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Classics of French Literature

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Hugo, Zola, Mirbeau... Just a few authors that marked the history of literature and are still read today. We will examine how key figures in French literature helped redefine the concept of narrative, creating characters and situations still relevant to the modern reader. Not only is there no need to be afraid of classics; sometimes they can even be fun.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No prior knowledge required.

Content of Course

1. Introduction

2. Victor Hugo - Notre-Dame de Paris 1

3. Victor Hugo - Notre-Dame de Paris 2

4. Prosper Merimee - Colomba

5. Emile Zola - Nana 1

6. Emile Zola - Nana 2

7. Guy de Maupassant - Bel-Ami 1

8. Guy de Maupassant - Bel-Ami 2

9. Octave Mirbeau - The Diary of a Chambermaid 1

10. Octave Mirbeau - The Diary of a Chambermaid 2

Teaching method(s)

Discussion based classes, with a short introductory lecture each week.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Engage critically with fictional texts;

  • Describe and analyse themes and techniques;

  • Demonstrate a good general understanding of the development of French literature, from the seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century;

  • Discuss the social, political and cultural context in which the texts were created.


Core Readings

The edition shown is the one currently in print. Students may use any other edition.


  • Hugo, V. (1978). Notre-Dame de Paris. London: Penguin Books

  • Merimee, P. (2008). Carmen and Other Stories. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics

  • Zola, E. (2009). Nana. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics

  • Maupassant, Guy de (2008). Bel-Ami. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics

  • Mirbeau, O. (2016). The Diary of a Chambermaid. Sawtry: Dedalus

Web Sources

This website provides free translations of Classics, including many texts on the reading list.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.