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The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 3 May 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441894
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"I read it for the first time when I was seventeen and loved every page. I find its depiction of a golden time and place just as poignant now as I did then." -Nick Hornby

About the Author

Alain Fournier was born in La Chapelle d'Angillon in 1886. Le Grand Meaulnes was published in 1912. Les Miracles appeared posthumously in 1924. Alan Fourneir was killed in action on the Lesuse in 1914.

Robin Buss is a writer and translator who works for the Independent on Sunday and as television critic for The Times Educational Supplement. He is part-author of the article 'French Literature' in Encyclopaedia Britannica and has published critical studies of works by Vigny and Cocteau, and three books on European cinema, The French Through Their Films (1988), Italian Films (1989) and French Film Noir (1994). He has also translated a number of volumes for Penguin Classics.

Adam Gopnik is a New Yorker staff writer and author of the recently published Paris To The Moon.


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He came to our place one Sunday in November 189-. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frequent Traveller on 17 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, and found the new translation excellent. I especially approve of the title. Both introduction and notes are worth attention.

In the distant past I minutely dissected this book, in French, during my last year in school. So slowly did the class proceed that we never got any further than the entrance of Le Grand Meaulnes. It was dinned in that not only was Meaulnes (close to unpronounceable for Ayrshire Scots) "tall", he was also considered "great" or "terrific" by his classmates, though we never had the opportunity to discover why.

The process we were involved in then was akin to turning over the individual stones on a gravel path, rather than standing back and looking at the garden. It killed any interest completely. Consequently, this book was a revelation, on several levels.

Not only did I find out how the story ended -- which was what I had really wanted to know -- I discovered atmosphere and charm our class had never seen. In addition, I found themes that have echoes in later works by other authors. The most significant of these, noted in the introduction, being of Alain-Fournier's teenage narrator in 'Catcher in the Rye' and other 'coming of age' books. And in same the way that the story owes a debt to ballads and fairy tales, it can be seen as a precursor of 'magic realism', in terms of the strange events at the Lost Estate.

But it isn't just of literary historical interest -- it's a good read, too. There's a debate over whether it's a children's book, a teenage book, or even for adults, but frankly, who cares? Just read it and see what you think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ruby T on 3 Nov. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first read this book over 30 years ago in the original French when it was a set text for my French A level and it has remained one of my favourite books of all time (although I am ashamed to say that I can now only read the translated version). The story is just beautiful with an ethereal quality and stands alone as a classic in every sense of the word. It is a book which will truly captivate you as Francois Seurel gets spellbound by the older Augustin Meaulnes and his tales. Don't be put off by descriptions of the book as a romance and a coming of age novel as it is so much more than this and deserves greater recognition in the English speaking world. Like others though I have never understood why there was any need to rename the translated version as 'Le Grand Meaulnes' is a perfect title in any language.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gilgamesh on 11 May 2007
Format: Paperback
This novel is, as Adam Gopnik says in his introduction to this sparkling new translation, like a French 'Great Gatsby', 'Catcher in the Rye' or 'Brideshead Revisited'. Nearly a century after it was first written it is as powerful and memorable a novel as ever - capturing a sense of lost youth like few other novels you'll ever read. I loved it already but enjoyed it even more in this new translation. Meaulnes is a character you never forget.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By John Self on 26 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
First published in 1913, Le Grand Meaulnes (which really is the more sensible title, despite the renaming for this excellent new translation) is narrated by Francois Seurel, who remains a secondary character in favour of his friend Augustin Meaulnes, whose arrival at his school "was the start of a new life." Everyone at school loves le grand Meaulnes, and we are left to believe that he is a young man of irresistible charm, though we don't see much direct evidence of this.

Certainly though the book is rich in sensory detail, which helps involve the reader in its seductive (and sometimes suffocating) world. Every sense and scene is smothered in detail: a disused room contains "drying lime leaves and ripening apples;" people stand "in the magical light" of fireworks, watching "two sprays of red and white stars bursting;" a wheelwright's workshop has "the bellows of the forge squeaking ... in this murky, clanging place;" to give examples just from the first few pages.

Meaulnes disappears from school one day with a pony and trap, unaccounted for until his return a few days later. He tells of his discovery of a mysterious estate where a wedding fete is about to take place. He is "dazzled" by the sights:

"He could hear doors opening and see two fifteen-year-old faces, pink with the cool of the evening and the heat of the chase, under their wide-brimmed bonnets with laces, all about to vanish in a sudden burst of light. For an instant, they twirled around, playfully; their full, lighted skirts lifted and filled with air. He glimpsed the lace of their long, quaint knickers and then, both together, after this pirouette, they leapt into the room and shut the door behind them.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
In a new translation for the Penguin Classics imprint Alain-Fournier's book Le Grand Meaulnes has been retitled as The Lost Estate with the former title in brackets. I don't know why it is so difficult to stick to the French title, which is obviously Alain-Fournier's preference. I suspect the involvement of marketing managers.

I read this as an adolescent and was swept away by it's romanticism and feeling of another time. Coming to it in what I laughingly call my prime I am less swept away as swept into the corner. So much still resonated for me - but I was also more critical. It is true that Le Grand Meaulnes himself is absent for a good deal of his own feast and it is Francois Seurel, the 15 year-old narrator whose life is upset and enchanted by the slightly older Meaulnes. It is Meaulnes who rides away one day, returning a few days later with his story of wandering the countryside and coming upon a beautiful old chateau where hundreds are gathered to celebrate the return of Frantz de Galais, a young aristocrat who is bringing his fiancée to be married, and meeting there the love of his life, the beautiful Yvonne, sister of Frantz. Something has gone wrong with the marriage plans, however, and Frantz flees in the middle of the night, with his companion a man dressed as a Pierrot. There follows a series of shocks and village disturbances ending in a death and a birth.

Seurel himself is embroiled in the heart-break and this is as much his story as that of Meaulnes, who is part-spectre - a boy and a man acted upon who fades in and out of view by virtue of Seurel as narrator, and never makes himself entirely manifest. He is somehow always unknown, a mystery, his motives clouded.
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