Greatest French novelist

That’s a perfectly valid point. Actually, I was sure that someone would complain if I didn’t include him. And I think he has a place in this poll anyway, for the reason you mention.

That’s true but only for some of his works. If someone buys, say, Une Vie or Bel-Ami expecting eldritch horrors, they’ll be sorely disappointed :D.

And then wrote a “sequel” in which it’s the only vowel used (Les Revenentes - yes, with an intentional typo).

La Vie mode d’emploi (Life a User’s Manual) is his masterpiece and I consider it a towering achievement of 20th century (French) literature. I cannot think of any other book that is both so complex in its structure (Perec followed a mad set of rules and constraints to write it) and so entertaining, downright hilarious sometimes. One of the best, most memorable books I’ve ever read.

I don’t know anything about Martin but from what I’ve read about Dumas’ later work, I think James Michener would be more accurate.

My impression is that Michener and Dumas are both pretty prolix, but I’ve never heard that Michener writes beautiful prose, or that he’s got wise meditations on the human condition. Am I wrong about him?

Interesting note about Monte Cristo, from Wikipedia:

Whether or not Dumas is the best French writer, isn’t there a pretty decent case that he’s the French author most influential on world culture? Is he the French author whose stories are best known across the world?

Obligatory Groundhog Day scene:

True. But the same case could legitimately be made for Verne.

I wrote my senior thesis on Huysmans, but my vote is for Flaubert. Balzac in second place.

I’m taking Gargantua and Pantagruel on vacation with me, so I’ll get back to you on whether I think Rabelais is better.

Very true, although Tales of the South Pacific is worth reading. I was actually thinking more that both Dumas and Michener had a lot of “help” writing their later novels. In Michener’s case, it might have been just research but I thought I read that he provided an outline and someone else did the actual writing. Muuuuch too lazy to google this however.

I voted for Louis-Ferdinand Celine because he is among world’s best writers. (The French culture boasts many great writers and it is impossible to pick the best.) People tend to avoid Celine due to his racist views, but his “Journey to the End of the Night” is a gem no one should miss.

No contest. Hugo.

I wish you had voted for Huysmans so that he wouldn’t sit there with zero vote. He deserves more recognition. By the way, what was your thesis about specifically?

I’m voting for Flaubert. Hugo is going to win the poll but I like the idea of having him ahead of Proust and Camus.

I can’t judge whether the credit belongs to Balzac or his translator, but I voted for Balzac for his powers of description. His ability to bring a decrepit boarding house or a cold, dreary mansion to life was amazing.

Not in the list, and may not qualify as a novelist: La Roche Focould.

Yesterday, I found a collection of the four “Durtal” novels by Huysmans in bookshop: Là-Bas, En Route, La Cathédrale and L’Oblat. These books focus on the spiritual journey of Durtal, who discovers with a mixture of horror and fascination that satanism is thriving in late 19th century Paris in the first book, to his eventual conversion to Catholicism in the last one. This pretty much mirrors the experience of Huysmans himself.

I don’t know whether the author intended the novels to be read in sequence but it makes sense to have them all together. This particular collection was long unavailable but what I found yesterday looks like a very recent reprint. Good news.

It’s a bit pricey but I’ll probably find a good excuse to buy it (my birthday’s coming up in a couple of months :D).

I just wanna say that all Hugo fans should read the unabridged translations! None of this “edited for readability” crap.