French Literature and Civilization

The Enchantment of French Literature and Civilization

A Series of Bi-lingual Lectures (in English and French)


  • To introduce one to the sensual and intellectual pleasures of French civilization through a study of the works of some of the greatest minds in France in the field of literature, philosophy and the arts
  • To develop in one a deep understanding of civilizations through comparative studies of East-West schools of thought and Indo-French connections throughout history

Level requirement: Lectures are conducted in English and French.

Content: 10 lectures among the following:

  1. The Passion for Exoticism in the Eighteenth Century: “Les Lettres Persanes” by Montesquieu;
  2. The Gentleman-Moralist of the Sixteenth Century: Montaigne’s “Essais”;
  3. Theatre and the French Revolution: Beaumarchais’ groundbreaking “The Marriage of Figaro”
  4. Magic, Maya, the ‘trompe l’œil and Illusion in the Age of the Baroque (Sixteenth-Seventeenth centuries)
  5. “Fabulous India” in French Literature and Civilization
  6. Indian imagery of the “Panchatantra,” bestiary and Tantrism in the “Fables” by La Fontaine and French ‘Orientalists’
  7. The Age of Enlightenment and Eighteenth Century “philosophers”:  Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and their time
  8. A Sentimental journey through French “Courtly Love” – “La Carte Du Tendre” – and the Salon culture of the Seventeenth century
  9. Romanticism versus Classicism: Victor Hugo and “The Battle of Hernani”
  10. Repression under the French ‘bourgeoisie” in modern literature in the works of Francois Mauriac, André Gide, and the war generations
  11. Sartre, Camus, existentialism and post-modernism
  12. Poetry of the ‘wandering minstrels, les troubadours, to the Sixteenth century – Ronsard, Du Bellay and others
  13. The Romantic Poets: Vigny, Musset, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire and others
  14. Where Art meets Poetry:  The Dadaist and Surrealist movements: Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Éluard, André Breton and Salvador Dali, Matisse, Max Ernst – the painters

Frequency:    2 hours a week for 10 weeks