novel: The French and Russian Novels

The French and Russian Novels

Major 19th-century French writers also produced novels in the romantic and realistic traditions. Romance can be found in Alexandre Dumas's Three Musketeers (1844) and Victor Hugo's Les Misérables (1844), both of which are melodramatic and swashbuckling, terrifying and poignant. Honoré de Balzac's Human Comedy (1829–47), on the other hand, is a series of novels that offer a realistic, if cynical, panorama of life in Paris and the provinces.

Stendhal mixes realism with romance in The Red and the Black (1831) and The Charterhouse of Parma (1839). Both works are psychological studies in which characters confront reality by behaving melodramatically. Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1857) is perhaps the first novel in which the author was primarily concerned about his work as a literary form and consciously distances himself from his characters. The result is a carefully crafted study of a banal love tragedy in which the heroine, like Don Quixote, cannot reconcile her romantic dreams with ordinary reality.

In the 19th cent. Russian novelists quickly gained world reputations for their powerful statements of human and cosmic problems. If Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (1865–69) is a God-centered novel, Feodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (1866) can be considered a God-haunted one.

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