War and peace – Léon Tolstoï

War and Peace (pre-reform Russian: Война́ и миръ; post-reform Russian: Война́ и мир, translit. Voyná i mir [vɐjˈna i ˈmʲir]) is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, which is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy’s finest literary achievements.

The novel chronicles the history of the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families. Portions of an earlier version, titled The Year 1805,[4] were serialized in The Russian Messenger from 1865 to 1867. The novel was first published in its entirety in 1869.

Tolstoy said War and Peace is “not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle”. Large sections, especially the later chapters, are a philosophical discussion rather than narrative. Tolstoy also said that the best Russian literature does not conform to standards and hence hesitated to call War and Peace a novel. Instead, he regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “no single English novel attains the universality of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

Mémoires de guerre – Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle describes in this work the epic of Free France during the Second World War and describes its course with great care. He adds, in support of his remarks, numerous documents in the appendix (not in the work as Winston Churchill did in The Second World War ), such as maps, telegrams, letters, transpositions Speeches or interviews. He stands as a defender of traditional French values, a patriot struggling for the greatness of his country, and the first sentences of these Memoirs already reflect his national pride and his vision of France:

“All my life, I have a certain idea of ​​France. Feeling inspires me as well as reason. What is within me, of emotion, naturally imagines France, such as the princess of fairy tales or the Madonna in the frescoes of the walls, as destined for an eminent and exceptional destiny. I have instinctively the impression that Providence has created it for successes or exemplary misfortunes. If it happens that mediocrity marks, nevertheless, its acts and gestures, I feel the sensation of an absurd anomaly, attributable to the faults of the French, not to the genius of the country. But also, the positive side of my mind convinces me that France is really only in the first rank; That vast enterprises alone are capable of compensating for the ferments of dispersion which his people bear within themselves; That our country, as it is, among the others, as they are, must, under pain of mortal danger, aim high and stand upright. In short, in my opinion, France can not be France without grandeur.

Written during his crossing of the desert, between his resignation from the government And his recall in 1958, the Memoirs of War allow Charles de Gaulle to clarify the historical facts associated with the struggle for the liberation of France.

Les Maia – José-Maria Eça de Queiros

Jorge Luis Borges considérait Eça de Queiroz comme «un des plus grands écrivains de tous les temps» : Les Maia, paru en 1888, est indubitablement son chef-d’œuvre. Il appartient au genre des romans «cycliques» où l’on suit le destin non seulement d’une personne, mais d’une famille, précédant ainsi Les Buddenbrooks de Thomas Mann et la Forsyte Saga de Galworthy.

Le nœud de l’action est une sulfureuse histoire d’amour dans le goût romantique, mais le grand intérêt du récit est ailleurs : dans la peinture d’une société bourgeoise décadente; dans l’évocation de la ville de Lisbonne qu’arpente le héros, Carlos de Maia, de la rue des «Janelas Verdes» jusqu’au Chiado; enfin dans le personnage d’Ega, type du Portugais cultivé, hyperconscient, cosmopolite, enclin à dénigrer son pays auquel il est profondément attaché – comme Eça lui-même.

À la fois histoire d’une passion fatale, peinture de mœurs objective et virulente satire, ce livre, dont le rythme rappelle les romans anglais par son style à la fois lumineux, attendri et ironique, a immortalisé Lisbonne dans la littérature.

The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable is a book by the essayist, scholar, philosopher, and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It was released on April 17, 2007 by Random House. The book focuses on the extreme impact of certain kinds of rare and unpredictable events (outliers) and humans’ tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events retrospectively. This theory has since become known as the black swan theory.

The book also covers subjects relating to knowledge, aesthetics, and ways of life, and uses elements of fiction in making its points. The author frequently shares anecdotes from his own life to elaborate his theories.

The book’s first edition appeared in 2007 and was a commercial success. It spent 36 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The second, expanded edition appeared in 2010. The book is part of Taleb’s four volume philosophical essay on uncertainty, titled the Incerto  and covers the following books: Antifragile (2012), The Black Swan (2007–2010), Fooled by Randomness (2001) and The Bed of Procrustes (2010-2016).

La Confusion des sentiments – Stefan Zweig

Confusion (German:Verwirrung der Gefühle), also known under the literal translation Confusion of Feelings, and as Episode in the Early Life of Privy Councillor D. is a 1927 novella by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. It tells the story of a student and his friendship with a professor. It was originally published in the omnibus volume Conflicts: Three Tales, together with two other Zweig novellas, Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman and Untergang eines Herzens. It was included on Le Monde‘s 100 Books of the Century

Anna Karénine – Léon Tolstoï

Anna Karénine (en russe Анна Каренина) est un roman de Léon Tolstoï paru en 1877 en feuilleton dans Le Messager russe. Il est considéré comme un chef-d’œuvre de la littérature. L’auteur y oppose le calme bonheur d’un ménage honnête formé par Lévine et Kitty Stcherbatskï aux humiliations et aux déboires qui accompagnent la passion coupable d’Alexis Vronski et d’Anna Karénine ; les premiers brouillons étaient d’ailleurs intitulés Deux mariages, deux couples1.

Paru en France pour la première fois en 18852, Anna Karénine marque l’entrée triomphale de la littérature russe dans la culture européenne3.