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Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars French the Easy Way, October 24, 2010
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This review is from: French Tales (City Tales) (Paperback)
A pleasant introduction to the French short story from the late 19c to the late 20c. But, with two or three exceptions (to my mind), a rather light-weight selection. These exceptions feature Marcel Ayme's festively grim realism and Zola's straightforward, clean narrative skill in a tale that foretells the early heroism of the French army during the Great War; also pleasant, as always, is Colette's graceful, deft effectuation of primal sentimentality. Interestingly, these tales seem to ignore the great short-story models of their neighbors and of the American model. There is nothing of the swiftly defined stereotypes of a Boccaccio or the deep social despair of a Verga or the deft hysteria of a D'Annunzio; and none of these tales even approaches the emblamatic ritualism and humanity of a Kafka (far greater than a Robbe-Grillet) or the dramatic,fabulous downwards descent of incipient psychoses to be found in a Hoffman tale. Interestingly, the great American writers of the 19c turned to the Italian and German models; in the 20c Cheever seems more aware of the Italian than the French model, and Hemingway (and O'Hara) consciously eschews the intellectual element.

For further reading, try Constatine's tales of Paris; the excellent Dual Language Book series from Dover; and Penguin's excellent Parallel Text series. All available from Amazon.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 30, 2013, 3:20:01 PM PDT
monica says:
Believe me, I'm not getting at you but I'd much rather have learned why you thought most of the stories lightweight than of how you think they rate compared to Italian stories or to Kafka's or Hoffman's, never mind to American ones which seem more irrelevant still. But thanks for the suggested reading.
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