Art And Culture

Anthology of French Novellas in Persian

Anthology of French Novellas in PersianAnthology of French Novellas in Persian

Veteran literary translator Qasem Son’avi, 78, has brought out a large collection of short stories by French writers.

‘Dinner Under the Chestnut Trees and Other Stories from French Writers’ is a two-volume anthology, with the stories selected and translated by Son’avi and published by Tehran-based Doostan Publications, IBNA reported.

Son’avi explains on the back cover of the volumes that “French short stories rose to eminence when Margaret of Navarre (1492-1549), princess of France and Queen of Navarre wrote or, as some believe, compiled a classic collection of short stories called Heptameron.

Heptameron is a collection of 72 short stories written in French. It is full of bold discourses and expressions that shocked conservative literati of the time.

Two years after the posthumous publication of Heptameron, a selection of stories by Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) were translated into French and published.

 19th Century

Cervantes’ works had an impact on French story writing, but French short stories flourished only in the 19th century. Stendhal (1783-1842), Honore de Balzac (1799-1850), Emile Zola (1840-1902), George Sand (1804-1876), Theophile Gautier (1811-1872) and many others could not resist the temptation.

Even Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), who is more appreciated for his poems and plays than his novels, wrote a number of short stories.

But all by himself, French master of short story Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) wrote a total of 18 collections of short stories and represented the naturalist school of writers, depicting human lives, destinies and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms.

French short stories in the 19th century applied two apparently contradictory traits: realism and fantasy. They nearly covered every subject matter and used every style of language.

It was in the 19th century that short story was discussed as a genre for the first time, and the most credible theories on short story were introduced.

The genre became so trendy that even French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), who was among the pioneers of symbolism, tried writing short stories.

The short stories written in the 19th century are usually known for their concentrated plots, limited characters and unexpected endings.

  20th Century

In the 20th century, when various artistic movements were unveiled, short stories did not remain untouched by the surge of literary developments. The 20th century writers who turned to short story are too numerous to be mentioned. Some wrote nothing but short stories.

Among the notable writers are Andre Maurois (1885-1967), Michael Arlen (1895-1956), Daniel Boulanger (1922-2014) and Georges Arnaud (1917-1987).

Of course, contributions of philosopher authors Albert Camus (1913-1960) a pioneer of absurdism and Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980), winner of Nobel Prize in Literature, 1964, should also be mentioned.

In Dinner Under the Chestnut Trees and Other Stories from French Writers, Son’avi has put together the various works of some writers mentioned above but “not all the stories are at the same literary level,” he says.

The two volumes are in 1,194 pages, and “the collection does not include all French novella writers,” he adds.

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