The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book The French New Criticism

The French New Criticism

An Introduction and a Sampler Laurent Lesage
  • Copyright: 1966
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 8. 5
  • Page Count: 150 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-73125-4

Resounding quarrels, proclamations, and repudiations have punctuated the story of modern French literature. Recently the New Novelists were shouting their assertions and denunciations while the old guard replied with sneers and shrugs. But now, although they have not said their last word, the New Novelists have yielded the arena to the critics.

A new school of criticism, lofty in its ambitions and claims, has developed in France to oppose the traditional approaches to literature. The New Novelists used Balzac as their whipping boy; the New Critics used Sainte-Beuve, guilty, in their eyes, of having led French criticism into the errors of scientism and impressionism. Anecdote, biography, time-place-race, taste of a gentlemen, scholarly objectivity—all this they would abandon in favor of studying in depth the inner structure of a work and the creative processes of its author.

Among the New Critics are some of the most brilliant and original minds of the day. Their impact upon literary thinking throughout the world promises to exceed that of the Russian formalists, the American new critics, or the German theorists of Stilforschung, who scarcely got beyond national frontiers. Like the New Novelists, the New Critics are carrying their campaign abroad and have already appeared on American campuses. For the United States at large, however, they are still comparatively unknown, and little of their of their writing has been translated.

Like the author's French New Novel, this volume is an introduction and a sampler—an invitation to become acquainted with some of the significant personalities in the avant-garde of French literature.

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