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Evocative mystery full of nostalgia
on 17 April 2004
Sometimes you will read a book that is so good it will leave an impression that will remain with you long after you have finished the last page. Alain-Fournier's "Le Grand Meaulnes is one such book.
Set around the turn of the last century, this story is part romance, part mystery and part a nostalgic evocation of youth and centres around the story of Meaulnes who stumbles upon a party held within an enchanting chateau that neither the hero nor the narrator are able to find again.It is at this party that Meaulnes meets a girl who, whilst beguiling him, remains as elusive as the chateau. All these events take place within the mysterious countryside of The Berry in France, an area readers of Gillian Tindells' excellent "Celestine" will be very familiar with and will know as having the same ambience as such remote parts of England as Dartmoor.
Having read many translations of French literature, there is no other book that so beautifully captures village life and childhood as this book. The book is full of nostalgia and paints a vivd picture of everyday life in a small village, particularly it's school. Tragically, the author was killed in action during 1914, one year after "Le Grand Meaulnes" was published and, unfortunately,remained the only book that he wrote. It very much captures the tragedy of that generation, rather like Housman's "Shropshire Lad" poems do in English literature.
"Le Grand Meaulnes" is one of my favourite books of all time and I would unreservedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted and poetic read. An absolute classic.