The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes)
Publication Date: December 18, 2007
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An unforgettable French masterpiece in the spirit of The Catcher in the Rye-in a dazzling new translation
When Meaulnes first arrives in Sologne, everyone is captivated by his good looks, daring, and charisma. But when he attends a strange party at a mysterious house with a beautiful girl hidden inside, he is changed forever. Published here in the first new English translation since 1959, this evocative novel has at its center both a Peter Pan in provincial France-a kid who refuses to grow up-and a Parsifal, pursuing his love to the ends of the earth. Poised between youthful admiration and adult resignation, Alain- Fournier's narrator compellingly carries the reader through this indelible portrait of desperate friendship and vanished adolescence.
Robin Buss is a writer and translator who works for theIndependent on Sunday and as television critic for The Times Educational Supplement. He studied at the University of Paris, where he took a degree and a doctorate in French literature. 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.
The scent of fresh pencils is in the air, and homework assignments are around the corner. In honor of back-to-school season, author Alexander Aciman recommends The Lost Estate by Henri Alain-Fournier. More at NPR.org
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- The Lost Estate is one of many great novels—Moby-Dick and The Great Gatsby are other examples—in which the story of a charismatic hero is narrated by an awestruck, somewhat lesser figure. Why do you think Alain-Fournier chose to tell the story of Meaulnes principally through the eyes of François Seurel? What might he have gained—or lost—by having Meaulnes tell his own story?
"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."