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Le Grand Meaulnes

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  9,913 ratings  ·  761 reviews
In a small village in the Sologne, Fifteen-year-old François 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.
Paperback, 206 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by Penguin Classics (first published 1913)
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Stephen B I read a review in London Review of Books, and the reviewer reckoned that Frank Davison’s is the "tried and true translation".

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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Steven Godin
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 François 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 t ...more
Esteban del Mal
May 13, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who wonder what Cirque du Soleil would sound like if they talked
Dear Henri Alain-Fournier,

Some people claim you had great talent as a novelist. Many more 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
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
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 d ...more
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 min
Eddie Watkins
May 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
‘But you have read Madame Bovary?’
(I’d heard of the book.) ‘No.’
‘Not even,’ she looked ratty now, ‘Hermann Hesse?’
‘No.’ Unwisely I tried to dampen Madame Crommelynck’s disgust. ‘I only really did English literature at school…’
‘“English”? Australia was part of the English Empire, England is European! No French? No German? You are Australian, you illiterate monkey of puberty! Thomas Mann, Rilke, Gogol! Proust, Bulgakov, Victor Hugo! This should be your culture, your inheritance, your skeleton! You
Ahmad Sharabiani
Le Grand Meaulnes = The Lost Estate, Alain-Fournier
Alain-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, i
Jim Fonseca
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-authors
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 sea ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, french, ya, classics
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 a ...more
The Lost Estate by Alain-Fournier goes by two titles. The second is Le Grand Meaulnes. “Grand”, being a French word with different connotations, it is best to avoid a direct translation and so the English title is completely different. The French author, Henri-Alban Fournier (1886-1914), went by the pseudonym Alain-Fournier. The book was published in 1913. The author died in 1914 at the age of twenty seven, killed in action, at the start of the First World War.

I like the ending of this book. I
MJ Nicholls
Le Grand Meaulnes is supposed to be untranslatable, and this translation by French classics legend Robin Buss doesn’t convince me otherwise. The novel hinges upon the titular Meaulnes being such a charming force of character in a lower-class school, his name echoes down the ages and his antics and adventures make him a much-beloved geezer in the province. Doesn’t quite work. But the narrator François is certainly smitten and describes Meaulnes’s first love in fits of florid descriptive prose wor ...more
Never have I found it more difficult to finish a lovelier book. My first attempt was derailed five years ago; the second was ultimately successful only after a three-month hiatus. And this little volume carried so much weight by now, as a favourite of several people - exes, friends, the hard-to-label - from different times and places in my life ... all of which have something of the partially-lost domain about them.

I started reading it again in a sunny May garden surrounded by birdsong - the fir
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although Le Grand Meaulnes (sometimes translated as The Wanderer or The Lost Estate) was written in 1913, which was more 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 more novels he surely would have w ...more
Ben Winch
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french
A few moments later a strange equipage drew up in front of the glass doors: an outlandish old farm wagon with rounded panels and moulded ornaments; an aged white horse with head bent so low that he seemed to be hoping to find grass in the road; and in the driving seat―I say it in the simplicity of my heart, well knowing what I say―perhaps the most beautiful young woman that ever existed in the whole world.

For the first half of Le Grand Meaulnes I was well-nigh intoxicated by the air of romance a
Roger Brunyate
The End of Childhood

Augustin Meaulnes, the larger-than-life hero of Alain-Fournier's charming French classic of 1913, is a curious mixture of tormented adolescent and knight errant. The soubriquet "grand" that is always associated with him refers perhaps to his size (large, tall) but also to the power of his dreams (grandiose, or even great). As told by the fifteen-year-old teacher's son François Seurel, the impact of this lad of seventeen who arrives as a boarder in his father's school has the
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most French people read this book at school and a recent poll in France made it the sixth best book of the 20th century.

Unlike the average French person, I came to this story of adolescent love in my early 50s. Would the book's charms work for the older reader? The answer is an emphatic yes. It perfectly captures that magical period when emotions are at their most intense.

Le Grand Meaulnes, the protagonist, is an adventurous, charismatic wanderer who stumbles across a lost chateau where partyg
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book when I read it way back when. Who knows what other strange novels the author may have written were his life not cut short in another pointless war.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK GIVES ME FEELINGS. UGH. *sobs with abandon*
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a boring afternoon of one of these days of June, I chose Le Grand Meaulnes immediately in the local library right after the librarian's alarm that they were closing. It was French and I thought I had a glance on a review before. By reading a few pages of it, I realized that it was a young adult story of two boys François and his best friend Meaulnes who lived in a lower-class school in a village. Narrating in a first person, I thought despite its title there was no trace of Meaulnes himself. ...more
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read "Le Grand Meaulnes" at school when I was ca 16, the book stood in its own category, the impression it left hard to describe. And then it disappeared - from my life, but strangely enough, also from public interest in Poland. I remembered it again after coming back home from a boarding school in Duino two years later, and wanted to get it, to go back, to decipher it better, but nobody I asked knew it. I kept looking in libraries and book-shops, in vain, not even on the internet for a long d ...more
John Farebrother
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because it is so famous, and because I was hoping to improve my French. It's a charming tale about the transition from boyhood to manhood, when you discover girls and the magic kids' world gives way to the real world, with even more promise. It's written in a delightful old-world prose, and set in a provincial market town in northern France. As it is, it would have been appreciated as a book in its own right, capturing as it does the idyll of quiet country life, before the adven ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first half of this book, I really was not enjoying it, but the second half I loved, so I would give the first half a 2 and the second 5.
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, along with a few others in various languages, is a real test of the very idea of translation. A challenge to those who believe in the inherent capacity of any language to absorb and present the feelings, impressions, beliefs and atmosphere of works originally expressed in another language. Myself, I only have two languages: English and French. I was raised with both and have some idea how each of them works. I read Le grand Meaulnes in French, of course. (No one should read anything i ...more
I, ok. I don't think I am smart enough to have enjoyed this book. To see the beauty in this novel.

Is it because it's the quintessential French novel, and I'm not French? Like, at all?


This, at the end of the day, was just dull. "The Great Meaulnes" was, in fact, just a boy who refused to commit and instead gloried in wallowing in self-pity.

David Rain
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Alain-Fournier was the pseudonym of a French writer, real name Henri Alban, who died in the First World War at the age of twenty-seven. The narrator of this, his only novel, is a young boy, the son of a schoolmaster in provincial France in the late nineteenth century. The story begins when a new pupil comes to the school, the extraordinary Augustin Meaulnes. Taller than the other boys, stronger, more daring, Meaulnes seems destined for adventure, and adventure soon comes when he absconds from sc ...more
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Le Grande Meaulnes, by Alain –Fournier

I loved this book, which will make me pay more attention to The Le Monde top of 100 best novels…up to know I placed emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon critics’ lists of The Guardian and TIME…

Le Grande Meaulnes is “one of France’s most popular novels…much loved yet little read”
F. Scott Fitzgerald borrowed its title for The Great Gatsby (some think even the characters).

All the life of the author was influenced, moved round a single afternoon, when he met Yvonne, whic
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
A unique and dream-like book about youthful ardour and longing. The story of Meaulnes and his search for his lost love is unforgettable. Impulsive, reckless and heroic, Meaulnes embodies both romanticism and a search for the elusiveness of the world between childhood and adulthood. I found this book both enjoyable and thought-provoking in its exceptional depiction of romantic feeling. The result was a haunting ability to remain in my memory with a sort of nostalgia for the reading that I have ra ...more
Dec 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, french
A strange, haunting book about adolescence and growing up, and about the enchantment and madness of spending your life on supposedly grandiose but ultimately self-absorbed romantic quests at the expense of your happiness and especially that of other people.

I must say I did not like the character of Meaulnes at all. I think he's obnoxious, self-absorbed and empty, and there's no reason for everyone to be worshipping him as much as they do. It didn't detract my enjoyment of this book, though, beca
A wistful novel of nostalgia* and young love, lent further poignance by the author's death a year after its publication. It took me some time to get comfortable with Le Grand Meaulnes; a lack of meaningful dialogue between Meaulnes and the narrator initially prevented me from feeling the depth of their bond. And I wasn't entirely convinced of Meaulnes' status among the boys, or that I agree with the blurb's assertion that he as a character is 'unforgettable'. (Of everyone, I was most drawn to Ja ...more
Richard S
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautiful book of French romanticism. Very evocative of the beauty of the countryside and the wonders of childhood. Characters individually are not particularly complex and their psychology is not particularly interesting, but their interactions, especially among the boys at the school, are fascinating. I'm not sure it falls into true literature as much as exceptional young adult reading.

It's no wonder the French people I've known, for whom this is a required text, are the way they are, calm,
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong author attribution 3 11 Jul 19, 2020 09:02PM  
Bright Young Things: The Lost Estate/Le Grand Meaulnes 39 35 Sep 23, 2014 01:00PM  
French endings 6 62 Aug 22, 2012 12:17PM  

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Alain-Fournier was the pseudonym of Henri-Alban Fournier (1886 – 1914), a French author and soldier. He wrote a single novel, Le Grand Meaulnes (1913), which was adapted into two feature films and is considered a classic of French literature.

Alain-Fournier was born in La Chapelle-d'Angillon, in the Cher département, in central France, the son of a school teacher. He studied at the Lycée Lakanal in

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“This evening, which I have tried to spirit away, is a strange burden to me. While time moves on, while the day will soon end and I already wish it gone, there are men who have entrusted all their hopes to it, all their love and their last efforts. There are dying men or others who are waiting for a debt to come due, who wish that tomorrow would never come. There are others for whom the day will break like a pang of remorse; and others who are tired, for whom the night will never be long enough to give them the rest that they need. And I - who have lost my day - what right do I have to wish that tomorrow comes?” 37 likes
“Je pensais de meme que notre jeunesse etait finie et le bonheur manqué.

I thought too that our youth was over and we had failed to find happiness.”
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