Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes
Listen to James Naughtie and novelist and poet Michele Roberts on BBC Radio 4's Bookclub programme as they discuss Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes.Listen now:
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Episode 1 of 2
Julian Barnes and Hermione Lee travel to France in search of the places and people which inspired his novel of adolescent love Le Grand Meaulnes. Part 1: A Childhood in Sologne.
The village school where Fournier's father taught, the holidays he spent at his grandparents' cottage and the tumbledown house in the woods nearby fed the imagination of Henri Alban-Fournier. He drew on these locations when creating his only finished novel Le Grand Meaulnes, a simply written story of love and longing as an adventuring schoolboy discovers an almost mythical lost estate lived in by a young women, which the writer published under his pen name 'Alain-Fournier'. Auguste Meaulnes' fictional quest to retrace his steps and find the woman he dreams about echoes Fournier's own romantic obsession with a young woman he encountered briefly in Paris - whom he later traced using private detectives.
The novelist Julian Barnes and biographer Hermione Lee compare Le Grand Meaulnes to Dickens, Debussy's opera Pelleas and Melisande and F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and discuss the reputation of the novel in France today.
Producer: Robyn Read
Readings by Philip Franks from a translation by Frank Davison.