This book examines chronologically the development of French prose style from the twelfth century to present day, seeking to demonstrate the vast range of stylistic choices available to the writer of French prose, and to give readers a deeper understanding of the texts. The book is divided into sections dealing with periods (not always centuries) when it is possible to identify clear linguistic and stylistic shifts. It deals with the state of the language at that time, the development of vocabulary and grammar. Chosen passages of text either typify the period or reveal a stylistic innovation, and are also chosen for their intrinsic interest as well. Analysis often reveals unexpected subtextual meanings. Despite its undoubted scholarly basis, the book is intended to be eminently readable and entertaining. By giving an understanding of the connotative value of various stylistic devices, it should improve writers' ability to produce more authentic French prose by giving them a well-organized framework in which to judge the appropriateness of lexical choices and grammatical and syntactical structures.