Pour le Sport

BookPour le Sport

Pour le Sport

Physical Culture in French and Francophone Literature


December 1st, 2021





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


Author Information

Roxanna Curto is an Associate Professor of French and Spanish at the University of Iowa. Rebecca Wines is an Associate Professor of French and Co-Chair of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Cornell College.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Roxanna Curto and Rebecca Wines
Part I : Physical Activities and Games prior to the Twentieth Century
Chapter 1: Avatars of Sport in Medieval and Early-Modern French Literature
John McClelland
Chapter 2: Are Mountaineers Romantics?: The Art of Viewing and Climbing in 19th-Century France
Pierre-Olaf Schut
Chapter 3: ‘Tennis Killed Me’: Sport as Failed Ritual in the Works of Prosper Mérimée
Corry Cropper
Part II: The Tour de France
Chapter 4: Henri Desgrange, Cycling, and Modern Masculinities
Rebecca Wines
Chapter 5: Barthes, Blondin and the Tour de France of the Trente Glorieuses
Ruadhán Cooke
Part III: The Stylistics of Running and Writing
Chapter 6: Dominique Braga’s Literary Stride
Thomas Bauer
Chapter 7: Communism, Bio-Fiction and the Olympics in Jean Echenoz’s Courir
Roxanna Curto
Part IV: Football Cultures
Chapter 8: ‘She has a great shot!’: Representations of Sport and Gender in the French Book Series Le Petit Nicolas
Cynthia Laborde
Chapter 9: Kourat el Kadem: Soccer Culture in Postcolonial Francophone Algerian Texts
Christa Jones
Chapter 10: ‘The Gaze Always Finds Zidane’: Aesthetics and Overdetermination in Toussaint, Delbée and Gordon and Parreno
Luke Healey
Chapter 11: Reassessing Voivenel’s Mon Beau Rugby
Keith Rathbone
Chapter 12: Corporeal Conceptions: Body Politics, French Republicanism and Sport in Banlieue Literature
Marshall L. Smith
Chapter 13: Fighting as a Trope for Flight from Conflict: Combat Sports in Le débrouillard (N.G.M. Faye) and L’appel des arènes (Aminata Sow Fall)
Christopher Hogarth
About the Contributors