The Greatest Iranian, French "Historical fiction" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Historical fiction

Historical fiction is a genre of literature that combines fictional stories with real historical events, settings, and characters. These books often take place in a specific time period and are based on research and factual information, but also include imaginative elements to create a compelling narrative. Historical fiction allows readers to experience the past in a unique and engaging way, while also providing insight into the social, cultural, and political issues of the time.

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  1. 1. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

    Set in early 19th-century France, the narrative follows the lives and interactions of several characters, particularly the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his journey towards redemption. The story touches upon the nature of law and grace, and elaborates upon the history of France, architecture of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love. It is known for its vivid and relatable characters, and its exploration of societal and moral issues.

    The 46th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Red and the Black by Stendhal

    The novel is a detailed psychological portrait of Julien Sorel, a young man from a provincial background who aspires to rise above his humble beginnings. He uses his intelligence and hypocrisy to advance in the post-Napoleonic French society, which is deeply divided by class and political loyalties. The story is a critique of the society's materialism and hypocrisy as Julien's ambitions lead him to a tragic end. The title refers to the contrasting uniforms of the army and the church, the two routes available to him for upward mobility.

    The 52nd Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    A young sailor, unjustly accused of treason, is imprisoned without trial in a grim fortress. After a daring escape, he uncovers a hidden treasure and transforms himself into the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo. He then sets out to exact revenge on those who wronged him, using his newfound power and influence. Throughout his journey, he grapples with questions about justice, vengeance, and whether ultimate power can ultimately corrupt.

    The 105th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

    Set in 17th century France, the novel follows the adventures of a young man who leaves home to join the Musketeers of the Guard. He befriends three of the most daring musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and together, they navigate political intrigue, love affairs, and duels. Their main enemies are the powerful Cardinal Richelieu and the beautiful but treacherous Milady, who will stop at nothing to bring them down.

    The 157th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal

    The novel follows the life of a young Italian nobleman, who, driven by romantic ideals and a thirst for adventure, leaves his comfortable life to join Napoleon's army. After surviving many trials and tribulations, he returns home to a life of political intrigue, love affairs, and power struggles in the court of Parma. The narrative provides a vivid and satirical depiction of the political and social life in Italy during the 19th century.

    The 243rd Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Man's Fate by Andre Malraux

    Set in 1920s Shanghai during a time of political upheaval, the novel explores the existential themes of life, death, and the human condition through the experiences of a group of revolutionaries. The narrative follows their struggles and sacrifices for their cause, the Communist revolution, and their inevitable confrontation with their own mortality and the harsh realities of life. The book delves into the complexities of political ideologies, human relationships and the constant struggle between hope and despair.

    The 250th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert

    A Sentimental Education is a classic French novel set in the mid-19th century, focusing on the life of a young man named Frederic Moreau. Frederic, from a provincial background, moves to Paris and becomes infatuated with an older woman, Madame Arnoux. The novel traces Frederic's life and romantic pursuits, as well as his friendships and experiences in Paris, against the backdrop of significant historical events like the 1848 Revolution. The story is a critique of the French middle class and their materialistic values, illustrating the disillusionment and moral corruption of the time.

    The 265th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

    "Memoirs of Hadrian" is a historical novel that presents a fictional autobiography of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 AD. Narrated in the first person, the novel explores Hadrian's ascension to the throne, his administration, his love for the young Antinous, and his philosophical reflections on life and death. The narrative is framed as a letter to his successor, Marcus Aurelius, offering insights into the complexities of power, the nature of leadership, and the human condition.

    The 310th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Germinal by Émile Zola

    The novel is a bleak and realistic portrayal of coal miners' lives in 19th century France. The protagonist, a young man who starts work in a mine, becomes embroiled in the hardship and exploitation faced by the workers, leading to his involvement in a strike. The story explores themes of poverty, social injustice, and the struggle for workers' rights, while also providing a detailed depiction of mining life, from the dangerous work conditions to the close-knit communities.

    The 352nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

    Set in 15th-century Paris, this novel follows the story of Quasimodo, a deformed and hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre-Dame Cathedral, who is shunned due to his appearance. Despite his physical deformities, Quasimodo falls in love with the beautiful gypsy girl, Esmeralda. However, his love is unrequited as she is in love with a handsome soldier. The novel explores themes of love, rejection, and the human struggle against fate and societal norms.

    The 384th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac

    "Cousin Bette" is a novel set in mid-19th century Paris, focusing on the lives of the Hulot family and their cousin, Bette, an old maid who harbors a deep resentment towards her relatives due to their wealth and social status. When Bette learns that her cousin's husband is having an affair, she decides to exact revenge by manipulating various characters and situations, leading to the downfall of the Hulot family. The novel explores themes of jealousy, revenge, and the destructive power of repressed feelings.

    The 494th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac

    "Lost Illusions" is a sweeping narrative that focuses on the life of a young, ambitious poet from the provinces who moves to Paris in hopes of making a name for himself. Over time, he becomes disillusioned with the corruption and moral decay of the city's literary and high society circles. The protagonist's journey is marked by his struggle to maintain his integrity and idealism in a world dominated by materialism and selfish interests. The novel is a critical commentary on the destructive power of unchecked ambition and the pitfalls of vanity.

    The 519th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir

    "The Mandarins" is a novel that explores the personal and political lives of a group of intellectuals in post-World War II France. The narrative delves into their struggles with ethical dilemmas, political ideologies, and personal relationships in a rapidly changing world. The book is known for its exploration of existentialism and feminism, providing a vivid portrayal of the human condition and the complexities of freedom.

    The 547th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine De Pizan

    "The Book of the City of Ladies" is a classical work in which the author, through allegorical characters, builds an imaginary city for women to illustrate their significant contributions to society. The book is a defense of women, arguing against the popular notion of the time that women were inferior to men. It showcases the author's deep knowledge of the past, referencing numerous notable women from history and mythology, emphasizing their virtues, intelligence, and moral fiber.

    The 703rd Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge

    "The Case of Comrade Tulayev" is a political novel set in the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. The story begins with the murder of a high-ranking Soviet official, Comrade Tulayev, which sets off a series of events leading to the arrest and execution of innocent people. It provides an in-depth exploration of the paranoia, fear, and injustice that characterized Stalin's regime, showing the human cost of political purges and the absurdity of the bureaucratic system.

    The 835th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The Flanders Road by Claude Simon

    The novel delves into the complexities of memory and the chaos of war, weaving together the narratives of several characters whose lives are entangled by the events of World War II. Set against the backdrop of the German invasion of France, the story unfolds through a series of flashbacks and stream-of-consciousness reflections, primarily focusing on a French cavalry officer captured by the Germans. As the characters grapple with their experiences and relationships, the book explores themes of loss, betrayal, and the elusive nature of truth, all while challenging traditional narrative structures with its fragmented and non-linear approach to storytelling.

    The 1085th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Thaïs by Anatole France

    "Thaïs" is a historical novel set in Egypt during the 4th century, revolving around a beautiful and hedonistic courtesan, and a Christian ascetic monk who becomes obsessed with her. The monk, seeking to save her soul, convinces her to abandon her life of luxury and pleasure to live in a convent as a penitent. However, as she finds peace and salvation in her new life, the monk is tormented by his repressed desires and lust for her, ultimately leading to his own spiritual downfall. The novel explores themes of desire, faith, and the destructive power of obsession.

    The 1202nd Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. L'assommoir by Émile Zola

    The novel is a gritty portrayal of working-class life in 19th-century Paris, focusing on the struggles of Gervaise Macquart, a laundress who aspires to a better life. After her lover abandons her with two children, she marries a roofer, Coupeau, and they initially find happiness and modest prosperity. However, their lives spiral downward due to alcoholism, poverty, and the harsh realities of their social environment. The narrative delves into the impact of addiction on family dynamics and the broader community, painting a vivid and unflinching picture of the urban poor's descent into despair and degradation.

    The 1212th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Jean Christophe by Romain Rolland

    This expansive novel chronicles the life of a gifted German musician, from his early years in a Rhineland village, through his turbulent development as an artist, to his maturity and recognition as a composer. Set against the backdrop of Europe's cultural and political landscape at the turn of the 20th century, the protagonist's journey is one of passion, struggle, and the relentless pursuit of artistic freedom. Through his friendships, loves, and artistic endeavors, the narrative delves into themes of personal growth, the nature of genius, and the universal search for meaning. The protagonist's life story is a testament to the power of resilience and the indomitable spirit of the creative mind.

    The 1360th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Nana by Émile Zola

    "Nana" is a novel that follows the life of a young woman in 19th century France who rises from the streets to become a high-profile courtesan. Her physical charm and manipulative nature allow her to maintain control over her high-status lovers, leading them to financial ruin and even death. The novel is a critique of the moral decay of the French society, highlighting the destructive power of lust and greed.

    The 1479th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. The Opposing Shore by Julien Gracq

    The book is a captivating tale of a young military officer who is posted to a remote coastal fortress in an imaginary Mediterranean country. As he awaits a long-anticipated enemy invasion, he finds himself drawn into the local customs and intrigued by the enigmatic presence of the enemy on the opposing shore. The narrative delves into themes of waiting, the passage of time, and the psychological impact of imagined threats, all set against a backdrop of political and military tension.

    The 1512th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

    "Suite Française" is a two-part novel set during the early years of World War II in France. The first part, "Storm in June," follows a group of Parisians as they flee the Nazi invasion. The second part, "Dolce," shows life in a small French village under German occupation. The novel explores themes of love, loss, and survival, and provides a unique perspective on life in France during the war. The book was written during the war but was not discovered and published until many years later.

    The 1514th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. La Bête humaine by Émile Zola

    "La Bête humaine" is a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the French railway system during the 19th century. The plot revolves around a railway worker who, despite being a seemingly ordinary man, harbors a dark, uncontrollable urge to kill. The narrative is a grim exploration of human nature, delving into themes of inherited violence, animalistic instincts, and the impact of industrialization on society. The novel is also filled with a variety of subplots involving jealousy, betrayal, and murder, all intricately tied to the characters' lives.

    The 1576th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. A Woman's Life by Guy de Maupassant

    "Une Vie" is a tragic tale about a young, naive aristocrat who dreams of love and happiness. However, her life becomes a series of heartbreaks and disappointments as she endures a loveless marriage, infidelity, the death of her children, and financial ruin. Despite her struggles, she maintains her faith in the goodness of life and its potential for happiness. The novel explores themes of disillusionment, the harsh realities of the world, and the often wide gap between expectation and reality.

    The 1633rd Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Le Diable au corps by Raymond Radiguet

    "Le Diable au corps" is a French novel focusing on a teenage boy who engages in a passionate and scandalous affair with a woman whose husband is fighting at the front during World War I. The novel explores themes of love, betrayal, and societal norms, while highlighting the consequences of their illicit relationship, including the woman's pregnancy, the boy's expulsion from school, and the tragic death of the woman during childbirth. The story is a poignant portrayal of youthful recklessness, war's impact on society, and the destructive power of love.

    The 1635th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.