1902 Encyclopedia > France > French Literature – Bibliography

(Part 75)



The bibliography of such a subject as French literature cannot be dealt with here exhaustively. We shall, however, indicate the principal works on the subjects, and its subdivisions, which will serve to fill up the outline of the foregoing pages. On the general subject there is no work in English of any extent, except the recent compilation of Mr H. Van Laun (Edinburgh). Notices more or less detailed of the earliest periods will be found in Hallam’s works, and of the 17th and 18th centuries (which must, however, be read with great caution) in Buckle’s History of Civilisation in Europe. The chief English critical periodicals will supply monographs, though until recently in no great abundance, of the chief names and some of the chief forms. Mr Besant’s French Poets and French Humorists may be notices. In French the chief works on the whole subject are that of Géruzez, already noticed, and another by Demogeot. These works are both excellent, and being composed on different plans, they may with advantage be read together. They are chiefly deficient with regard to the earliest and latest literature.

For the literature of the Middle Ages the fountain-head is the ponderous Histoire Littéraire already referred to, which, notwithstanding that it extends to 27 quarto volumes, and has occupied, with interruptions, 150 years in publication, has only reached the 14th century. Many of the monographs which it contains are the best authorities on their subjects, such as that of M.P. Paris on the early chansonniers, of M.V. Leclerc on the fabliaux, and of M. Littré on the romans d’aventures. For the history of literature before the 11th century, the period mainly Latin J.J. Ampére’s Histoire Littéraire de la France avant Charlemagne, sous Charlemagne, et jusqu’au on sièle is the chief authority. Léon Gautier’s Epopécs Françaises (4 vols., but now reprinting on a still larger scale) contains almost everything known concerning the chansons de gestes. M. P. Paris’s Romans de la Table Ronde is the main authority for this subject, though it does not include the contributions of Chrétien de Troyes. On the cycle of Reynard the standard work is Rothe, Les Romans du Renart. All parts of the lighter literature of old France are excellently treated by M. Lenient, Le Satire au Moyen Age. The early theatre has been frequently treated by the brothers Parfaict (Histoire du Théâtre Français), by Fabre (Les Clercs de la Bazonche), by Leroy (Étude sur les Mystères), by Aubertin (Histoire de la Langue et de la Littèrature Française au Moyen Age). This latter book, recently completed, ill be found a useful summary of the whole mediaeval period. The historical, dramatic, and oratorical sections are especially full.

On the 16th century an excellent handbook has recently been written by MM. Damesteter and Hatzfeld. Sainte-Beuve’s Tableau has been more than once referred to. Ebert (Entwicklungsgeschichte der Französischen Tragödie vornchmlich im 16tenhrhundert) is the chief authority for dramatic matters. The various editions of the great authors of this and other periods do not need special reference. For Provençal the most convenient and trustworthy handbook is Karl Bartsch, Grundriss zur Geschichte der Provenzalischen Literatur. In English, Dr Hueffer’s Troubadours is the only work of value.

The 17th century, as the supposed classical age, ahs been repeatedly treated in French. We may mention Sainte-Beuve’s Studies on Port Royal, Demogeot’s Tableau du 17èmeècle avant Corneille, and Gèruzez (Essais d’ Histoire Littèraire). Godefroy’s Histoire de la Litt. Française depuis le 16ème Siecle jusqu’a nos jours is an important work, as yet carried no further than the Revolution.

On the 18th century we may mention, in English, Mr Carlyle’s essays on Voltaire and Diderot, and Mr John Morley’s elaborate and exhaustive works on Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau, with his smaller essays on Turgot, Vauvenargues, &c. In French, the works of Vinet, Godefroy, and Villemain, and for the philosophical side Damiron may be consulted. The best work on the period, in a small compass, is, however, a Tableau which M. Godefroy has published in addition to his larger work. Post-Revolution literature is as yet too recent to have been treated in works of sufficient comprehension to be notices here. We may, however, mention Gèruzez, Littèrature de la Rèvolution, and Nettement, Littèrature Française sous la Restauration et la Monarchie de Juillet.

On the subject of popular poetry, which, though a contrary impression appears to prevail in England, is of extreme importance in French literature, the main authorities are,—for the Breton district, M. Luzel (Chants Populaires de la Basse-Bretagne), (the more famous works of M. dela Villemargu Breton district, M. Luzel (Chants Populaires de la Basse-Bretagne), (the more famous works of M. dela Villemarguè, Barsaz-Breiz and others, are of doubtful trustworthiness); for those of Lorraine, M. de Puymaigre; fro those of Champagen, M. Tarbè. M. Haupt’s Französische Volkslieder, Gaston Paris’s Chansons du 15 Siècle, Wackernagel’s Alt-Französische Lider und Leiche, and Bartsch’s Romanzen und Pastourellen may also be consulted, though rather for specimens than for comment. (G. SA)

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