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Robert Merle and Fortunes de France: A Lecture by Rob Prince

March 31, 2017

Robert Merle

“Fortunes de France”

The Alliance Francaise de Denver is excited to host a special lecture on the work of French author, Robert Merle, and his 13 volume epic historical novel series, Fortunes de France.

Fortunes de France explores the religious wars in France that culminated in response to the crowning of Henry IV in 1594.

The lecture will be given by Rob Prince, retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

6-7:30 PM

@Alliance Francaise of Denver

Hour long lecture in French and English followed by a 30 minute question and answer.

Free for Members……..$5 for the public

Alliance Francaise of Denver – 571 Galapagos St. Denver, Colorado 80204 – www.afdenver.org – 303-831-0304

Robert Merle is the author of one of the most popular series of historical novels in modern French literature, Fortunes of France, in thirteen volumes. It details the turbulent period of French history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries characterized by religious wars, bigotry and factionalism between Catholics and Protestants through the lens of a moderate Protestant family of the lower mobility. The series is much more than that: it is also a wondrous sociological portrait of French life — both rural and urban of that time period. All thirteen volumes of the French version are being translated into English, with Volumes 1 and 2 already done by Pushkin Press, and Volume 3 about to appear in June of 2016.

The program will be presented by Rob Prince, retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. Fifty two years ago, Prince was a student of Robert Merle at the University of Rouen’s Faculte de Lettres in Mont St.Aignon, France.

About Robert Merle’s “Fortune de France”:

Kirkup called the Fortune de France series “spectacular” and dubbed it Merle’s “major achievement”.[1] Douglas Johnson of The Guardian described the author as “a master of the historical novel”.[2] The series made Merle a household name in France, and he has been repeatedly called the Alexandre Dumas of the 20th century.[4][5] Le Monde dubbed Merle “France’s greatest popular novelist”, and Le Figaro observed, “Robert Merle is one of the very few French writers who have attained both popular success and the admiration of critics.”[5]

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Allan Massie praised Merle’s “thorough research, depth of understanding and popular touch”, noting that “one of the strengths of Merle’s novels in his ability to evoke the feeling and texture of everyday life as well as high politics”.[3] Massie compared the first novel in Merle’s series to Maurice Druon‘s The Accursed Kings (Les Rois maudits), another famed French historical novel series, writing “There is a philosophical depth to the novel absent from Druon, for the Brethren are attracted to the Reformed Protestant (or Huguenot) faith … Though not as gripping as The Accursed Kings, The Brethren never strays, as Druon sometimes does, into the grotesque. It has a credibly human solidity.”[3] Toby Clements of The Telegraph wrote, “There are set-piece discussions on the dilemmas of faith that are informative if not the stuff of high drama, and passages on the history of France that can only be made sense of with the aid of a map and a memory for names. But elsewhere there is much colour, and, overall, The Brethren gives a salty and plausible idea of just how different, odd and parlous life might have been.”[4]

As of 2014, Fortune de France had sold over five million copies in France.[5]

(Source: Wikipedia)

For more information, visit Robert Prince’s blog page on Merle’s work.

 

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