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Old 12-19-2009, 05:16 PM   #1
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French short story collections?

I am looking for some recs for good French short story collections for a non-native speaker. I finally found a set-up that works for me for dictionary access when I read (basically 'ebook reader while sitting in front of laptop open to Google Translator) and it is my goal to read more in French. My spoken French is pretty good for a non-native, but my reading is weaker and I want to improve it.

I find short stories a little easier because you go in sections and 'finish' something a little sooner. I have progressed (in interests, anyway) beyond kiddie books, and I would prefer something that isn't positively ancient with archaic verb constructions and lots of passe simple if such a thing exists. What I would like is the French equivalent of those numerous short story anthologies on Project Gutenberg with titles like 'Best Ghost Stories' and 'Best American Humorous Short Stories.' In English, there are dozens from different countries (Best Russian Stories, Best American Stories etc.) or years (Best Stories of 1921, Best Stories of 1922 etc.) and themes. If there was such a trove in French, it would be perfect.

So...ideas?
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:45 AM   #2
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Hi Ficbot,

When I was at about the level you are describing, I read French Stories / Contes Français, which is great because it has the French and the English side-by-side. The stories are all by major French authors -- you will find some passe simple, but it's not too overbearing.

Also, Candide by Voltaire is a great book to read at this level because the chapters are short and it is also funny, which makes it less work to get through. Again, you will find some pass simple -- it's tough to find literary writing without this tense as it is still used regularly for this type of writing -- but it's not overbearing. I remember how intimidating the passe simple was when I was learning French, so you are not alone in wanting to avoid it. Even a lot of native French speakers like to avoid it as much as they can! Wikipedia actually has a great and succinct summary of the passe simple which you might find helpful (and not too intimidating).

If you'd like to take a break from the passe simple and do some reading that doesn't have it, French newspapers are a great place to go -- two are Le Monde , France-Amerique.

Good luck! Bon courage!
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:43 AM   #3
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Thank you!
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:55 AM   #4
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Try getting a copy of short stories by Guy de Maupassant. They are interesting stories, and I don't recall them being too difficult. As a bonus, you can download them from
http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/m#a306
as they are public domain books, and download a translation as well in case you have any problems understanding something. I also second the Candide recommendation, great book, easy to read, and you will pick up some new vocab along the way. If I think of anything else later I'll post it up here. Best of luck.
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:44 AM   #5
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You also could try les lettres de mon moulin, by Alphonse Daudet (I think they fell into public domain). These are for kids, mostly, but that means that the sentences are quite simple, for foreigners.
And, although it is not a short story but a short novel, there is le petit prince, by Antoine de St Exupery, which is written like a kid novel, but studied by teenagers and young adults for its philosophy (although that never was my favorite subject).
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Old 12-23-2009, 11:44 PM   #6
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2d the Motion

I second the motion on Guy De Maupassant. I can't say exactly why, except for a feeling I get at the end of each story that I have just encountered a work of art.
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