French books without passé simple etc?

I’m really enjoying things such as L’etranger on here at the moment. I like them because they are told in the first person and therefore don’t use a tonne of passé simple or literary writing but still tell a fantastic story.

Similarly, Les trois mousquetaires is boring me to tears because the language seems so archaic.

Can anyone recommend any books, of any level, which mainly use the ‘spoken’ tenses rather than the literary ones? Or books with lots of dialogue?


La vie devant soi

Voyage au bout de la nuit

L’écume des jours


Try to focus on books written in the 20th century.

La vie devant soi and Voyage au bout de la nuit are truly great books.
Also, if you like L’Etranger, you must read La Peste by the same author.

Thank you for the suggestions. Any more are welcome!

“Zazie dans le métro”? Ça fait longtemps que je l’ai lu, mais j’ai bien aimé et c’est écrit en “néo-français”, alors je ne crois pas qu’il y ait beaucoup de formes littéraires. Par contre, il faut s’habituer à l’argot et à l’orthographe “créative”. En tout cas, je crois que c’est bien la peine de le lire.


Tu sais peut-être des auteurs qui écrire en ‘parlé’ français?

If you read books with a lot of dialog, you will get exposed to various different tenses during the read, since characters themselves don’t use passe simple. Passe sample itself used to throw me off, but once you get used to it being relegated to the narration itself, it just becomes another part of the language, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

But i don’t like to read passé simple, it makes the content boring to me. I can recognise and understand it when it’s being used, but i don’t like material that contains it.

Le petit Nicolas (René Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempé) is written in the spoken tenses only, no passé simple.

Can you supply the author’s names? I’ve found multiple books when searching for each of these titles.

La vie devant soi - Romain Gary

Voyage au bout de la nuit - Louis-Ferdinand Céline

L’écume des jours - Boris Vian

I love L’Ecume des jours, it’s very poetic, a bit strange too. I don’t know whether everybody would like its tone but I find it just great.

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Super, I love poetic and strange! I’ll start with that one!

When you’ve finished it let me know what you thought about it!

For what it’s worth, French is not the only language that uses a rarely spoken verb tense for written narrative. Other languages do similar things. In all cases this is part of the intricacies of that particular language. All French books I’ve ever read have used passé simple, from classics to modern day thrillers. I’ve grown to enjoy it as part of the way this particular language communicates.

I just don’t like it. I don’t like the way the words look as stupid as that sounds. I don’t like the odd conjugations compared to the spoken tenses.

Obviously all books probably have a couple of words of passé simple but there are plenty of books that have very very few words of that tense in them.

I think it boils down to my interest though. In English, i prefer reading mainly non-fiction or simply written fiction with good plot lines (like Palahniuk).

To me, i listen and read in French with a view to eventually being able to speak it. And learning to comprehend real life French is much more important to me than being able to read literary French so passé simple is largely a waste of my time. Which is limited since my son was born!

I watched the movie last night and now I’m not so sure I want to read the book! :smiley:

I didn’t even know there was a movie. I saw the reviews and they’re not so good. I’d be curious to know how they could make a movie from that book. All its interest lies in its poesy, its metaphors, its darkening atmosphere and the fact that you try to picture all this in your head, not in the story itself.

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