This book traces the history of French literature from its beginnings to the present. Within its remarkably brief compass, it offers a wide-ranging, personal, and detailed--though selective--account of major writers and movements. Developments in French literature are presented in an innovative way, not as an even sequence of literary events but as a series of stories told at varying pace and with different kinds of focus. Readers can thus take in the broad sweep of historical change, grasp the main characteristics of major periods, or enjoy a close appraisal of individual works and their contexts. The book is written in an accessible and non-technical style that will make it attractive both to students of French and to non-specialist readers.