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~ French Literature and Art ~

French Literature and Art, Part II : Realism

Online Seminars on French Art - The Sower by Millet


90 minutes


After this seminar, you'll know all there is to know about : Realism, Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, Stendhal, Chartreuse de Parme, Courbet, Daumier, Millet.

The 19th century was one of the most culturally rich, and politically intense, periods in French history. After many centuries of rethinking and reinterpreting the classical ideals of the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, artists and intellectuals from all walks of life came together to create an all-new vision for literature and art, intimately connected with the political events of the moment and the newly-emerging modern world.

Lecture 2 - Realism


Several decades after the appearance of Romanticism, and in the midst of post-Revolutionary political upheaval, the French intellectual community had become disillusioned and was searching for still newer forms of expression. Both writers and visual artists began to observe (and criticize) the societal dysfunctions in the world around them, and to reflect these injustices in their work, as a new kind of social criticism. The main representative of this current in literature is Gustave Flaubert, who exemplified this approach to perfection in his novel Madame Bovary, the tragic story of a woman with high hopes dashed by the mechanics of the social machine in which she lives. In painting, Millet and Daumier portrayed the hardships of everyday life in the farming class -- the lowest of the low in French society -- whereas Courbet chose to represent the grittier side of reality in common, everyday events in his rural hometown. An outrage on all accounts, according to the art critics of the time! But a breath of fresh air for the new generations of artists and writers, who were still looking for inspiration in their quest for the "modern" world and would use this environment as fodder for their own literary and artistic experimentation.

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