French Literature

French Literature
  • French authors
  • Literature in the Middle Ages
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Classicist Literature
  • Rationalist Literature
  • 19th century Literature
  • 20th century Literature

Renaissance Literature in France

In Italy the Renaissance had already begun, but in France it was only at the beginning of the 16th century that its influence began taking hold. French writers of the period began to replace theological themes typical of medieval times with themes focusing on humanism, in which life and learning is centred more on man than on God.

The city of Lyon was the main centre for printed books in France at the time, and thus Italian Renaissance influences reached this city first. Some of the most prominent poets of this city included Maurice Scève and successful female writers such as Lousie Labé and Queen Margaret of Navarre. In Paris, the two main tendencies coexisted, with the new Renaissance emerging alongside the medieval legacy that continued persisting as time went by. With the birth of the Reformation and Calvinism, French literature underwent more changes as this Protestant movement influenced many writers, such as François Rabelais.

The French Renaissance reached its peak in the mid-16th century, a time during which prominent poets and writers included La Pléiade, Joachim Du Bellay and Pierre de Ronsard. Other notable poets included Théodore Agrippa d’Aubigné and Jean de Sponde, who incorporated tragedy and anguish into their works, trying to reflect the tumultuous times of religious war between Catholics and Protestants. Michel de Montaigne was a well known essayist, broaching a whole range of topics form the humanist viewpoint.