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French Classics


I'm about halfway through the skill tree for French, and I am wondering: when I get to the end of this, will reading French literature be pleasant?

I'd like to begin incorporating as much untranslated French into my language learning routine as possible. Any suggestions on some of the easiest stuff to get started on?

Thanks for your help.

August 31, 2017



Albert Camus's "L'Étranger" is an excellent place to begin. The narrator is numbed of feeling, and Camus expresses this with short, simple sentences. I also liked reading Charles Perrault's "Contes," which are his telling of famous fairy tales. Georges Feydeau wrote hilarious farces, which are fun to read and to see performed. La Rochefoucauld's "Maximes" are cynical one-liners that are very elegantly expressed. Jacques Prévert's "Paroles" are serious poems that use very, very simple language.

Believe it or not, 17th- and 18th-century ("classical") French literature is much easier to read than 19th-century ("romantic") French literature. In the earlier period, they used a much more restricted vocabulary. Balzac and Hugo in the original French are not for beginners!

Be warned that finishing the French skill tree teaches only as much as a semester of French, so there will still be a lot of the language you haven't seen.


I can't tell you how long I've been waiting to read The Stranger in French. It was the first book that made me understand the meaning of "lost in translation."


It's not a book, but if you want more exposure to the French language, France 24 runs their 24/7 news broadcast on Youtube. I try to watch an hour a day if I have time. It'll help you build vocabulary AND train your ears to what native french sounds like.


Try the books of Jules verne! He was a French sience fiction writer who wrote exciting books, although some of the information is quite out-of-date. Trust me, they are exciting books!


Thanks all!

I've only just made it to the past tense verbs of the French tree, so I still have a long row to ❤❤❤. I just get tired of constant translation, and thought I might get into some texts sooner rather than later.

The suggestion to watch French news is a good one, I will have to start. Not too long ago I watched a French movie with English subtitles to understand the plot, then went back and watched it again in French. That was pretty helpful!

I asked at my local library; they have exactly zero books written in French. How sad.

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