From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
French (français, is a Romance language spoken originally in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, and today by about 300 million people around the world as a mother tongue or second language, with significant populations in 54 countries.
French was the most important language of diplomacy and international relations from the 17th century to approximately the middle of the 20th century. English has now taken over that role, following the Second World War as the US became the dominant global power.
French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France. For literature written in French by citizens of other Francophone nations see Francophone literature.
During the 20th century, France was more permissive than other countries in terms of censorship, and many important foreign language novels were originally published in France while being banned in America: Joyce's Ulysses (published by Sylvia Beach in Paris, 1922), Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (both published by Olympia Press), and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (published by Obelisk Press). Additionally, Paris has been the home-in-exile to two American literary movements: the lost generation and the beat generation.