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Le Grand Meaulnes

by

ALAIN-FOURNIER

218 pages [read as ebook, downloaded for free online]

Published in 1913

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

If I remember correctly, I read this book in 7th grade; I wrote an extensive essay on it: I was totally crazy back then with this book. It came back to mind some months ago, and I’m thrilled it is my first book read in 2012. I have to say I found the same enjoyment, about35 years later!
I probably even more appreciated the style, especially on the countryside descriptions. The author, one of too many great artists who disappeared during WWI, does a fantastic job at recreating the ambiance of little villages, with their local school, with simple peasant life, and the world of friendship.

It is really a very romantic book, with the theme of love, lost love, the pursue of memories, of a beautiful face you saw one day and try to find  again, and of mysterious magic places, where life seems to be coming from another world, a world free of sorrow, a world free of the looming shadows of pre-WWWI.

His 2 main heroes are great characters.

Two movies have been on the book, in 1967 and 2001. I have not seen them, and will probably not, too afraid to break the charm!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

Le Grand Meaulnes is the only novel by French author Alain-Fournier. Fifteen-year-old François Seurel narrates the story of his relationship with seventeen-year-old Augustin Meaulnes as Meaulnes searches for his lost love. Impulsive, reckless and heroic, Meaulnes embodies the romantic ideal, the search for the unobtainable, and the mysterious world between childhood and adulthood. It is considered one of the great works of French literature.

François the narrator of the book is the son of M. Seurel who is the director of the school in a small village in the Sologne, a countryside of lakes and sandy forests. After arriving in class, Augustin Meaulnes, who has led a distressed life, soon disappears. He returns from an escapade he had which was an incredible and magical costume party where he met the girl of his dreams, Yvonne de Galais.

Various English translations are available. While there have been different translations of the title, such as The Lost Domain and The Wanderer, modern translations usually do not translate the title. [wikipedia]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Alain-Fournier was the pseudonym of Henri Alban-Fournier (October 3, 1886 – September 22, 1914[1]), a French author and soldier. He was the author of a single novel, Le Grand Meaulnes (1913), which has been twice filmed and is considered a classic of French literature.

Alain-Fournier was born in La Chapelle-d’Angillon, in the Cher département, in central France, the son of a school teacher. He studied at the Lycée Lakanal in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris, where he prepared for the entrance examination to the École Normale Supérieure, but without success. He then studied at the merchant marine school in Brest. At the Lycée Lakanal he met Jacques Rivière, and the two became close friends. In 1909, Rivière married Alain-Fournier’s younger sister Isabelle.

He interrupted his studies in 1907 and from 1908 to 1909 he performed his military service. At this time he published some essays, poems and stories which were later collected and re-published under the name Miracles.

Throughout this period he was mulling over what would become his celebrated novel, Le Grand Meaulnes. On the first of June 1905, Ascension day, while he was talking a stroll along banks of the Seine he had met Yvonne de Quiévrecourt, with whom he became deeply enamoured. The two spoke, but he did not manage to win her favours. The following year on the same day he waited for her at the same place, but she did not appear. That night he told Rivière, “She did not come. And even if she had, she would not have been the same”.[2] They did not meet again until eight years later, when she was married with two children. Yvonne de Quiévrecourt would become Yvonne de Galais in his novel.

He returned to Paris in 1910 and became a literary critic, writing for the Paris-Journal. There he met André Gide and Paul Claudel. In 1912, he quit his job to become the personal assistant of the politician Casimir Perrier. Le Grand Meaulnes was finished in early 1913, and was first published in the Nouvelle Revue Française (from July to October 1913), and then as a book. Le Grand Meaulnes was nominated for, but did not win, the Prix Goncourt. It is available in English in a widely-admired 1959 translation by Frank Davison for Oxford University Press.

In 1914, Alain-Fournier started work on a second novel, Colombe Blanchet, but this remained unfinished when he joined the army as a Lieutenant in August. He died fighting near Vaux-lès-Palameix[1] (Meuse) one month later, on the 22nd of September 1914. His body remained unidentified until 1991, at which time he was interred in the cemetery of Saint-Remy-la-Calonne.

Most of the writing of Alain-Fournier was published posthumously: Miracles (a volume of poems and essays) in 1924, his correspondence with Jacques Rivière in 1926 and his letters to his family in 1930. His notes and sketches for Colombe Blanchet have also been published. [goodreads]

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AS THIS IS MY FIRST REVIEW OF THE YEAR, I WANTED TO INFORM YOU THAT YOU CAN NOW FOLLOW MY READING PROGRESS IN 2012 ON A CHART IN GOOGLE

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