This edited volume gathers together studies examining various aspects of physical culture in literature written in French from Europe and around the Francophone world. We define “physical culture” as the systematic care for and development of the physique, and interpret it to include not only sport in the modern sense, but also all the athletic activities that preceded it or relate to it, such as bodily forms of exercise, leisure, and artistic creation. Our essays pursue diverse interpretive approaches and focus on texts from a wide variety of periods (medieval to the present) and genres (short stories, novels, essays, poetry) in order to consider the fundamental—yet highly neglected—place of physical activities in literature and culture from the French-speaking world.
Some of the questions the essays explore include: Does the genre “sports literature” exist in French, and if so, what are its characteristics? How do governments or other political entities mobilize sports literature? What role do narratives about sports—especially the creation of teams—play in the construction of national, regional and/or local identities? How is physical culture used in literary works for pedagogical or ideological purposes? To what extent do sports performances provide a metaphorical and figurative discourse for discussing literature and culture?
“This work makes a valuable contribution to the study of the history and cultural representation of French sport by bringing together chapters on a variety of sports and literary forms that interrogate the relationship between sport and literature.”
Jonathan Ervine, Bangor University