Le Grand Meaulnes (French) Mass Market Paperback – Jun 1 1963
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When Alain-Fournier was killed in battle on the Meuse in 1914, he left behind Le Grand Meaulnes, a novel of wistful enchantment. The tale is recounted by François Seurel, whose father heads the village school where Augustin Meaulnes comes to board. A tall, somber youth of 17, he instantly becomes the class ringleader, and is soon known as le grand Meaulnes. When the youth sets off on an impetuous errand of a few hours and doesn't return for several days, events take a darker turn.
After Meaulnes's reappearance, Seurel notices his companion's unrest, and tries to uncover its source. He wakes in the midwinter nights to find Meaulnes pacing the room "like someone rummaging about in his memory, sorting out scraps." Meaulnes remains disconsolate, but finally reveals the nature of his travels, and the strange days of revelry at his unintended destination--the "lost domain" to which he is desperate to return and doesn't know how to find. Seurel rightly guesses that Meaulnes met a young woman there, and that he is in love. "Often afterwards, when he had gone to sleep after trying desperately to recapture that beautiful image, he saw in his dreams a procession of young women who resembled her ... but not one of them was this tall slender girl." The two friends set about retracing Meaulnes's path, and their journeys take them into manhood, when Meaulnes finds at last a way to bring his quest full circle.
Alain-Fournier pairs his tightly twisting plot with a poignant nostalgia. His descriptive powers bring to the reader the sights and sounds--the icy winter winds and rattling carriage wheels--from an earlier time, all the while weaving a brilliant affirmation of loyalty and lasting friendship. --Joannie Kervran Stangeland --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
Lire Le Grand Meaulnes c'est aller à la découverte d'aventures qui exigent d'incessants retours en arrière, comme si l'aiguillon du bonheur devait toujours se refléter dans le miroir troublant et tremblant de l'enfance scruté par le regard fiévreux de l'adolescence. Le merveilleux de ce roman réside dans un secret mouvement de balancier où le temps courtise son abolition, tandis que s'élève la rumeur d'une fête étrange dont la hantise se fait d'autant plus forte que l'existence s'en éloigne irrévocablement.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is told by Francois Seurel, the son of the schoolmaster in a small, secluded town in la Sologne (Central France). One day a new kid comes to study and live with Francois's family. He is called Le Grand (the great) Meaulnes. He's a natural leader and an independent kid who one day steals a carriage in order to go pick up Francois's great parents. He gets lost in the woods and loses the carriage, which forces him to wander around the countryside where, after some time, he comes to an ancient domain, a big, decaying house where a huge party is about to begin. He notices everybody seems to be welcome and after a nap in a bedroom he finds old-style clothes seeminlgy ready for him to wear. So he does and he goes to the party. At some point he meets "the" girl, the most beautiful living being he's ever seen, and of course he falls madly in love with her. But she's mysterious and they will only have chance to exchange names. The day after, the party ends on enigmatic circumstances and Meaulnes gets a ride home at night, and so he is unable to figure out the way back to the house. The rest of his life will be one long and tragic search for the place and the girl of his dreams, and to reveal more would be unkind to potential readers.Read more ›
Anyway, I have always remembered the book as being fantastic and one of the most emotionally powerful things I had ever read. So much so, that a water stained, yellowed papaerpack copy had come with me over 25 years and 10+ moves to three continents.
So finally last week, I mad the time to read it again both to try to remember the specifics of what was so good and also so I could share it with my teenage daughter. Imagine my surprise to find it somewhat simplistic both in storyline and wtiting. The passion of the characters that caused them to make bad decisions in their lives must have seemed heroic to me as a 20 year old but sure seem transparently stupid to me now.
The general theme that you lose what ever you most passionately desire if you actually acheive it, does not really resonate with me now. Sometimes I find it to be true; other times not and in any case most older people don't desire things with the passion of the young.
Anyway, interesting book. Differet from most other things you might read. Worth the time; especially if you are 20 years old.
The story centers around François Seurel, whose father runs the local boys' school and his friend, an older boy, Auguste Meaulnes . Tall and commanding, Meaulnes is soon the class leader, and gets the nickname "Le Grand Meaulnes" which translates perhaps as "Meaulnes the Great" --hard to put into English. One day, the headmaster sends a student off to the railway station to fetch a visiting relative, and Meaulnes, not chosen for this excursion, bolts out the window and presumably tries to hire a faster horse and carriage and beat the other student to the station. But Meaulnes gets lost, or goes in another direction deliberately, and fails to return that evening.
What happens next is filled with mystery and possibly magic or delusion. Meaulnes tries to find "the lost domain"--a mansion where he meets and falls in love with a beautiful woman. But the way is hidden from him, the map incomplete, and Meaulnes desperately tries to find his path again. The tone of somber mystery is dark and magical, and evokes a mood of ineffable sadness and delight. The novel is like reading a fairy tale mixed with a romantic novel, and we can only guess what Alain-Fournier would have done had he lived.
The tale is set in France in the late 1800s. Our narrator is Francois Seurel, the somewhat sheltered, adolescent son of Sainte-Agathe's secondary schoolmaster. A new border comes to the school, Augustin Meaulnes, bringing adventure and a breath of fresh air into Francois' peaceful, rather sedate life. The charismatic young man easily becomes the leader of the schoolboys and much admired by all. He is definitely not flamboyant nor a show-off, but a rather quiet, serious and sometimes introspective young man.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This classic story is famous for its addictive eerie atmosphere -it deals with the protaganist stumbling upon, by chance, of a magical castle in the midst of a wild forest, and... Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003
I read this book because Simone de Beauvoir cited it in "Memoirs of a dutiful daughter." Since it's influence on her hasn't been mentioned, I wanted to do so here.Published on Oct. 26 2003 by M. Rodriguez
Le Grand Meaulnes (sometimes translated as The Wanderer or The Lost Domain) is one of those little books that often gets overlooked. Read morePublished on Sept. 11 2003 by D. C. Cannon
I taught this novel in my French Lit class this week. I was terribly disappointed by this translation, which is British, and very old. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2002 by Omnivoreader
Au début du siècle, dans la campagne française, un jeune homme vient bouleverser la vie de François Seurel. Read morePublished on Sept. 29 2002 by LudvicLeducPoirier-CPC
One winter during the 1890s, the teenage adventurer Augustin Meaulnes hijacks a carriage and disappears for several days. What mysterious realm did he discover while gone? Read morePublished on March 28 2002 by Connie Randall
I was interested in reading "Le Grand Meaulnes" after seeing that the English novelist John Fowles cited it as a major influence on his masterpiece "The Magus. Read morePublished on Dec 10 2001 by A.J.
I don't have much to add to the other favorable reviews here. Despite his premature death and limited output, Alain-Fournier's legacy lives on, most notably in the novels of John... Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2001