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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,661 ratings  ·  245 reviews
À la suite d'une explosion, sans doute nucléaire, qui a selon toute vraisemblance ravagé la Terre entière, Emmanuel Comte et ses six compagnons font du château de Malevil, dont la profonde cave leur a permis de survivre, la base de départ de leurs efforts de reconstruction de la civilisation, qui passera également par l'affrontement avec d'autres groupes de survivants, que ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Folio, 635 pages
Published March 3rd 1983 by Gallimard (first published April 7th 1972)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  3,661 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Malevil, Robert Merle

Malevil is a 1972 science fiction novel by French writer Robert Merle.

It was adapted into a 1981 film directed by Christian de Chalonge and starring Michel Serrault, Jacques Dutronc, Jacques Villeret and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

The story's events take place in rural France in the late twentieth century. The protagonist is Emanuel Comte, former school director, now turned farmer and landowner. He is also an owner of a tourist attraction - an old castle called Malevil after t
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a mess.

I really need to do better research on what novel I will read next aloud to my wife, especially when said work is on the wrong side of 500+ pages. Ostensibly, this stinker looked to have all of the right pieces of a ripping yarn - even if it might be dated (early '70s) and containing an overdone topic (survivors of nuclear holocaust), the high ratings here on GR and the "23 WEEKS ON INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER'S LIST!!" prominently displayed on its cover pushed it over the edge. God, w
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Malevil by Robert Merle
Written 1972 and translated from the original French in 1973.

Although written in the early 70's, there is nothing dated about this tale of survival under the worst conditions possible visited on the planet. Most are familiar with this sort of novel. Odd pockets of civilization survive the ultimate destruction. A battle that gives no warning, no vibes at all. There were no preparations to make, because Who Knew?, which is probably the most..."democratic" way to begin. With
This would have been a good enough book if

1) It wasn't so extremely long, and (more importantly)
2) The narrator wasn't so disgustingly male-chauvinist

I really liked the beginning, the disaster, the starting of a new mini-society, but then the repetitiveness of how women are either whores, old crones or children and how they must be shared equally really got on my nerves. This is a very MANLY book. Women are only around to wash clothes, cook, clean - and provide sexual services. The one woman wi
Vit Babenco
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Darkness begins on that day when History came to an end simultaneously with its object. The civilization whose progress it was there to record had ceased to exist.”
If the global cataclysm were to strike humankind and only few human beings could survive would they be capable to build the civilization anew?
What is the base of civilization? And what are the body, heart and soul of society?
“‘Let’s say, if you like, that in my opinion any civilization needs a soul.’
‘And that soul is religion?’ He pu
My personal experience is that novels translated into English often have an odd feeling to them. A sense that I'm missing something. An intangible if you like. I've always believed that being able to read the novel in it's original language (French in this case) would aide in a greater understanding of the subtleties and nuances of the story. But I was a lousy foreign language student in school and barely eked out a C- in German. I never went near French. So I have to be content with reading the ...more
I had heard a lot of things about this book prior to reading it. It is considered one of the better 'post apocalyptic' novels out there (by many fans of the sub-genre).

For me, this book was ok. I couldn't suspend my disbelief towards the author's treatment of events that took place in the aftermath of a major nuclear war. Once the bomb strikes, the characters switch to a medieval lifestyle just like that. Most of the things survive the nuclear war (At least the things that the author deemed esse
After a two hundred page marathon to finish this, I couldn't be more happy. It was worth it!

I was so close to not reading this book! What a loss that would've been!

Now, that's a good post-apocalyptic study right here and I have to think a while before I can review it.

I hope I'll do it. I might be too lazy.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopian, french-lit
This is a hard book to rate.

On the one hand, the description of post-apocalytpic France is flawless, with some interesting (male) characters, power struggles, and general re-inventing of life and civilization. On the other hand, the way the women characters are written and the role they are given in this new society is quite revolting. The females only evaluate their worth through the regard they are held in by the males around them, and are all so very adoring of (and sexually attracted to) th
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love this book, and have read it at least three times. It really makes you think about what life would be like if you were one of the few to survive the apocalypse. It was written in the 1970s and is sexist, but the storyline is very interesting! Unfortunately this book is now out of print (and I'm not giving up my copy!).
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great, the best novel i've ever read
Amber Scaife
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A small group tries to rebuild their lives in 1977-post-nuclear-apocalyptic France.
This one surprised me with how good it is. Engaging and suspenseful in all the right ways and with fantastic characters.
Robert French
While considering possible apocalyptic novels to read, I remembered reading a novel in the late 70s that I enjoyed. All I could remember was a castle, a nuclear holocaust and the setting in France. A quick Google search using France, apocalyptic and castle and I found my book – Malevil. Next I began searching for a book that is considered very difficult to find. It was not available in the local new and used bookstores or available in the local library. In fact, there was only one copy in ALL th ...more
Dennis Royer
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Post-apocalyptic novels are really studies in human nature and provoke introspection. When society crumbles and man is reduced to nothing, does his nature change? Does he continue to hold on to values of decency, or is it necessary to revert to a bestial state in order to survive? This is the essence of what fascinates readers about PA novels. Malevil makes us ponder these things. The cast of characters are everyday people, easy to relate with. The setting, an old castle in the French countrysid ...more
Brian Melendez
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was surprisingly good. The title put me off, since I inferred that it attributed the collapse of civilization to some silly supernatural struggle, like Swan Song by Robert McCammon, which I bought and barely began reading before I dropped it in disappointment. (Not that all supernaturally inspired apocalypses are bad stories: I really liked The Stand by Stephen King.) In fact, Malevil is simply the name of the little French community where the story occurs. It is a pretty good story ab ...more
May 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: raben
This seems to be the month of abandoned books .. so maybe I am just not in the right mood at the moment. However, I usually love dystopian, apocalyptic future novels and this does come with a quite interesting premise and great reviews. I'm wondering if those reviews were all written back in the 70s when this book was written? I couldn't get past 20% of the book for three reasons .. the plot is convoluted and very very slow. I'm guessing back then editors weren't yet part of the publishing proce ...more
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A classic I had heard about long ago I finally got to read and was not disappointed. An end-of-the-world story set in the 1970's that reads as well today as it did then, I'm sure. Emmanuel owns a castle where he is entertaining friends when the world is thrust into a nuclear war and the castle's' walls are their saving grace. The positions that the survivors assume in order to establish a degree of civility is poignant and realistic. The eventual discovery of a few other s leads to the heart of ...more
Smith Nickerson
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Classic. Deserves to be reprinted for another generation
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great Book !
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apocalyptic
It's a brilliant book. I don't understand how Merle accomplished writing about the end of human race with such humor.
Sue Davis
I read this so long ago. What I remember is that it was unbearably sexist. I ran across the title in a list of “Robinsonnade” novels—I don’t think it works.
This is a French dystopian novel set in a rural village in Southwest France at a time, when written and first published in France in 1972 , in the near future of 1977. A 'clean' (lithium not hydrogen) bomb is exploded over France (And presumably the rest of the world), destroying the world and all living in it from humans to insects. There are pockets of survivors who were located somewhere protected by some natural phenomena. This story, told by a narrator as if writing a history, centers on su ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is THE BEST post apocalyptic book I have ever read and I have read a lot. Why? Because it is the most realistic. Many books such as The Road paint it extremely grim, while others are too optimistic. It has some very controversial moments, such as the indiscriminate killing of a starving band of people, the sharing of women as objects or fooling people with a fake religion. But it all makes sense. If the roving band eats the crops, everybody will starve. Since there is a shortage of females, ...more
Carly Kirk
3/4's of the way through I started worrying that the ending wouldn't stand up to how good the book had been for me so far... But the ending held up pretty well for me, all in all. I liked that there was another narrative voice occasionally that explained things from a different viewpoint and put some of the things that bothered me about the first narrator into a better perspective (at least for me)

On the other hand some of the attitudes about women bothered the heck out of me... I'm not sure if
I read this book as a youth and decided to re-read it along with two other Nuclear Apocalypse novels I read as tween/teen. So how did it hold up?

Not sure how I would have even found this book back in 1976 or 1977 when I first read it. Probably because I had a great library system in St. Louis County, MO.

The book is a great human story of a group of survivors. Similar to Alas Babylon it has a small focus. It is not concerned with the great sweep of history but rather how people deal with, liter
Thomas M.  Burby
I bought this paperback in 1974. I started it in the 8th grade and read about half of it during one particularly awful study hall and then, I put it away. It was getting tedious. It went on and on and had a lot of adult themes about how a few rather emotional people would survive a nuclear holocaust - and it takes place in a medieval castle and estate to begin with , so they have much of what they need to survive! However, lots of talking about the French citizens of the time - I was a teenager. ...more
The story here was compelling, but the book itself was very problematic. The female characters existed solely to cook, clean, and make babies. They did these 3 things while the men had adventures. The women were kept out of the governing of both the castle and the town, explicitly so the town at the end. This is one of my father's 3 favorite books, and I can see why, which is why I continued with it and didn't give it one star, because the story was original and compelling. But... I just can't j ...more
To my knowledge, this is the only French post-apocalyptic novel (or at least the only one written during the Cold War). It follows the daily struggles of small rural communities in the French countryside after a nuclear holocaust.

Unlike most other post-apocalyptic books, it does not deal with war, survival, or exploring; instead, it focuses on social aspects: how will human nature and morality change in absence of law and civilisation. Occasionally it is a bit slow or overwhelming (the author tr
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this but....
Very interesting to read a french version of the apocalypse. I was a tad surprised at the religious emphasis in the novel. Also our hero was too good to be true. It was so parochial - was no one interested in the world beyond, were they content to milk their cows and wait for it to come to them? Still, it was a ripping yarn. I advise that the Post Apocalypse Dead Letter Office a much better and sophisticated version of this situation.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: futuristic
The introductory section of the novel seemed a bit long and for a while I wondered how relevant it was to what I knew the theme of the novel. It would have been better if this information was more integrated with the main story of the novel. I am sure something was lost of the author's style in translating the novel from French to English but overall a good read.
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Born in Tebessa located in ,what was then, the French colony of Algeria. Robert Merle and his family moved to France in 1918. Merle wrote in many styles and won the Prix Goncourt for his novel Week-end à Zuydcoote. He has also written a 13 book series of historical novels, Fortune de France. Recreating 16th and 17th century France through the eyes of a fictitious Protestant doctor turned spy, he w ...more

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“Man is the only animal species capable of conceiving the notion of his own disappearance, and the only one capable of the despair that notion brings. What a strange race: so savagely determined to destroy itself, so savagely intent on preserving itself.” 5 likes
“And another thing needs to be said. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in the weeks preceding Zero Day made it possible to predict it. There were wars, of course, and famines and massacres. And here and there a few atrocities. Some of them flagrant (in the underdeveloped countries), others less obvious (in the Christian countries). But nothing, taken all in all, in any way different from what we had been seeing for the past thirty years. And all of these things had in any case occurred at a convenient distance, among peoples far removed from us. We were distressed by them, of course, we expressed indignation, signed petitions, or even donated small sums of money on occasions. But at the same time, in our heart of hearts, after having dutifully experienced these vicarious sufferings, we returned to our usual feeling of security. Death was something that always happened to others.” 0 likes
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