French subscription literature

Site: dolanguages
Course: dolanguages
Book: French subscription literature
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Date: Monday, 17 January 2022, 8:07 AM

Description

The dolanguages resources are a systematic approach to teaching literature through the target language in class.  They consist of * full page by page vocabulary* detailed gapped summary (8 pages average)* searching questions* contextualised grammar for enrichment and analysis* essay preparation tools with sample plan and essay* links to the best external resources.  They will save you much preparation time and enhance the learning experience.

All the French content on the site is available to subscribers to the French package at £30.   You can purchase your subscription for French only here, or you could opt for all languages at £45. Your login details will be set up manually and sent to your email address.

Annual subscription charge

1. Find out more about exercise types

See introductory video on home page for detailed walk-through of the exercise types   

Studying literature requires a long-term strategy, commencing with a reading of the book for enjoyment in the target language, no little challenge when there is a huge body of unknown vocabulary.    The dolanguages resources below contain the following elements (not all necessarily all of them) to help you tackle this project successfully.

Full French-English page by page vocabulary list

The vocabulary list is the activity which will save you the most time, particularly if you are a non-native speaker of English.   The list can be downloaded in pdf format for students to flick through on a mobile phone or on an ipad.   

Gapped summary with full vocabulary

The summaries capture the essential elements of the film at the level of detail required at the same time as requiring students to find the appropriate part of key verbs.   This provides a quick aide-mémoire of the film when required as well as boosting vocabulary relevant to the content.

Questions

Detailed questions covering the full novel require detailed recall of the content and can be used orally and/or in writing.   

The visual guide to the book

This is available for L'étranger, Kiffe kiffe demain, L'étranger, Bonjour Tristesse, No et moi, Thérèse Desqueyroux and Un Secret and the drawings are designed to make students remember key thematic points and quotations as sell as episodes they may have forgetten.

Character

The character profile tool gives a full range of appropriate adjectives to enable students to describe protagonists in a sophisticated manner.   Suggested sentence starts are given to encourage a high quality of language.

Motivation of characters

The motivation of characters tool is a sentence builder encouraging thinking skills.   Using a wide range of second verb infinitives students can weigh up why the protagonists act in a particular way in a sophisticated way.

Character arc tool

This tool enables students to capture the state of mind of the protagonists at the start of a novel and track how various turning points and events affect their mentality, right through to the dénouement to evaluate whether a real change has been effected.

Contextualised grammar

The A factor exercises concentrate on encouraging students to vary the structures they use for writing the essay, including the present participle, the passive and the present subjunctive.    Exercises are given in context covering the full length of the film.

Multi-tense tool

Students appreciate being able to see examples of contextualised sentences with key verbs used in the full range of tenses in a simple exercise to increase awareness

Direct/Indirect speech

Students link direct speech quotations to the protagonists and then transform the direct speech to indirect speech sentences, a key process for giving key evidence in essay writing.

Essay writing process

List of unused essay titles for practice whilst going through novel.

Essay planning and sample essay

An essay plan using a template is used with advice on creating each step of the process.

The sample essay is designed to demonstrate successful essay techniques.

Modified essays

Student essays with comments on how to improve them and in some cases corrected versions.

Useful external links

There is a considerable amount of useful material available from literature related websites, universities and exam boards and we have linked to some of the best examples.

 

 

 


2. Antigone

antigone

Reasons to study this work
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A short, straightforward play with accessible language this would be an interesting work to cover, not least due to the ambiguity of the message;  when the play was performed, some took it for an apology for collaboration whilst others saw it as Anouilh saw it, a protest against misguided leadership, such as that of Pétain, the head of the Vichy government.

The interest of the novel
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Written in February 1944 when Anouilh was becoming conscious of the sacrifices of those resisting the German occupation of France, Antigone, based on the Greek Sophocles play of the same name, demonstrates the heroism of the eponymous character against the tyranny of Créon, the king.

Having just defeated Antigone's two rebellious brothers, sons of Oedipus Créon allows one to be honoured whilst the other must lie where he fell on the field of battle as a warning.   Antigone, despite the fact that she is shortly due to marry Créon's son, insists on ensuring that her brother is tolerably buried.

This play then puts Antigone at odds with Créon in a tragic, heroic role as is typical of the Greek theatre.  

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antigone


3. Bonjour Tristesse

bonjour tristesse

Reasons to study this work
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SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Written in a literary style, Bonjour Tristesse has a narrative power and strong story line which makes it appealing to young people although it becomes more difficult to take in in the second part when there is more introspection.   

The interest of the novel
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This short novel written during the summer holidays by 18 year old Françoise Sagan was a succès de scandale in 1952. Conservative French society took a dim view of a young girl befriending and then bedding an older young man ; the fact that she was also prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to get her own way to preserve her privileged relationship with her father raised eyebrows.

The criticism was to no avail as the novel carried all before it both in France and abroad. All 17 year olds could identify with the feelings of Cécile the narrator, who is spending her summer holiday on the Côte d'Azur in the lap of luxury with her adored father. When he announces that he is inviting a female friend of his deceased wife to spend some time at the villa alongside the glamourous girlfriend with whom he is already sleeping, we all know there are going to be fireworks.

Inhabiting Cécile's head we become increasingly infuriated at her pretentiousness and the selfish manner in which she begins to manipulate situations in order to get what she wants. Generations of students have enjoyed this novel which certainly lives up to its enigmatic title.

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bonjour tristesse

4. Boule de Suif

boule de suif

Reasons to study the novel
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The collection has enormous resonance as France suffered occupation again on three occasions, from 1914-1918 and from 1940-1944/5 so this the first is an interesting precursor to the better known ones.   Maupassant's metaphorical style is second to none and his ability to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the ruling classes strikes own as much today as it did in the 1870's.

The interest of the novel
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With wars constantly being in the headlines it is fascinating to read accounts of how people coped during previous conflicts; in the case of this collection, the nature of occupation by a hated foreign power. The invasion of France by the Prussian army did not last long but it left a lasting impression on the psyche of the country; Maupassant, renowned for his tales of suspense and surprise endings, turned his hand to the patriotic short story, creating a number of unforgettable characters.

In the main story, the eponymous Boule de suif, a lady of easy virtue characterizes the attitude found in the heroes of each story; a woman who goes about her job in a professional way albeit looked down by her fellow travellers refuses to sleep with a German officer. Her fellow travellers, initially supportive, soon tire of being holed up in an hotel and subtly put pressure on her so they can continue their journey. The writer uses the story as a pretext to attack the credentials of a number of political foes as he demonstrates the purity of Boule de suif's innocent patriotism.

The accompanying short stories do not have the same depth but all decry the way in which the invader is prepared to take advantage of the subject people.

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boule de suif

5. Kiffe kiffe demain

kiffe kiffe demain

Reasons to study the novella

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SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Although fairly banal in the way the narrator talks about her daily preoccupations, her experience builds up into a useful vision of life in the suburbs today for many immigrant families.   As such it illustrates the thematic topics around immigration without an emphasis on violence as is the case with films like La haine.  

The interest of the novella
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Written by 19 year old Faïza Guène, daughter of north African immigrants this account of a year in one girl's life is presented in approachable, ironically humorous chapters rich in detail about what if feels like to belong to a less favoured group in society.

The sarcastic, cynical Doria, thrown into poverty by the departure of her father who hankers after a male son, references popular culture as her main source of metaphor. The language is direct, almost in diary format and is very contemporary in style with some use of verlan.

The narrator savages the heroine as well as the succession of social workers who come to help her and her mother. As she finds stability through her further education course and love from an unexpected direction Doria grudgingly accepts what the French state is doing for her.

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kiffe kiffe demain

6. La Gloire de mon Père

la gloire de mon pere

Reasons to study the work
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Although difficult from the point of view of vocabulary (mitigated by use of our page by page vocab list) this account of Pagnol's childhood is simply fun with a depth of humanity typical of the film director.

The interest of the work
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Towards the end of his career, Pagnol was asked to write his autobiography in serial format for a magazine.  The result was this charming account of  his idyllic childhood in Marseille and in the surrounding area for  his holiday. 

Pagnol captures the nature of childhood and particularly worship of one's father and the way this is gradually tempered by experience.  He also pictures an environment which is in short supply in Provence, the garrigue.  

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la gloire de mon pere

7. Le Bal

le bal

Reasons to study the work
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There is plenty to say about this short story which is straightforward to read and just as relevant as it was in its day in what it has to say about relationships, greed and social climbing.   Exquisitely toe-curling.

The interest of the work
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This short story by Irène Némirovsky follows the trend so masterfully set by De Maupassant fifty years earlier.    Daughter of a Russian immigré the young Némirovsky created a body of work in the 20's and 30's which would go out of fashion after the war only to be revived with the discovery of her unpublished Suite française.

The author as she proved in her most famous work of the time  David Golder took pleasure in denouncing the attitudes of her own milieu and in particular the world of banking albeit sometimes resorting to damaging stereotypes.   David Golder became one of the first talkie films.   

Lesser known is this work which in its turn introduces a cast of pretty unattractive characters.   The author conjures up rich, nouveau riche parents who are throwing their first high society ball in an endeavour to enhance their position in society.   Their teenage daughter who would have liked to have spent at least a few minutes strutting her stuff at this event is refused point blank.   This refusal unleashes the second half of the plot.

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le bal

8. Le blé en herbe

le ble en herbe

Reasons to study the work
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Le blé en herbe was a very controversial work in its day due to the  sexual nature of the content of the novel although it will be interesting for literary inclined modern young people to see to what extent an author would cloak sensual experience in discrete and subtle linguistic euphemism.

The interest of the work
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Colette was a prolific author whose first work was written at the turn of the 19th century under the tutelage of her first husband. The author lived a life as worthy of note as many of the more risqué stars of today and was never far from courting controversy.

Phil and Vinca's families have been sharing a holiday home in Britanny since the children were very young. As they reach adolescence Phil and Vinca are becoming attracted to each other and both see a certain inevitability in their eventual marriage. However, teenage hormones being what they are the summer in question is full of challenge for both young people following the arrival of the exotic Madame Dalleray at the villa near the village.

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le ble en herbe

9. Les amants d'Avignon

les amants d'avignon

Reasons to study the work
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For anyone studying the occupation this is a must read which gives a really good feel for what it was like to live through;   it would be useful to study alongside something like La rafle which deals exclusively with the persecution of the Jews.


The interest of the work
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Elsa Triolet, hard line communist and wife of Louis Aragon the poet published this short novel as part of a larger collection which won the Prix Goncourt in 1945.   

The novel was published by the clandestine Éditions de minuit in 1943 at a similar time to the more well-known Le silence de la mer by Vercors.  Unlike the latter this riveting story traces the life of one of the brave women who carried out the day to day work of the resistance, finding places to hide those who needed hiding, transporting blank ID and ration cards and generally acting as a go-between for the leaders.   Women and especially attractive ones such as Juliette Noel were very much used in order to distract the enemy.   The narrator makes much of Juliette's attractions and her irresistibility to men, indeed this becomes the central theme-what is this impossible occupation situation that gets in the way of such a beautiful person enjoying a romantic attachment.   Love is something that existed before the war for which there is no place now.   

The author has a sharp ear for the concerns of the time which she evokes in conversations to which Juliette is witnesses in the train;  the sense of immersion in the period is very strong as specific events, song and film titles are referred to.   She avoids stereotypes with the German agents being like the French men around around her enraptured by her charms.   

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les amants d'avignon


10. Les petits enfants du siècle

les petits enfants du siecle

Reasons to study the work
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Still a very enlightening and amusing, this novel has the power to move.   It would interest students who intend to study French culture at university as it bookends the period from the 60s to the year 2005 with Kiffe kiffe demain.

The interest of the work
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Christiane Rochefort's highly ironic and entertaining novel which appeared as the so called "Trente Glorieuses" period of rapid growth was going on, rails against the materialism fuelling this development.

The protagonist Jo, who is also the narrator, spends her early life looking after the latest new baby that the parents have brought into the world in order to benefit from the financial incentives being awarded to encourage the population to grow.

Despite enjoying her school work Jo doesn't get chance to follow this through and she becomes sexualised very young as she seeks affection from the first person to show an interest in her.

There are many amusing episodes in the book although the feeling we are left with is one of upset at seeing a young person wasting her opportunities and following inexorably in the parental footsteps.


les petits enfants du siecle

11. L'étranger

l'etranger

SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Reasons to study the work
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L'étranger is variously described as a masterpiece and/or a work to exercise the minds of baccaulauréat students with its wealth of philosophical references.  Gradually achieving notoriety throughout the world, the short novel is still a "must read" for serious students of French.

The interest of the work
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This short novel by Camus is easily the most popular to be studied in UK schools, combining as it does content which is open to interpretation of all kinds with very accessible language.   The first line of the novel "Maman est morte aujourd'hui" is certainly the best known start opening in French and it heralds one of the main issues.   Meursault, the narrator of the story,  is condemned more for his ambivalent attitude towards his mother at her funeral than he is for the  crime he commits at the end of the first half of the book.  

Camus portrays a young man, driven by his senses rather than any moral or religious code of behaviour.   Unable or unwilling to make ethical decisions just to keep up appearances Meursault, who likes nothing more than to be left in peace, is drawn into a social situation over which he has no control.  Drawn into a confrontational situation not of his own making, Meursault kills another man, an anonymous Arab and then has to face the consequences.

The second part of the novel demonstrates that the world is not such a free place as Meursault imagined as he confronts the social networks controlling society:  religion, the law and convention.   We begin to empathize as the Meursault, who is the narrator,  realizes to what extent he has proved himself to be inhuman, not by killing an unarmed native inhabitant of this country but by ostensibly lacking respect towards his mother,

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l'etranger

12. No et moi

no et moi

SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Reasons to study the work
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The short chapters, contemporary topics presented and accessible language make this novel a very approachable one.  The film of the book complements the film well helping students visualize modern French society realistically

The interest of the work
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No et moi tackles head on one of the open wounds of modern society l'exclusion.   Gifted Lou is insecure in herself, lacking affection from her grieving mother.  Whilst watching trains arriving and observing the display of affection of travellers as they meet their friends and family, Lou meets homeless late-teen No.  She decides to devote her feared class exposé to the subject of homeless young women and engages No in conversation.   After the successful presentation has taken place No disappears.

The rest of novel traces how Lou does her best to help the older girl;  through her innocent eyes we see a world of which we cannot as a society be too proud, a world where the needs of our children are not fully met.  We also see that by helping to heal other people we can heal ourselves, that it is possible to get into a virtuous circle if only we care enough.  The book is realistic in that some problems can be too bad to solve-it has thus important messages to get across to a present day audience.

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no et moi

13. Thérèse Desqueyroux

therese desqueyroux

Reasons to study the work

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For serious students of literature Thérèse Desqueyroux represents a great opportunity to study a wide range of narrative techniques in the context of a thoroughly fascinating novel, not least the male 3rd person narrator telling the story through the female protagonist's view point.   

The interest of the work
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This rich, brooding novel written from the point of view of Thérèse the eponymous "heroine" is firmly set in the south west of France in the forests of the Landes.   Mauriac's characters play out the feminine condition of the time, before nascent feminism has percolated through to the provinces;  at the start of the novel Thérèse has managed to escape conviction for the poisoning of her husband Bernard.   The rest of the novel concentrates on how this point was arrived at in flashback.

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therese desqueyroux

14. Un sac de billes

un sac de billes

SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Reasons to study the work
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The fact that Joffo manages to make this book so human and so funny is what makes it stand out from the crowd:  there are plentiful books and films out there about the occupation but Un sac de billes has lessons to impart beyond encouraging people to be on the look out for persecution.

The novel is fairly long compared to other titles on the list but our resources including the full page by page vocabulary list and the complete summary mean that you don't necessarily have to cover every word in class.   

The interest of the work
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Joseph Joffo decided to write this engaging story of  his wartime experiences as his children were growing up inorder to make them aware of the dangers they could conceivably face at some time in the future.  Looking over the shoulder of his young self, Jo, and brother Maurice the author combines engaging, amusing sequences of dialogue between the boys demonstrating their innoncent view of occurences with comment from the point of view of the wiser adult.

We share with Jo and Maurice the period in history between the imposition of the yellow star and the liberation.  Through the boys' experience we learn how a range of colourful people feel about the defeat of France, from the old royalist the comte de V. who drives them to the station in his carriage to a rabid right winger monsieur Mancelier who unwittingly shelters Jo.  What really shines through the whole account of the period is the primal urge for survival within the family;   the Joffo family has graduated from Russian persecution to being hunted down by French collaborationists and Nazis.

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un sac de billes

 

15. Un secret

un secret

SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Reasons to study the work
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Philippe Grimbert  is a psychologist and the events related in the story are partially autobiographical.  He was encouraged to write the book when he came across the tomb of a dog belonging to the daughter of the collaborationist French leader Laval;  it occurred to him that many of the Jews who had been deported had left no trace, unlike this pet.  He wanted to ensure that this didn't happen to his own family.

The interest of the work
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Not surprising that this fascinating novel contains no dialogue:  it is written from the perspective of an adult who until his late adolescence lived a lie.   The narrator who has no name, deliberately, describes what he thinks is his family story embracing the love story of his parents who when war came took refuge in the unoccupied zone before returning to Paris to continue where they left off.   Certainly there are puzzling circumstances which populate the narrator's early life like the imaginary brother who alternately protects and torments him.

Things change when the narrator comes home after an altercation at school during the showing of a film about the horror of the concentration camps.  A family friend takes it on herself to gradually reveal the real circumstances of his parents romance and what actually happened when the family took refuge away from Paris. 

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un secret

16. Additional literature titles

These titles are variously suitable for IB, extra reading for able students before advanced study or for French native students in earlier years.

17. Le petit prince

Reasons to study this work
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Le petit prince is short, amusing and full of philosophical allusions.   More like reading poetry, it lends itself to discussing particular references such as the exotically dressed scientist who is only taken seriously when he adopts western dress.   

The interest of the novel
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A number of themes relevant to the modern world crop up as the little prince visits the neighbouring stars so as a starter for serious conversation it is an excellent tool.   The fantastical element of the writing will appeal to those with a creative bent.

Go to course

18. Le silence de la mer

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

le silence de la mer

19. Stupeur et tremblements

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

Stupeur et tremblements

20. Oscar et la dame rose

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

Oscar et la dame rose

21. Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du coran

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du coran

22. Ils partiront dans l'ivresse

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

23. La neige en deuil

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

La neige en deuil

24. La symphonie pastorale

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

La symphonie pastorale

25. L'avare

Reasons to study this work
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The interest of the novel
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Go to course

L'avare