France honours its most provocative author 

Michel Houellebecq, the enfant terrible of French literature, was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest civilian distinction, in the New Year honours list on Tuesday.

A forthcoming novel by the celebrated but controversial author predicts the doom of western civilisation. Seratonin, due out on Friday, focuses on the festering rage in provincial France that has exploded into the “yellow vest” protests.

Like his previous books, it is set to become an instant bestseller and is already being hailed as the biggest literary event of 2019. It is also likely to enrage those who object to the views that have made Houellebecq, 62, an iconic figure for the nationalist, eurosceptic Right.

The title of the novel, to appear in English in the autumn, refers to the main ingredient of an anti-depressant that causes its anti-hero, Florent-Claude Labrouste, to suffer impotence and nausea. Like most of Houellebecq’s protagonists, he is a thinly disguised version of the author himself.

At 46, fed up with his Japanese girlfriend and his job, Labrouste returns to his native Normandy, where he meets suicidal farmers, prevented from making ends meet by EU dairy quotas. Out of despair and fury, they take to the streets and stop traffic in “yellow vest” style.

Houellebecq’s bleak view of France and Europe is much in evidence. “No one in the West will ever be happy again,” he writes. “This is how a civilisation dies, without danger or drama and with very little carnage.” [ . . . ]

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Victor Hugo à gros traits

From September 13, 2018 to January 6, 2019, the Maison Victor Hugo presents an exhibition an exhibition around the public image of Victor Hugo through the style of caricature. The poet’s fame and political commitment made him a favorite subject of the caricaturists of his time who often sketched him rather roughly and sometimes even ferociously. Among these renowned designers, it will be possible to find prestigious signatures such as Daumier, Doré, Cham, Gill, Lepetit, Nadar  [ … ]

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Colette was one of world’s first ‘liberated’ women…

Head of the Centre d’études Colette tells Samantha David why 21st-century women still need irrepressible and provocative role models like the writer, more than 60 years after she died, to show that anything is possible

More than 60 years after her death, Colette (1873-1954) remains one of France’s most famous female writers, a source of fascination and joy.

Her books, many of which borrowed generously from her own life, are still popular, while a biopic of her life, ‘Colette’ starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West, had its premiere at the Sundance Festival – and has been slated for a limited release in the US in September 2018, before reaching Europe in early 2019.

Born in the provincial backwater of Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye (Yonne, Bourgogne) Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette received a remarkably thorough education for a young woman of that era, going to school from the age of six until she was 17.

Colette, her sister and two brothers enjoyed a tranquil, happy childhood; her mother, fiercely feminist and atheist, adored her and taught her literature, while her father taught her the basics of journalism.

Her parents had been quite well off but their fortunes dwindled and by 1891 the family had to move out of their comfortable home into a smaller house in Châtillon-sur-Loing, where Colette met notorious libertine Henry Gauthier-Villars – commonly known as ‘Willy’. [ . . . ]

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6 Operas Based on the Works of Alexandre Dumas-Père

Alexandre Dumas, père, is one of the most famous writers in the history of French literature. Some of his works, notably, “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Montecristo” have even transcended his homeland to become fixtures of the international literary canon.Shockingly, it is his son who is better known in the opera world thanks in part to a little-known opera known as “La Traviata,” which is based on Alexandre Dumas-fils’ “La Dame aux Camelias [ . . . ]

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