Take a French Literature Quiz in Honor of Bastille Day


Bastille Day, aka La Fête Nationale, is today, so we’re celebrating with a pop quiz on French writers and literature. Don’t worry if you’re a little rusty on the subject– the answers are all at the bottom, so you can scroll down to check, or to cheat. (We won’t judge you if you’re stumped and take a peek early on in the game.) There are two bonus questions at the end about Bastille Day. If you get these wrong, we’re sending you to detention at the Alliance Française, where you could potentially be shamed by someone wearing a striped shirt and very fancy shoes.

1. What newspaper featured Émile Zola’s open letter to the French President with the headline “J’accuse…!”?

2. What novel by Jules Verne was finally published in 1994, after being hidden in a safe for decades?

3. What was the crime committed by Julien Sorel, the main character in Stendhal’s novel, Le Rouge et le Noir?

4. What were the names of Emma Bovary’s lovers in Gustav Flaubert’s masterpiece, Madame Bovary?

5. How many volumes are contained in Marcel Proust’s novel, In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu)?

6. What was the title of Proust’s unfinished novel (which contains a number of similar scenes featured in À la recherche du temps perdu)?

7. What was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin’s pen name?

8. What was the title of Claire de Duras’s 1823 novel about racial and sexual equality?

9. Where is Victor Hugo buried?

10. What author collaborated with Alexandre Dumas on The Count of Monte Cristo andThe Three Musketeers?

Bonus questions:

1. When was the Bastille stormed?

2. What exactly was the Bastille, anyway?


1. L’Aurore

2. Paris in the 20th Century

3. Attempted murder

4. Léon Dupuis and Rodolphe Boulanger

5. Seven

6. Jean Santeuil

7. Molière

8. Ourika

9. The Panthéon

10. Auguste Maquet

Bonus Answers:

1. 14 July 1789

2. Number 232, Rue Saint-Antoine housed the Bastille, which was a fortress that later served as a prison. It housed common criminals, religious outlaws, and pamphleteers who printed forbidden materials, as well as a number of wealthy people who had somehow run afoul of the law.