It occurred to me while reading Tom's excellent and entertaining posts about Victor Hugo that I've read very little in the way of French literature. It's a whole world of books and poetry that remains outside of my experience, and I should do something to rectify that.
Of course I've read some of the French literature that stereotypical broody American self-styled "artists" all read: Camus, Sartre, Beckett (translated into English by Beckett; does Beckett count as "French" literature? No? Damn), a smattering of Montaigne, Voltaire of course, some Jules Verne, the first volume of Proust's "Lost Time" books, a bit of Verlaine, a bit of Rimbaud, a bit of Baudelaire, some Ionesco and Genet. Does Pascal count? What about Rousseau, or Diderot, or Barthes or Foucault? Oh, I read a Houellebecq novel, Atomised, last year or the year before that. Anyway, that tidy list pretty much covers my slim exposure to French writing. Not so impressive.
Where to begin if I want to get serious about this literary culture? Hugo? Stendhal? Flaubert? Zola? JMG Le Clezio? Should I finish Proust first? I have more Camus and two by Gide on my TBR stack already. God only knows what Mighty Reader has on the shelves waiting for me. So I guess I'll look around.
Why am I suddenly picking on the French? Why not?