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Le Grand Meaulnes (French)

Le Grand Meaulnes is a French

novel by Alain-Fournier, first published in 1913. The novel is considered a classic of French literature, and is renowned for its poignant exploration of adolescence, memory, and the search for the ideal.

The story is set in rural France at the turn of the 20th century, and follows the adventures of the protagonist, François Seurel, a quiet and introspective boy who attends a small school in the village of Sainte-Agathe. François becomes fast friends with Augustin Meaulnes, a charismatic and enigmatic new student who arrives at the school after running away from home. Meaulnes is immediately drawn to the mysterious and elusive Yvonne de Galais, whom he meets at a costume ball held at a nearby chateau.

After the ball, Meaulnes disappears without a trace, leaving François to wonder about his fate. Some time later, Meaulnes reappears with a wild tale of adventure and romance, having stumbled upon the chateau where he first met Yvonne, and become involved with her and her family. François is captivated by Meaulnes’ story, and together they embark on a quest to rediscover the chateau and find Yvonne once again.

The novel is a haunting meditation on the transience of youth and the power of memory. The character of Meaulnes is both romantic and tragic, embodying the intense longing and restlessness of adolescence. François, in contrast, is more reserved and contemplative, and serves as a foil to Meaulnes’ impulsive and passionate nature.

Throughout the novel, Alain-Fournier explores themes of love, friendship, identity, and the search for meaning. He also makes use of rich symbolism and imagery, drawing on the natural world to evoke a sense of wonder and mystery. The novel’s dreamlike quality and evocative prose have made it a beloved classic, and its influence can be seen in the work of writers such as Marcel Proust and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Despite its critical acclaim and enduring popularity, Le Grand Meaulnes was tragically Alain-Fournier’s only completed novel. He died in World War I at the age of 27, just two years after the novel’s publication. His early death has only added to the book’s mystique, and helped to cement its place as a masterpiece of French literature.

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