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French Literature Of The 19th Century:

 De Tocqueville

 Literature Under The Empire 1852-1870




 The Rise Of Realism

 Literature Under The Republic-1870-1899



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Literature Under The Republic-1870-1899

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Giving precedence to fiction over serious literature, the extraordinary work done by Jules Verne is entitled to first notice. Beginning as a writer of comedies, he turned in 1863 to a Poe-like romance, "Cinq Semaines en Ballon" (Five Weeks in a Balloon), the start on a trail peculiarly his own. He can now point to books that average nearly one for each year of his life. This is the more wonderful because they have demanded harder and drier study in their composition than the average novel. Verne had an aptitude for the learning necessary to successful exploration, as his books on travel bear witness. Having hit on the notion of substituting achievements and possibilities of science for magical absurdities, he set to work and devised a series of modern Arabian Nights Entertainments which are worthy to rank alongside those master-works of Eastern genius. His books need not be named, they are well known to old and young, and are in no danger of being forgotten or surpassed. By the exercise of a strictly matter-of-fact wizardry, prosaic to the last degree, he compels a not unwilling credence to the wildly impossible, trading on popular faith in the potential omnipotence of science to-morrow. In a way this trick borders on the poetical without touching it, though the reader may find himself projected far into the domain of fantasy when he has closed the book. If novels of life and manners played no worse pranks with our imagination than these of Verne, there would have been much less mischief and more happiness to lay to the account of fiction.

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