Penguin publishes “a major new celebration of the French short story”, edited and introduced by St Anne’s Fellow, Professor Patrick McGuinness

The Penguin Book of French Short Stories, in two volumes, was published on 27th October, edited and with an introduction by St Anne’s Fellow, Professor Patrick McGuinness.

Patrick is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Oxford and the Sir Win and Lady Bischoff Fellow in French at St Anne’s. Born in Tunisia and raised in Belgium, he is a poet, prize-winning novelist and translator.

About the new volumes, publishers Penguin note: “The short story has a rich tradition in French literature where, since its genesis, the form has been playfully expanded and subverted. Here are decadent tales, ‘bloody tales’, detective stories, war stories, fables, puzzles, fairy tales, and family histories. They are stories about the self and the other, husbands, wives and lovers, country and city, rich and poor.

The first volume spans four hundred years, taking the reader from the sixteenth century to the ‘golden age’ of the fin de siècle. Its pages are populated by lovers, phantoms, cardinals, labourers, enchanted statues, gentleman burglars, retired bureaucrats, panthers and parrots, in a cacophony of styles and voices. From the affairs of Madame de Lafayette to the polemic realism of Victor Hugo, the supernatural mystery of Guy de Maupassant to the dark sensuality of Rachilde, this is the place to start for lovers of French literature, new and old.

The second volume takes the reader through the tumultuous twentieth century in the company of writers including Simone de Beauvoir and Maryse Condé, Patrick Modiano and Virginie Despentes, covering world wars, revolutions, and the horrors of the motorway service station. Along the way we meet electronic brains, she-wolves, a sadistic Cinderella, ancestors, infidels, dissatisfied housewives and lonely ambassadors, all clamouring to be heard. The vast Francophone world is in conversation here, reckoning with its political past and future.”

The book is now available for purchase.