Myth of Paris in French Lit
This course will examine the different aspects and the numerous meanings of the literary image of Paris in French literature from its medieval origins to its contemporary achievement. We will find the first occurrences of this image in François Villon’s poetry at the end of the Middle Ages, and, two and three centuries later, in Boileau’s Satires and Prevost’s and Diderot’s novels. The literary image of Paris reached its full development in the 19th century in the fiction of Balzac, Hugo, Flaubert and Zola and in Baudelaire’s poems: we will analyze the various moral, aesthetic, political, ideological components which make up the complete image. We will follow its evolution, fifty years later, in early 20th century poetry (Apollinaire, the Surréalistes) and then, before World War II, in Celine’s novels. On the way, we will explore other kinds of arts and artists, painters, singers, photographers, filmmakers, who, like writers, contributed to the development of a collective imaginary picture of the city —the myth of Paris.