French Classics

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    The Last Day of a Condemned Man

    By Victor Hugo

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    A first-person diary of a prisoner’s final day before being executed for an unspecified crime, Victor Hugo’s poignant tale vividly conveys the mental anguish of a man confronted with the intransigent mechanism of justice, as his mind seeks refuge in recollections from his past and philosophical musi…

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    The Etruscan Vase and Other Stories

    By Prosper Mérimée

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    When the young and sensitive Auguste Saint-Clair notices an Etruscan vase on the mantelpiece of his beloved Mathilde, he becomes gradually consumed by jealousy at the thought that it could be the gift of another man, and the situation escalates dramatically as he demands proof from her that she love…

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    Cheeks on Fire

    By Raymond Radiguet

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    Shortly before his death at the age of twenty, the young literary sensation Raymond Radiguet compiled a volume of his poetry, composed between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. Presented here, this prodigious oeuvre is notable as much for its homage to classical style as it is for its risqué and ev…

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    The Comic Romance

    By Paul Scarron

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    Paul Scarron’s masterpiece, The Comic Romance, recounts the adventures of a troupe of provincial itinerant actors, skilfully weaving multiple narrative strands – such as the personal histories and love stories of the central couples Destiny and Star and Léandre and Angélique, the farcical misadventu…

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    The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs

    By Simone Benmussa

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    Set in a big Dublin hotel of the mid-nineteenth century, The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs is a total theatre creation. In it, we discover that Albert, the perfect waiter – who never drinks, smokes or flirts with the chambermaids – is in fact a woman who once dressed as a man to avoid poverty and is…

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    Madame Bovary

    By Gustave Flaubert

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    Beautiful Emma Rouault yearns for the life of wealth, passion and romance she has encountered in popular sentimental fiction, and when her doctor, the well-meaning but awkward and unremarkable Charles Bovary, begins to pay her attention, she imagines that she may be granted her wish. However, after…

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    Travels in the South of France

    By Stendhal

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    From his Baker Street apartment, Sherlock Holmes wields his powers of deduction in pursuit of justice and truth, venturing out into foggy Victorian London accompanied by his faithful sidekick Dr Watson. This classic collection of Holmes tales includes many of the detective’s most-loved exploits: Hol…

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    The Red Notebook

    By Benjamin Constant

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    Published posthumously, The Red Notebook is an account of the youth of the author of the seminal Romantic novel Adolphe, relating Constant’s eccentric and peripatetic education, his introduction to European high society and the kindling of his literary ambitions – as well as his often comic and cala…

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    Exercises in Style

    By Raymond Queneau

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    On a crowded bus at midday, the narrator observes one man accusing another of jostling him deliberately. When a seat is vacated, the first man takes it. Later, in another part of town, the man is spotted again, while being advised by a friend to have another button sewn onto his overcoat. Exercises…

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    The Dream

    By Émile Zola

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    Finding the young Angelique on their doorstep one Christmas Eve, the pious Hubert couple decide to bring her up as their own. As the girl grows up in the vicinity of the town’s towering cathedral and learns her parents’ trade of embroidery, she becomes increasingly fascinated by the lives of the sai…

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    Pleasures and Days

    By Marcel Proust

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    Proust's only other work of fiction published in his lifetime apart from the monumental novel cycle 'In Search of Lost Time, Pleasures and Days' takes the reader on a journey through the high-society circles of fin-de-siecle Paris, presenting the lives, loves and attitudes of a host o…

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    The Gods Want Blood

    By Anatole France

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    Set in Paris during the years of the Reign of Terror, 'The Gods Want Blood' centres on the rise to power of Jacobin sympathizer Evariste Gamelin, a young painter who becomes a juror on a local Revolutionary tribunal. Caught up in the bloodthirsty madness surrounding him, he helps to dispen…

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