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French classics

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Hard level of French classic books doesn't stop me from reading them, in the opposite whenever i start reading a new classic book i feel like it is a challenge for me.

Candide a great philosophic book of Candide that pushed to read that kind of books, and i have to admit that it is one of the best books that i have ever read in French, which pushed me to buy it in English too so that i can understand it well. I also read a book of Balzac called Eugenie Grandet and now i am reading a classic which name is madame Bovary of Flaubert.

What about you guys? has any one of you read that kind of books which is special in its genre?

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Voltaire's Candide is a great read, have you tried his other novella, L'Ingenu? Victor Hugo is also great, Notre-Dame de Paris is one of my favourite books. A bigger challenge would be my all-time favourite French books, François Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel.

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Madame Bovary by Flaubert is definitely a classic. Here in Switzerland, almost everybody reads this at school.

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Madame Bovary by Flaubert is definitely a classic. Here in Switzerland, almost everybody reads this at school.

The book is amazing... But to be honest i think that the first part is a little bit boring but when i started reading the second part, the book becomes more interesting, because that's when the change happens, and every day i just want to know what will Emma do and what will happen to her.

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I bought 20000 Leagues under the sea by Jules Verne when I went to France.  Haven't picked it up yet though as my French skills aren't at a high enough level. I'm always a bit nervy when I try to. It'll be a good challenge though.

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Madame Bovary is definitely a classic. I remember reading in it my grade 12 French class, and unfortunately I found it to be very boring! I thought that the main character was totally un relatable and that the story moved at a very slow pace.

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La Rue Cases-Nègres by Joseph Zobel was one of the first French Classics that I've read, and I loved every bit of it. Despite the serious theme, the narration managed to throw in a comedy tone now and then.

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Balzac's books are truly great and a pleasure to read. But if you are intimidated by the size, you can start with classics that are not as long, for example, short stories of Guy de Maupassant or André Maurois.

From the more recent classic authors, Albert Camus and Colette were exciting for me, as well as Françoise Sagan.

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Well, I must say that this is a fairly vast topic. I haven't read books in French, but I did read the translations of many classics and I will list a few of my favourites here. Considering how you mentioned that you don't mind hard books, I don't feel the pressure. 

I'll start from the Middle Ages. Well, considering that French was more or less "Old French" then, I don't know how much you'll enjoy these, but there are probably fairly good modern French adaptations. The two books I'd really like to mention here are Tristan et Iseult and Roman de la Rose. I'd read them in English, naturally, but I simply couldn't bypass them. What is so special about these is that they'd started the romance tradition. From France, it had spread to Britain and so on. One of the first stories about King Arthur also came from the French.

When it comes to later novels, I think you might enjoy Dumas and his Musketeers and Monte Cristo. Everyone knows about these and they should definitely be read. Hugo is good as well. I'd enjoyed Notre Dame, but I loved Les Misérables more! It's long, but really worth it. Honestly, Flaubert didn't impress me. I felt that Madame Bovary hadn't reached its full potential, but then again, I was 3rd grade of high-school then, so I can't really say that I would have the same opinion now. Jules Verne is more of a children's novelist, but his stories were very entertaining, definitely on the list. I wouldn't recommend Zola, though, unless you really love naturalism. He was too much for me. Leroux and Le Fantôme de l'Opéra are also a must, considering that the work is a part of the popular culture nowadays. It would be a shame to miss it.

When it comes to poetry... that one is a bit tricky. Although, you simply must read a few of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal. Everyone knows about it. I did like a few of the poems. Rimbaud and Verlaine are also fairly interesting.

I hope you will find something that interests you.

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