF ANTIQUITY--ROMANCES OF LOVE AND COURTESY . . . . . . . . 3

II. LYRICAL POETRY--FABLES, AND RENARD THE FOX--FABLIAUX--THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

III. DIDACTIC LITERATURE--SERMONS--HISTORY . . . . . . . . . . 40

IV. LATEST MEDIAEVAL POETS--THE DRAMA . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

_BOOK THE SECOND_--_THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY_

I. RENAISSANCE AND REFORMATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

II. FROM THE PLEIADE TO MONTAIGNE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

_BOOK THE THIRD_--_THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY_

I. LITERARY FREEDOM AND LITERARY ORDER . . . . . . . . . . . 131

II. THE FRENCH ACADEMY--PHILOSOPHY (DESCARTES)--RELIGION (PASCAL) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

III. THE DRAMA (MONTCHRESTIEN TO CORNEILLE) . . . . . . . . . . 160

IV. SOCIETY AND PUBLIC LIFE IN LETTERS . . . . . . . . . . . . 173

style="text-align: justify;"> V. BOILEAU AND LA FONTAINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183

VI. COMEDY AND TRAGEDY--MOLIERE--RACINE . . . . . . . . . . . 196

VII. BOSSUET AND THE PREACHERS--FENELON . . . . . . . . . . . . 219

VIII. TRANSITION TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY . . . . . . . . . . . 235

_BOOK THE FOURTH_--_THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY_

I. MEMOIRS AND HISTORY--POETRY--THE THEATRE--THE NOVEL . . . 251

II. MONTESQUIEU--VAUVENARGUES--VOLTAIRE . . . . . . . . . . . 273

III. DIDEROT AND THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA--PHILOSOPHERS, ECONOMISTS, CRITICS--BUFFON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294

IV. ROUSSEAU--BEAUMARCHAIS--BERNARDIN DE SAINT-PIERRE--ANDRE CHENIER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311

_BOOK THE FIFTH_--1789-1850

I. THE REVOLUTION AND THE EMPIRE--MADAME DE STAEL-- CHATEAUBRIAND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335

II. THE CONFLICT OF IDEAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 354

III. POETRY OF THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 363

IV. THE NOVEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 396

V. HISTORY--LITERARY CRITICISM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 411

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 429

INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 437

BOOK THE FIRST _THE MIDDLE AGES_

CHAPTER I NARRATIVE RELIGIOUS POETRY--THE NATIONAL EPIC--THE EPIC OF ANTIQUITY--ROMANCES OF LOVE AND COURTESY

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. By degrees the bourgeois spirit encroached upon and overpowered the chivalric ideals. At length the mediaeval conceptions were exhausted. Literature dwindled as its sources were impoverished; ingenuities and technical formalities replaced imagination. The minds of men were prepared to accept the new influences of the Renaissance and the Reformation.


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