Snehal Bhagat's Reviews > The Lost Estate

The Lost Estate by Alain-Fournier
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Dec 11, 10

This was a trying exercise; the central theme - essentially, that childhood may be transient but immaturity can be forever, is not unworthy of elaboration, but the execution is poor. The main character is under-developed, the gender roles are an illustration in stereotyping, the ideals espoused are cloyingly quaint and the rapid shifts in mood and tone are unsettling.

There isn't much by way of literary merit, at least not in the translated version, and the significance lies elsewhere; written just before the first world war broke out, it captures something of a world that, while it had been changing rapidly, still had some place for the occult, for magic, and mystery, within ordinary sensibility, and in so doing makes apparent the extent to which secular edification following the two great wars has hastened that process of change.

It also highlights how much the form of the novel has itself evolved in the past century- certainly no work that relies on a hint of mystery and yet gives away the plot of each chapter in its title (We Are Caught In An Ambush) is likely to get published these days, and this is the least of its deficiencies.

Fowles' Magus, loosely based on this, is therefore a tribute, but also a counterpoint, and certainly the more engaging read.
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