An Introduction to Prose Literature in French
At the beginning of Albert Camus’ novel L’Étranger we read:
« Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas. J’ai reçu un télégramme de l’asile: "Mère décédée. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distingués." Cela ne veut rien dire. C’était peut-être hier. »
How is the reader to make sense of this opening? What is an "asile"? Was the character’s mother mad? What does it say about the psychology of the character, or about his social situation? Why does he seem so distant, unaffected by the news of his mother’s death? What can the reader deduce about the discourse of this novel from the change in register from first person informal to the formal, impersonal phrasing of the telegram? Why are stories or narratives of a wide variety of types so popular in every culture? Can we systematise the study of these stories? These questions are a sample of those that might be asked of any text, literary or otherwise, and one of the purposes of this course is to introduce students to the analysis of a variety of complete texts in prose, drawn from the prose traditions of France and Québec from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
Students entering the course will have completed French 2602 so that their level of reading skills in French will be sufficient to tackle the texts to be studied. While teaching styles vary with the instructor, all require some extended essay writing as a means of exploring the texts to be studied. The language of instruction is French.
Some of the texts studied in recent years include: Voltaire Candide; Balzac Le Curé de Tours; Flaubert Trois Contes; Gide L’immoraliste; Camus L’Étranger; Godbout Salut Galarneau! Normally four or five texts are chosen for study.
French 3500 is normally offered in alternate academic years.
Together with and after 3500
Other introductory literature courses at the same level include French 3501, 3502, 3503, and 3504, any of which may be taken concurrently with French 3500. Two courses from this group are normally required for entry into 4000-level literature courses in French