Love and romance is very important to the French people and so are many other good things like great food, fine wine and mouth-watering sweets. The French love listening to good music and they have many great musicians. However, this is not all that the French has to offer. Just as they give it their all in almost everything they do, they also have very great writers known in the entire world.

These writers make the French literature what it is today and help to define French history much better through their books. Without them, no one would ever know how good the French could write. No one would know much about medieval literature, renaissance literature and other French literature genres. Below are the groundbreaking French authors you should make a point of reading at one time or another.


Candide Ou L’Optimisme by Voltaire

Voltaire is a historian best known for his book “Candide”. During the 18th – century there was movement called the age of enlightenment intellectual movement that Voltaire was actively part of. He loved coffee and reports said he took around 50 cups in any single day. Maybe that is where he got all his energy to write.

Victor Hugo

Les Misérables. Fiction by Victor Hugo

The revered Victor Hugo’s books are some of the most widely read in many parts of the world. “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and “Les Miserables” are very popular books and masterpieces written to thrill by this talented author. His favorite quote was “To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”

Marcel Proust

Proust, Marcel (1871 – 1922)

Marcel Proust is probably one of the most celebrated legendary French authors. Best known for his classic masterpiece 3200 page novel “In Search of Lost Time”, his grave at the Pere Lachaise cemetery continues to attract hundreds of tourists and readers from the entire world.

Guy De Maupassant

Boule de Suif short story by Guy de Maupassant

He was a protégé of Guy Maussant and an author of short stories. His short stories are very modern and many movies are in circulation today from Guy de Maupassant’s short stories. He is second to Shakespeare according to many reports and for anyone to get the same mention as Shakespeare then he must be good.

Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary novel of Gustave Flaubert, 1856

Gustave  known for his masterpiece classic “Madame Bovary “is another renowned and one of the best French literary giants France has ever produced. One of his best-known protégés was Guy de Maupassant. Many consider Gustave Flaubert to be a great inspiration

Émile Zola

Émile Zola, 1840-1902

The Captain Dreyfuss scandal is very hard to forget in France. This scandal of the 19th – century shot Émile Zola to fame when he wrote a letter to the then French president seeking justice for Captain Dreyfuss. The letter that he titled J’accuse received a wide coverage and thousands of people read it. It also caused a big rift between liberals and conservatives in France. The letter however helped with captain Dreyfuss exoneration eight years later. Zola has other novels, plays and short stories to his name. He is arguably one of the most groundbreaking authors of French history.

Charles Baudelaire

The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire

Poetry was and still is very important to the French people. One of the authors who popularized French poetry was Charles Baudelaire. “The flowers of Evil” (Les Fleurs du mal) is one of his best-known book of poems. He paved way for other like-minded poets like Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. Some of his true followers even referred to him as the “king of poets” and a “true god” going to show just how good his work is.

Albert Camus

The stranger by Albert Camus, 1942

Author of “The Stranger”, Albert Camus book is about the philosophy of the absurd and philosophical movement of the 20th – century that assumes people are wholly responsible for what they make themselves look or come out as. His favorite quote was “Still, obviously, one can’t be sensible all the time.”   He spent almost all his life studying about existentialism. During his free time, Camus spent days having a relaxing time at the café de Flore and Parisian café.

There are very many other prolific French authors that are worth a mention, but the above eight authors are some of the best well-known known French literature authors. They will not only inspire you through their literary work but will leave you asking for more. They are all worth a try.

Literature is a narration where words flow in the minds of characters created by a writer. The thoughts created to form a flowing story give anyone reading the piece of literature the impression that they are inside the characters mind. This makes understanding every piece of written literature interesting and motivating. Literature varies from writer to writer and from period to period. We also have different genres of literature ranging from poetry, fiction, non-fiction, plays, drama, folktales romance, prose and many others.

French literature evolved from what it was in the Middle Ages to what we have today as modern literature. Below are the stages French literature went through to be what it is today.

Medieval Literature

Marie de France

French literature goes back to the medieval times. This was between the 11th and the 15th centuries. There was a lot of creative work then and this period saw many poets, jongleurs and clercs display their literary skills through different genres. Some of the best medieval literature poets during this time were Aube, JeuParti, Chanson and Chant Royal. Also among the medieval French writers, using the old French language was Canticle of Saint and Eulalie. Besides poetry and other written work, there were also theatre genres made up of plays of passion, plays of mystery, plays of morality and plays of miracles.

16th – Century Literature

Works of Guillaume du Bartas

After Medieval literature, there was French Renaissance literature. This was 16th – century literary works, which was the highest level of rebirth or French Renaissance. During this period, there was use of middle French language and people could finally read great works of literary work due to the introduction of printing press.

17th – Century Literature

Jean de La Fontaine

After French Renaissance literature, things changed tremendously in the literary world.  The birth of seventieth – century literature saw many writers and poets with better taste, knowledge and creativity than the renaissance literature writers did. Order and clarity in written work improved and there was better expression and building of characters. Some of the best-known seventieth – century writers are Jean Racine and Madame de la Fayette.

18th – Century Literature

Portrait of Moliere

Thereafter came the eighteenth – century literature when French was going through modernization. Great and prominent playwrights emerged at this time bringing with them interesting literature. Some of the eighteenth – century, literary French giants included Moli

ere, Corneille and Racine.

19th – Century Literature

Proust, Marcel

Nineteenth – century literature followed the eighteenth – century literature. During this period, France had started developing tremendously and there was a heightened thirst for literature. This period saw literary written work start to bloom. It was during this period that a group of French writers popularly known as “Advanced Romantics” started a romantic movement. This they did from the influence of a similar “Advanced Romantics” group of writers that started in Germany, England and Spain. They wanted to change the old way of viewing romance and bring something different into their stories. Their claims that romance lacked reason saw them create romance stories that had imaginations and emotions. During this period, French literature was a great success both at home and internationally. Besides romance, other genres that made nineteenth – century literature stand out were naturalism, poetry and symbolism.

20th – Century Literature

From 1900 to 1999, twentieth – century literature made more turnarounds. Literature got better and some happening in other parts of the world greatly influence literature of the twentieth – century. Some of these were French colonialism of some states, African imperialism, and Algerian independence war among others.

Contemporary Literature

Tristan Garcia’s book Faber, The Destroyer

Today, we have contemporary French literature. What influences Todays contemporary French literatures are events happening from across the globe like the spread of terrorism, unemployment that causes a lot of imbalance in the standards of living, racism and violence seen in many parts of the world. Some of the best-known French contemporary writers are Christophe fiat and Tristan Garcia.

From the medieval periods of the 11th – century to today’s contemporary French literature, there has been a tremendous growth of French literature. Some of the best-known writers in the world today, some of them award winning writers, are French and have put French literature in the map worldwide. As the world moves forward and with the onset of technology, French literature continues to grow every day as there is always something influencing its growth. French novels that touch on romantic literature makes love come out as so passionately. If its nature, one can feel the beauty of it in the writings. Writers express themselves much better today than they did back then.