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In A Small Village In The Sologne, Fifteen Year Old Fran Ois Seurel Narrates The Story Of His Relationship With Seventeen Year Old Augustin Meaulnes Impulsive, Reckless And Heroic, Meaulnes Embodies The Romantic Ideal, The Search For The Unobtainable, And The Mysterious World Between Childhood And Adulthood


10 thoughts on “Le Grand Meaulnes

  1. says:

    Dear Henri Alain Fournier,Some people claim you had great talent as a novelist Many would claim I don t Is it fair that you died in World War I while I live, free to write this review and feeling like I m having a bad morning because I didn t have all the usual ingredients for my breakfast shake Your remains weren t identified until 1991, true, but do you know that without yogurt, steel cut oatmeal, goji berries and banana congeal like pond scum when blended with almond milk I guess in a way translated works of fiction are like that, lacking an ingredient Not really fair of me to judge you then, is it And on top of that, I read somewhere that the Robin Buss translation I have isn t the best.I don t know Maybe I ve been prejudiced against anything French because there s been a creepy mime wandering around the farmers market on Saturdays With the summer heat, its face make up starts to melt and peel and it scares my kid and me Or maybe, having discovered Woody Allen before James Dean, it s because I m sentimental for my own sort of coming of age story But the truth is, I found your novel sappy Sappy to the nth degree And that evening, sobbing, he asked Mademoiselle de Galais for her hand in marriage Barf.Some folks describe it as dream like Well, I ll meet them halfway and say that it is conducive to a dream like state, in as much as I found myself wanting to fall asleep as I read it God Germany probably invaded France so often to keep from nodding off Can you blame them They had all those big philosophical treatises to write, but then kept getting distracted by the latest Twilight prequel And they would ve even read it in the original French because all you Continentals speak five languages I tried to make excuses for you, thinking, Look at it this way it s a parable for post colonial France They were just coming off that Napoleonic high and had to simultaneously deal with the onset of modernity It s a simple case of British penis envy But even my credulity can only stretch so far Goodbye, Alain Fournier Sorry your life was cut short by one of history s celebrated mistakes Maybe this book will mean something to somebody else It s going to have the opportunity, because I m donating it to my library.


  2. says:

    Alain Fournier s one and only novel due to his tragic death during the first world war evokes dreamlike memories of a bygone era, with an evocative and moving friendship all surrounding a long lost love Set in a small French commune and the lush, pleasant countryside Fifteen year old Fran ois Seurel narrates his close relationship with slightly older boy Augustin Meaulnes, also known as Le Grand Meaulnes because of his natural charisma and physical presence with fellow students during their time at school And it s during this time that Meaulnes apparently goes missing for a few days only to return with a fascinating story of how he got lost one night and ended up in a seemingly abandoned estate in the middle of nowhere in which sits a Chateau that appears to be hosting some sort of party With avid curiosity Fran ois eventually finds out that there was a beautiful girl hidden within, and for Meaulnes it was indeed love at first sight, so they both decide to try and discover just where abouts this mysterious place could be , and this is just a beginning that will see their lives changed forever, both for better and worse.Who knows what Fournier could have gone on to achieve, he had the potential to be a very special writer, and as a first written work of fiction it certainly is a lavish one and has at times the feel of a fairytale that children would get read at bedtime, the narrative is superb and the book on the whole is easy to read so for younger readers looking for a good place to start with classic French literature this would qualify as doesn t contain the complexities and deep character studies of some of the other renowned classic French writers Although there is a story to an extent, the main factors for me were the universal feelings that would arouse the senses, with a nostalgic youthful spirit and the true meaning of an adolescent friendship shining through I was left partially with a sad yearning for it s three main characters but also for myself, as your left with a strong feeling for your own treasured memories and loves from years gone by.


  3. says:

    Some time after leaving university I was in a club and at one point in the, er, festivities I was tapped on the shoulder I turned around, and there was an attractive blonde girl She spoke my name I stared back at her blankly Don t you remember me she asked I had to confess that I didn t Nicole, she said I was about to embarrass myself further, and admit that I still could not place her, when it came to me Ah, Nicole Of course She had been in the same halls of residence as I We didn t take any of the same classes, and we hadn t spoken all that often, but our paths had crossed once or twice in the corridor or at parties.As the night wore on we danced and we chatted and we kissed and when the club closed we set out on a walk, with Nicole in the lead I know my home city well, but being drunk, with my attention elsewhere, I had no real idea how we came to be in the place where we ended up As I remember it now, and as I remembered it the next day, it resembled some kind of stone arena, with high walls, and lights all around, some of them hanging from trees Of course I doubt this was the case, but that is what I see when I cast back into the past to try and dredge up that night I don t know exactly how long we were there it felt like hours, but it could only have been thirty minutes or so.In any case, before Nicole and I parted, she asked for my telephone number Unfortunately, I did not know it by heart I still don t and I have never carried my mobile with me on nights out Tell me your number, I said, gallantly, and I ll remember it Foolish boy Of course, when I woke up the next day the number was entirely lost to me it was as much an irretrievable part of the night as the kisses and the fantastic stone arena had been Yet I didn t initially let it bother me too much, being used to hooking up in clubs and also being of the belief that I would sooner or later bump into her again.However, over the following months, even though I frequented various clubs in the city, including the one in which we had met, and although I kept something of an eye out for her, I found no trace of Nicole, by which I mean that she never herself turned up, and nor did any of the people I had seen her with that night The longer this continued, the interested I became in the situation, the mental energy I devoted to it Who is this girl, I thought to myself, whose life briefly merged with mine only to suddenly disappear At the end of each night I would leave the club and go in search of the arena, hoping that being in the same state i.e very drunk would somehow jog my memory and lead me there By this stage, the whole incident had taken on the qualities of a dream I felt as though I was searching for someone and a place, for reasons I couldn t quite articulate to myself, which had, in fact, never existed anywhere except in my imagination.Now when I think back to that time and wonder why I so wanted to see Nicole again it strikes me that it wasn t the girl herself that I was chasing, that I was looking for, but a part of myself, the part that had only been possible when I was with this particular girl in that extraordinary place I found it hard to let that go This is not, of course, unique to me many of us want to reclaim or relive our pasts, many of us hanker nostalgically after certain experiences, and this, at least partly, is what Le Grand Meaulnes, Alain Fournier s beautiful French novel, is about.Le Grand Meaulnes begins with the arrival of a young boy, Francois Seurel, in Sainte Agathe He is accompanied by his father, a teacher, and his mother, who he describes as the the most meticulous housewife ever known It is, then, made immediately clear that Francois home life is rather conventional, and, well, perhaps a little boring Moreover, the boy himself is both timid and, due to a problem with his knee, weak, and so does not, or cannot, play with other children Then one day Augustin Meaulnes who is, of course, the great or grand Meaulnes of the title enters his life The circumstances behind their first meeting are significant it is a Sunday, a day traditionally of rest, the dullest of dull days, when one would not expect anything exciting to happen However, when Francois returns from church he finds a woman gazing through the window of his house It turns out that she has lost her boy, who is, well, I think you ve probably worked that out already.It was clever on Alain Fournier s part to introduce Meaulnes in this way, not with his presence, but by the absence of it, thereby revealing an important, or the defining aspect of his behaviour or character without him even being on stage Having given his mother the slip one understands straight away that this is an adventuresome boy, who does things his own way, who is, in contrast to Francois, unconventional Indeed, his physical entrance into the novel confirms this impression, as he comes down the Seurel s stairs to announce that he has been rooting around in their attic, quite without permission of course, and has found some unused fireworks He then takes Francois outside and sets them off This is, in effect, the symbolic and literal start of a exciting existence for Francois.In order to be able to enjoy Le Grand Meaulnes one must accept its limitations There is, for example, no character depth everyone is one dimensional, is, essentially, a symbol, or a type, of one sort or another Meaulnes is shown in the beginning to be adventurous and brave and independent, and that is how he remains all of his actions like taking Fromentin s horse and cart on a long drive in order to pick up Francois Grandparents are further proof of these qualities Francois does not develop either sure, he gets into scrapes than he would have done without Meaulnes friendship, but he does not take a very active part in them he is, in effect, an observer or bystander or, at best, a sidekick Indeed, no one behaves in a way that would surprise you, and no one s thought processes, aside from the narrator s, are engaged with all of the characters are straight forward and predictable even Meaulnes, whose unpredictability is itself predictable.I also ought to mention that the plot is often derided as unbelievable and silly and too reliant upon coincidences, particularly in the second half Responding to these specific criticisms is difficult, because silly and unbelievable are subjective terms All I can say in that regard is that I don t agree or that all literature is unbelievable if you bring a cynical attitude to it and this book than most requires you to be open minded, because, for the greater part, the prevailing atmosphere is one of awe and wonder In terms of coincidences, yes, there are some, but I have never understood why this bothers readers as much as does Life is full of coincidences, so it I not as though we have no experience of them ourselves Besides, I would argue that, flawed or not, the plot is tremendously gripping and moving.Superficially, Le Grand Meaulnes is a kind of fast paced mystery novel As noted, Augustin one day leaves to pick up Francois Grandparents, but he fails to meet them, and doesn t come back for three days When he does return, he fails to provide an explanation, seems distracted and aloof, and appears to be working on some sort of map Naturally, if one has not read the book before, all of this is intriguing Where has Meaulnes been What is the map for What happened to him Whatever the boy experienced clearly had a profound effect upon him and one is eager for an explanation Further, even once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, there continues to be twists and surprises, such as the identity of the gypsy boy, and the nature of the relationship between Frantz, Valentine and Meaulnes.One is always told to avoid spoilers in one s reviews, but, as far as I am concerned, this is absurd, that any review that avoids spoilers isn t actually worth reading because it cannot have engaged with the book in any meaningful way With that said, I have no qualms about revealing that when Meaulnes leaves with the horse and carriage to pick up Francois Grandparents he gets lost and eventually comes upon a remote house, where a fete is taking place He infiltrates the party and subsequently meets a beautiful girl, Yvonne Now, what is so brilliant about this idea is that, for a novel about adolescence and adolescents, it actually taps into so many popular, seemingly immortal and universal, aspects of adolescent fantasy, such as the idea of getting lost, the prospect of discovering some magical place hitherto unknown, the opportunity to pretend to be someone other than yourself and, in the process, meeting a beautiful girl or boy, depending on your preference, of course with whom you fall in love.However, to give the impression that Le Grand Meaulnes is nothing than a kind of teenage fantasy or fairy tale, or even a pacey mystery, is to undersell it What elevates it to the level of a masterpiece is that it is, much like Adolfo Bioy Casares The Invention of Morel, a perfect synthesis of gripping plot and philosophy, adventure and romance and ideas it is, despite its apparently simple characters and whimsical story, a sneakily complex little novel It is important to remember that Francois, from some distance in years, in narrating the tale, is, with fondness and some sorrow, looking back to his own childhood Le Grand Meaulnes is, then, like Marcel Proust s opus, on one level about memory, about how we remember important events or periods in our lives Indeed, he admits within the first couple of pages that his memories are somewhat confused or have, in a way, merged, so that what may have been numerous days or experiences seem like, have become, only one.I think this is subtly profound writing, because it is exactly how memory works memories do not come to you in a linear fashion, as a straightforward or precise narrative days do not follow in sequence and so what you remember is likely to be an amalgamation of various memories or days If you try to picture an event, let s say your first day at school, certain aspects may be as it was then that it was a Monday, say but it is also likely that you will misremember or confuse certain details, that, for example, you will recall the walls of the classroom being grey when they were actually cream, that it was, in fact, the walls of a different classroom, years later, that were grey Moreover, one sometimes cannot help but place important people in places where they cannot have been, or one feels their presence hanging over certain incidents that they were not part of On this, perhaps my favourite passage in the book is when Francois tries to conjure up the first night in the new house in Sainte Agathe, and sees Meaulnes tall shadow moving across the wall, to and fro, restless and friendly, even though it would be ten years before they would actually meet.As one progresses through the novel one comes to realise that there is a satisfying mirroring going on vis vis Meaulnes and Francois, that while one is trying to go back to the place where he met Yvonne, the other is trying to go back in his memories in fact, both could be said to be going back in their heads Bearing this in mind, one could see the lost domain as not only a real, physical place, but as childhood itself This is given further weight when one considers that the domain was characterised by a kind of gaiety or freedom, and was full of children who, on at least one of the days, were in sole charge Throughout the book both the older Francois and the young Meaulnes are trying to recapture something ephemeral, something that therefore cannot be recaptured Weeks went by, then months I am speaking of a far away time a vanished happiness It fell to me to befriend, to console with whatever words I could find, one who had been the fairy, the princess, the mysterious love dream of our adolescence I m sure now that when I discovered the nameless domain I was at some peak of perfection, of purity, to which I shall never again attain One might argue that this interpretation overlooks the love relationship between Meaulnes and Yvonne, that it was her who he was desperate to reclaim or rediscover, not some mythical idea of childhood, but I don t see that It is telling, for me, that Meaulnes, once he and Yvonne are reunited, feels deflated or disappointed and actually leaves at the first opportunity Of course, his leaving is explained as being part of some promise or pact, but Isn t it really the case that Meaulnes was in love with the idea of Yvonne and the lost domain, than with the real woman and the real place Let s face it, he did not have to abandon her he had a choice and he chose to go, to follow the dream rather than live with reality To return to Nicole and my introduction, like me it was not the woman that he wanted, but how she made him feel, what she was part of For anyone interested in my story, I never saw Nicole again, but I think I may one day have stumbled upon the stone arena, which, if I am correct, is part of a large park or botanical garden that is roughly ten minutes walk from the club It does not, except in the most vague or rudimentary fashion, align with my memory of it.


  4. says:

    I read this purely because it was recommended by Penelope Fitzgerald, in truth since she is dead this was not a personal recommendation but it was one of her books of the century as mentioned in Hermione Lee s Penelope Fitzgerald a life.The appeal to Fitzgerald seems clear It is a strange little tale akin to a fable, it conjures up a dream like atmosphere, it takes the lives of adolescents with one foot in the adult world and one foot in childhood very seriously and captures their state of mind and allows it to command the story, perhaps she too might have noticed that it is at once shy of and explicit about adult sex and sexuality and characters who are running but whether towards it or away they could not say view spoiler it is clearly there but is not depicted in the book hide spoiler


  5. says:

    When I was about 10 I spent what felt like an entire summer playing in a marsh with a friend The marsh was a gradual discovery Each day, as our courage increased, we penetrated deeper into it, crawling and hopping from tree mound to tree mound, until we had mapped out quite a large area in our imaginations And of course we were the only two who knew about it This area of the marsh became our sprawling fort, with significant crossings and islands given names from my primary reading matter of the time, The Book of Lists So the longest bridge a downed tree was dubbed Verrazano Narrows, and the crossing that required the longest leap was called Bob Beamon Way There was also Edison s Isle, where we found a light bulb and The Sewer, where we pissed Every day I dreamed about this place, and every day that I could I returned to it It was a wonderful time in a secret world By the next summer my friend had moved, but that didn t deter me I returned to it alone But just one year had wrought irreversible changes plants were so overgrown I couldn t even find my way in, let alone make it back to Edison s Isle I was devastated, but being 11 or so I quickly recovered and moved on to other adventures, though in many ways the adventures in that secret marsh were never replicated, never surpassed, so it became a place in my imagination, a fertile place representing the unselfconscious mysteries and adventures of youth.Many years later I spoke to this friend, now far along in a life fairly antithetical to my own, and I mentioned the marsh, hoping to recapture some of its magic by tapping into his memories, but he had little or no recollection of the place I was newly devastated, as I had wanted for years to ask him about it, and I felt a hard lump of sadness drop to the bottom of my being, but in some ways this sadness fortified even further the magical significance of the marsh in my imagination This book, too, is about a secret domain discovered by chance and never found again, and the spell the experience casts on the children involved But its secret domain was also populated by a beautiful girl the children being not 10 or 11 but 15 or 16 , and so there s the added tragic element of lost love permeating Le Grand Meaulnes life, infecting it with an ideal that can never be realized, making of him a wanderer on this earth.But what is it about this book that is so affecting, so haunting and magical The subject matter, sure, is one reason the end of youth as precipitated by life long obsession with unattainable beauty and mystery encountered in one s youth, bringing on the realization that one peaked early, that those early wonders will never be experienced again This is always a powerful theme, and in one way or another is the emotional substratum of much literature But why does this book in particular pack such a wallop I have now read it twice, the first time being many years ago, but I still don t know exactly One possibility that struck me this time is the odd hybrid nature of the sensibility expressed in its pages There s an enchanted wistfulness, a Romantic sensitivity to very delicate natural mysteries and adolescent relations, but coupled with this is an almost blunt and matter of fact rusticity that is somewhat detached In other words the sensibility is that of a sensitive rustic intellectual a character type I always find intriguing And then there s the writing itself which had every opportunity to launch into floweriness and mystical indulgence, yet didn t, instead it steered a steady course of basic description, which enhanced even the aching unresolved mystery of the subject matter.I love this book and its impact on me was no less than the first time around, and upon finishing it I m having some difficulty moving on to another novel.


  6. says:

    Le Grand Meaulnes The Lost Estate, Alain FournierAlain Fournier was the pseudonym of Henri Alban Fournier 3 October 1886 22 September 1914 , 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 Le Grand Meaulnes is the only novel by French author Alain Fournier, who was killed in the first month of World War I The novel, published in 1913, a year before the author s death, is somewhat biographical especially the name of the heroine Yvonne, for whom he had a doomed infatuation in Paris Fifteen year old Fran ois Seurel narrates the story of his friendship 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 1970 1343 359 1347 1394 292 9786001219573 20 1368 272 1368 1381 293 9643056600 1389 1392 1398 120 9786226454148 1343 1368


  7. says:

    Alain Fournier was the pseudonym of Henri Alban Fournier 1886 1914 , a French author and soldier Le Grand Meaulnes 1913 was his only novel, filmed twice and is now considered one of the greatest works of French literature He was a friend to Andre Gide 1869 1951 who wrote The Fruits of the Earth 1897 , Strait is the Gate 1909 , The Counterfeiters 1927 among many others Alain Fournier started work on a second novel Colombe Blanchet in 1914 However, that same year, he joined the army and died while in the battlefront It was World War I Le Grand Meaulnes, also known as The Wanderer when translated and published in the US, is a semi autobiographical novel It is about a 17 y o boy Augustin Meaulnes, who got lost in a forest and meets a girl of his dreams, Yvonne de Galais This fictional female character was based on Alain Fournier s crush, Yvonne de Quievrecourt who agreed to meet with him a year after along the Seine riverbanks However, de Quievrecourt did not show up and it broke Alain Fournier s young heart The narrator of the story, 15 y o Francois Seurel is like a boy who is having an awakening while witnessing the older boy s first lesson on love What makes the dreamlike narration captivating is the fact that both of them are young boys who are innocent in the ways of love When Meaulnes disappears in search of his lost or should I say mysterious love, I felt his loss too and thought of the first time my first crush broke my heart It is a bittersweet story that everyone, young and old, can identify with Meaulnes determination to find his love back proves to us that romantic idealism is still something that can sweep our feet off Even in this era of cyberspace, still nothing can replace the impact of a true and heartfelt story of young love.Critics compare this to F Scott Fitzgerald s masterpiece The Great Gatsby 1925 , one of the greatest work of American literature I can see the similarities enchanted estate, the guests, the festivities and the use of the third person narrator Fitzgerald was in France when he wrote his masterpiece and did not deny being influenced by this Alain Fournier s work.Finally, like Gatsby, Le Grand Meaulnes is also a sad love story In fact, this is one of the saddest love story that I ve ever read that can compete with Eric Segal s Love Story. The fact that broken hearted Alain Fournier died while fighting for his country a year later adds to the appeal of the novel Come to think of it, Alain Fournier s lost or unrequited love for de Quievrecourt did not go to waste In fact, he made it immortal by putting his experience of that loving and hurting by writing this novel, Le Grand Meaulnes. Glad to have read a Alain Fournier No wonder French people are known to be romantic They have this book as a required reading in their schools.


  8. says:

    The themes of childhood and wonder, idealized love and adolescent oaths are treated in such a way that one penetrates body and soul in the world of the great Meaulnes one feels the cold, the smell of school, calm and whispering secrets.For my part, I preferred the first part that takes place at the school in the village of Sainte Agathe until the narrative of the strange feast.The rest did not seem necessary and I think I even zapped As for those who do not like this novel I tell them that they may have somewhat forgotten the magic of adolescence This is not the Internet and its virtual meetings will still remove us this thirst for the absolute, the Love with a capital A, which is the purpose of this wonderful novel and its author Alain Fournier.At 19 on seeing a beautiful stranger on Parisian sidewalks Alain Fournier will suffer all his life he had not been able to decide to live with him This passage of his life, mixed with childhood memories in Sologne, will give him the theme of the great Meaulnes , which he wrote at the age of 27, a year before he died under the German bullets of the Great War.


  9. says:

    This is the Centenary Edition of the French classic Le Grand Meaulnes, a coming of age story of a boy and the companion he looks up to, nicknamed Le Grand Meaulnes So we have all the usual boyhood stuff of bullies, juvenile delinquent episodes, boring school days, awkwardness around girls One day Le Grand Meaulnes, very much the leader, while our narrator is the follower, gets lost and finds himself in an exotic costumed adventure in a fairyland, beautiful girl and all The story becomes a search for this Lost Domain and the lost girl Surprisingly, the novel is semi autobiographical Alain Fournier spent much of his life looking for a girl he fell in love with at first sight It was a short life because he was killed in WW I, at age 28, the same year the book was published, 1914 The main theme is shifting memory, and I thought at first that theme was owed to Proust, but Proust s famous works started to be published the same year, so there must be an earlier source for the concern for memory that pervades even modern French novels The book has a lot of local color of rural France place names are real or barely disguised, and today the schoolhouse of the story is the Alain Fournier museum Read the Introduction after the book because it gives away much of the plot.


  10. says:

    Although Le Grand Meaulnes sometimes translated as The Wanderer or The Lost Estate was written in 1913, which was in the decadent or modernism era, this lovely, mysterious novel falls definitely into the category of late Romanticism Just one year after publishing his one and only novel, young Henri Alain Fournier was killed in a World War I battle at Epargnes in 1914 The literary world is so much the poorer for his loss as well as for the loss of many novels he surely would have written The title character in Le Grand Meaulnes is a 17 year old student, Augustin Meaulnes, who arrives at a boys school in rural France, about 1910 Meaulnes is worldly and charismatic, and soon has all the boys wanting to be his friend The narrator of the story is Meanlnes s best friend Francois Seurel, a sickly 15 year old boy upon whom Meaulnes seems to have a healing effect Francois carefully chronicles all the elated and brooding emotions of his moody new friend One day, Meaulnes takes a cart and horse from the school and disappears for three days without explanation When he returns, Meaulnes seems dazed and forlorn He relates to Francois how he accidentally stumbled upon a beautiful old house what he will later call the lost domain in the middle of a forest Meaulnes sneaked into an engagement party that was going on there The party had a dreamy, surrealistic feel to it until Meaulnes heard from the sad, young groom that the wedding was off because the fiancee fled Meaulnes also met and talked to beautiful Yvonne de Galais, the sister of the would be groom But before he could really get to know her, she disappeared and he had to stumble his way back to the school The original 1960s film version of this novel is a beautiful tribute to the spirit of Alain Fournier s story As Meaulnes tells in flashback his experience at the lost domaine, the footage is shot in a blurred style, like a Monet painting, to indicate his dreaminess and confusion during his disoriented and ethereal state I have also read that the 2006 film version is disappointing too bad The events that subsequently continue to bring together and pull apart Meanlnes, Yvonne, Franz, and his would be bride Valentine, and various bohemian youth of the region continue in Francois s narrative for the next three years until the story comes to its melancholic conclusion This is beautiful piece of writing in terms of coming of age, adolescent angst, and the typical Romantic search for the unattainable ideal Highly recommended.