French Literature Throughout the period, literature was shaped by specific historical traditions and a firmly circumscribed code of priorities, ecclesiastical and secular. The dominance of the Church ensured that literary expression was informed by a strong didactic spirit, while feudalism provided a common, if loose, framework of values until it was challenged in the thirteenth century by the growth of towns and a less courtly and more bourgeois public.

Just as the modern labels France and French are unhelpful when applied to the Middle Ages, so the word literature needs considerable qualification. The earliest vernacular texts were clearly marked by a strong oral tradition. But by the twelfth century most works were intended to be read and by the thirteenth century literacy rates had risen further with the emergence of a new middle class of merchants, lawyers and civil servants. Though the existence of a tripartite social hierarchy (clergy, aristocracy and the rest) might suggest separate literary constituencies, the notion of a ‘public’ for literature is difficult to define. About 40 per cent of chansons de geste begin with variants of ‘Oiez, seignor’, which seems to imply a noble audience, yet they often proceed to explain basic chivalric rules as for the benefit and instruction of less exalted listeners. After 1200, romances in verse and prose were read rather than heard and the fabliaux appealed not only to the bourgeois and popular milieus in which they were set, but also to higher social ranks. Lyric poetry, at first associated with the aristocratic courts of Languedoc, acquired a more bourgeois following when it was taken up in the thirteenth century by northern confrries and towns which organized poetry competitions and staged plays.

Literary French

French Poems

French poems are the most beautiful and wonderful part of French literature, the French poetic heritage is one of the great richness and can boast of many unique contributions to world literature. Moreover, in the 13th century, in the crucial 16th century, in the 19th and 20th century, the influence of French poets on their counterparts in England has been decisive. The poetic tradition of France is wonderful, many great poets such as Villon, Ronsard, Voltaire, Lamartine, Hugo, Mallarm, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Apollinaire, Saint-John Perse, Eluard and many more were French. As one sees, French poems represent a wonderful cultural legacy, so one can learn the in order to improve one’s French language skills.

French Poems

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