Sunday, February 01, 2015

Fortnightly Book, February 1

Alain-Fournier was born Henri Alban Fournier in October of 1886. He wrote a novel under this pen name, Le Grand Meaulnes, also known as The Wanderer, that was published in 1913 and slowly built up a steady following over the years to follow. Alain-Fournier never wrote another because of World War I. On September 22, 1914, he went missing in action, presumed killed with body never found, when the scouting party to which he was assigned came under machine gun fire.

I know very little about the book, but it is a story of a boy who met a girl once and set out to find her again. In 1999, Le Monde did a survey of French readers to create a list of the 100 most memorable works of the twentieth century, and Le Grand Meaulnes came in at number nine. I don't give much credit to such lists, but it at least shows that the work still has a fair number of serious readers.

I will be reading the work in a Heritage Press (New York) edition, translated by Francoise Delisle with an introduction by Henri Peyre and pen-and-pencil-with-wash illustrations by André Dignimont. It is typeset in 12-point Garamond and has nice satiny-blue covers. While I'll be reading it in translation, I notice that Project Gutenberg has the original French text, so I might occasionally look at that.


  1. MrsDarwin8:36 AM

    Ah, one I've already read! This was in Brendan's pile of pre-WWI atmosphere novels to work through, but as he was bogged down in Zola I read this one for him. It's very moody and evocative, almost like a fairy tale at times. It also has undertones of David Copperfield -- I wonder if Dickens was any influence on Alain-Fournier?

  2. branemrys7:27 AM

    It could be; Alain-Fournier spent a fair amount of time in England and seems to have been an Anglophile, so quite likely had a more than passing acquaintance with the major notes of English literature.


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