French Global

Recasting French literary history in terms of the cultures and peoples that interacted within and outside of France’s national boundaries, this volume offers a new way of looking at the history of a national literature, along with a truly global and contemporary understanding of language, literature, and culture.

The relationship between France’s national territory and other regions of the world where French is spoken and written (most of them former colonies) has long been central to discussions of “Francophonie.” Boldly expanding such discussions to the whole range of French literature, the essays in this volume explore spaces, mobilities, and multiplicities from the Middle Ages to today. They rethink literary history not in terms of national boundaries, as traditional literary histories have done, but in terms of a global paradigm that emphasizes border crossings and encounters with “others.” Contributors offer new ways of reading canonical texts and considering other texts that are not part of the traditional canon. By emphasizing diverse conceptions of language, text, space, and nation, these essays establish a model approach that remains sensitive to the specificities of time and place and to the theoretical concerns informing the study of national literatures in the twenty-first century.


The Forbidden Best-sellers of Pre-revolutionary France

His latest book vibrates with the strange political and literary energies of ancien régime France. The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France traces the merging of philosophical, sexual, and anti-monarchical interests into the pulp fiction of the 1780s, banned books that make fascinating reading more than two centuries later.

French literature of the eighteenth century means to us today Rousseau and Voltaire and the “classic” texts that, we imagine, gave rise to the Revolution. Yet very few of the standard works of the Enlightenment were as widely read as books whose names we have never heard, books that were the currency of a huge literary underground during the reign of Louis XVI. Included in this volume are Darnton’s translations of excerpts from three of these works.

After twenty-five years of research, Darnton has summarized his findings in one brilliant work that examines the reciprocal relationship between private literature and the public world, the (illegal) spread of Enlightenment thought, and the interesting possibility that the writings of some not-so-famous authors contributed to the fall of the French aristocracy.