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Le grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier

Le grand Meaulnes (original 1913; edition 2004)

by Alain-Fournier

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2,378502,635 (3.78)1 / 143
Title:Le grand Meaulnes
Info:Project Gutenberg
Collections:Read, E-Book
Tags:read in 2017, en français, fiction, coming of age, 20th Century

Work details

Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier (1913)

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English (37)  French (6)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  All (50)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
A dreamy, episodic novel about adolescence, nostalgia, dreams, and loss. What stood out to me the most was its incredibly vivid sense of place. Right from the first page, I could feel the shabby, cold house in the French countryside consolidate around me. I could hear the boards creak when they were walked on, and see the specks and flaws in the very windowpanes. Further afield, I could feel the bleakness of the landscape in a bare winter; the fields of yellow-grey, the sparse trees. That was the best part.

The unfolding of the story, although more straightforward than many a French novel of my experience, is nevertheless episodic and slightly unconnected - but it is written in the voice of a narrator who is recalling the vividness of his adolescence as something long ago, so the style works quite well. The story is about an adolescent boy who stumbles upon a kind of random dreamlike fête in the middle of nowhere, joins in, and falls in love with a beautiful girl. Afterwards he cannot find the place, nor the girl, tells his friend the narrator about it, and together they build up an enormous, overwhelming dreamworld, a consuming desire to find what was lost. No surprises then, that all does not end happily - but to me it was more melancholy than tragic.

The French title, Le Grand Meaulnes, refers to the character Augustin Meaulnes, who is the one who finds the fête and drives everything that happens afterwards. The narrator, a younger boy, is drawn into it willy-nilly, as it were. What I failed to understand is what’s so grand about Meaulnes. From the moment we are first introduced to him, he is more odd than attractive. He is obsessive, secretive, irritable. He does impulsive selfish things (especially late in the book) which he has the grace to regret afterwards when it’s too late. Don’t get me wrong, I like reading about flawed characters - but I can’t understand why everyone in the book is so drawn to him, why he is such a magnet, why our narrator is so absorbed by him and why unfortunate women suffer because of him. Everything revolves around this young man, and I can’t for the life of me see why.

No one seems able to mention this book without also mentioning that its author died early in WW1 as a soldier - a kind of French Rupert Brooke. (Apparently I can’t either!) I’m tempted to wonder if the author’s early promise and untimely death adds to the fame of this book, since apparently this is required reading for almost every French school child to this day.
10 vote ChocolateMuse | Jul 16, 2017 |
A classic, with some exquisite writing, but I really was confused about the story. It kind of all came together at the end, but the French landscape was a barrier I really could not cross. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
One of my favourites. A classic, so haunting and evocative of French provincial life. ( )
  Momonaco | Nov 23, 2016 |
I read this book in 2013 and fell in love with it.

It has a sense of nostalgia that is almost tangible. It's sort of like what would happen if Nick and Jay Gatsby were young boys, growing up in the French countryside, but it's also a lot more than that.

It's very emotive. The tension is really well-written and rife throughout the book. The reason I love this novel is because it introduces love and chemistry and romanticism without necessarily involving a romantic relationship.

It's a wonderful coming-of-age story, and I don't hear people talk about it very much, so I thought I would review it. It's sad, it's sweet, it's sentimental and left a really lasting impression with me.

I wish he had written more books - some of his work is published posthumously, but this is one of his only novels. Alain-Fournier died a month after he was drafted into the army in 1914. He wasn't identified until 1991.

This book, and some others that I'd love to read, are his legacy, though, and I'm glad this book in particular is considered a classic. ( )
1 vote lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
There is some wonderful imagery in this book but the characters are a bit muddled to me. The edition I read had a great introduction by Adam Gopnik that describes the book as inconsistent and contradictory and I agree... ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
...Good bookshops, though, will have one copy. Usually it is just the one, thin and a little bit tired at the edges. Often the sellers won't need to replace it more than once or twice a decade - I bought a copy recently; the shop hadn't sold another in 13 years - but that's not the point: the kind of bookseller who stocks Le Grand Meaulnes doesn't really do so for good business. If you're going to run a bookshop, you had better love books, after all, and if you love books, then Le Grand Meaulnes is the kind of novel you'll want to have around.

If you talk to people about this book, you'll notice something interesting: not only have a lot of them read it, but they're still reading it. How and where they get hold of it is a mystery - possibly they are finding it on the shelves of better-read relatives (which is what I did myself). Some books succeed by word of mouth; Le Grand Meaulnes survives by even less than that, a barely audible system of Chinese whispers.But it remains a book that writers turn to; perhaps as much as any modern novel, it has a style which has echoed through the works of others. Despite the confusion of its titles and its dog-eared thinness and its faults, this is arguably one of the most influential novels of the 20th century.

Henri Alban Fournier was born in La Chapelle d'Anguillon in the Sologne in 1886; he was killed in battle on the Meuse, aged 27, in September 1914. The son of a schoolmaster, Fournier was sketching out both a play and a second novel at the outset of war, but his reputation rests almost exclusively on his only complete work of fiction, which narrowly missed winning the Prix Goncourt...
added by Cloud9 | editThe Guardian, Tobias Hill (Aug 16, 2003)

» Add other authors (198 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alain-Fournierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blair, FrederikaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davison, FrankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delisle, FrançoiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellis, HavelockIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leuwen, DanielForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mélaouah, YasminaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mes, HanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nord, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my sister Isabelle
First words
He appeared at our house on a Sunday in November 189-.

(Davison translation)
Time passed. (Epilogue: Lowell Bair translation)
Le Grand Meaulnes belongs to, and is the finest example of, a category of fiction that has no name, but exists. (Afterword)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Augustin Meaulnes, il romantico, avventuroso amico del figlio di un maestro di campagna, si sperde nei sentieri che solcano la Sologne e in un castello fantastico incontra la bionda Yvonne. Realtà e sogno si intrecciano in questo enigmatico romanzo di Fournier (1886-1914).
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441895, Paperback)

An unforgettable French masterpiece in the spirit of The Catcher in the Rye-in a dazzling new translation

When Meaulnes first arrives in Sologne, everyone is captivated by his good looks, daring, and charisma. But when he attends a strange party at a mysterious house with a beautiful girl hidden inside, he is changed forever. Published here in the first new English translation since 1959, this evocative novel has at its center both a Peter Pan in provincial France-a kid who refuses to grow up-and a Parsifal, pursuing his love to the ends of the earth. Poised between youthful admiration and adult resignation, Alain- Fournier's narrator compellingly carries the reader through this indelible portrait of desperate friendship and vanished adolescence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:45 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Also known, and later filmed, as 'The Wanderer', this novel is the story of adolescent pain and the search for a lost love.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Average: (3.78)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441895, 0141194820

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