French literature is absolutely homogeneous. Originally they were not written, but recited. Its history is closely linked to the state of French politics, ideology, and culture, often reflecting and shaping these realities in France. Some of the said qualities are already distinctly visible in the earliest French works which have come down to us today. French authors, back then, were the wandering minstrels, who found, in the crowds collected together at the great fairs and places of pilgrimage of those early days, an audience for long narratives of romance and adventure drawn from the Latin chronicles and the monkish traditions of a still more remote past. As an example, the earliest, the most famous, and the finest, the “Chanson de Roland”, which recounts the mythical incidents of a battle between Charlemagne, with all his peerage and the hosts of the Saracens. Apart from some touches of the marvellous, the whole atmosphere of the work is that of eleventh- century France, with its aristocratic society, its barbaric vigour, its brutality, and its high sentiments of piety and honour.
Most classic French literature were aristocratic. They were concerned with the life and ideals–the martial prowess, the chivalric devotion, and the soaring honour of the great nobles of the age. That is because French language has often been perceived in both French literature and critical study as being instrumental in creating the order and hierarchy of society. The political and social dimensions of the French literary canon, therefore, are central to the study of modern French literature.
French, there is not a certain obviousness in the belief that intimacy, with a literature characterized by logic and finish, will tend to develop one’s quality. French Literature, based on Churchman (1917), a French writer, is the product of a race whose very school-French-boys can write superlatively well, either instinct or by spiritual contagion; if it be the latter, there is no good reason why French boys may not be exposed to the same influence. Reading the masterpieces in French is of course essential to an appreciation of their greatness; it is essential that all remarks made about them are all original. French literature, as he said, tends to cultivate in man a spiritual inspiration, an ethical enthusiasm, a clarity of thought, and a finish of form that he may miss in other fields of study. Secondly, while English literature is probably best-fitted of all literatures which we may call the spiritual and the ethical inspiration, and while we should encourage among our youth the choice of this better part, we should add to our virtue knowledge, and seek to gain from the masters of French literature that exquisite finish of form and that keen attention to logical processes in which they are so abundantly fitted to be our guides.
This hasty review of the contribution of France to the world’s literature has been made in order that we may be able again to take account of stock, and to emphasize the influence and continuous excellence of this literature. Turning now from the excellence, we may consider these particular kind of literature and these peculiar characteristics, which make the literature especially worthwhile, a great influence. French writers have consistently used their work to expostulate political and philosophical ideology, and thus, the relationship between literature and social and political attitudes has been acutely important in French society. Many scholars of French literature have remarked on the importance the French place on literary figures in their society.