download (4).jpg

The Great Meaulnes

download (4).jpg

Alain-Fournier, The Great Meaulnes [Paris; 1913]

The phrase that kept running through my head as I read Le Grand Meaulnes over the last couple of weeks was "Romanticism via the technique of Naturalism," and while I think in the end that Romanticism won out, the early chapters of the book, in which the desolate, gently squalid village life of its protagonists is sketched out with poetic economy, sets a naturalistic tone which the dreamlike adventures that go on to happen to them can never quite dispel. If the second half isn't quite as satisfying as the first, that may be because its themes are essentially adolescent, and the limitations and irrevocabilities of adulthood will always dash the pregnant expectations of youth, in which nothing is yet off the table.

August 21, 2017