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Challenge: Are you as well read as a French high school student?

It certainly doesn't make for light reading.

In fact, the recommended summer reading list handed to school students aged 15 about to start at the illustrious Henri IV school in the 5th arrondissement of the French capital is almost a tome in itself.

"It is more than desirable for the student who arrives in high school at Henri IV to have a small cultural background, especially in literature," the school management tells its students.

Sorted into literary periods, the list is a collection of classic works made up of French literary legends such as Zola and Victor Hugo to foreign writers including George Orwell, Edgar Allen Poe and Mark Twain.


Photo: Depositphotos

It also encompasses works from the Middle Ages right through to the 20th century and a mixture of poems, plays, novels and novellas.

And while it might look pretty demanding to the average reader, the school is also keen to promote it's message the reading should be a pleasure.

With a total of more than 60 works of literature on the list, students dedicated enough to attempt the challenge would have to read more than a book a day throughout their summer break.

So, why not challenge yourself to some serious summer reading in the style of a French high school student?

Here's a selection of the books on the list:

Middle Age, 16th and 17th centuries

Yvain, the Knight of the Lion and Perceval, the Story of the Grail by Chrétien de Troyes

Le Cid and Horace by Pierre Corneille

The Fables of Jean de La Fontaine

The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette

Macron with a bust of French author and philosoper Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire. Photo: AFP

18th century

The Barber of Seville by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

Slave Island, a one-act comedy by Pierre de Marivaux

Zadig and Micromégas by Voltaire

19th century

Colonel Chabert, Ferragus: Chief of the Devorants, Eugénie Grandet, The Unknown Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac

Happiness in Crime by Barbey dAurevilly

Sophie's Misfortunes by Comtesse de Ségur

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

20th century

Le grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier

Antigone by Jean Anouilh

The Ice People by René Barjavel

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir

French author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. Photo: AFP

Foreign works

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Animal Farm by George Orwell

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