'One of the most romantic, elegiac novels of adolescence ever written' Sunday Telegraph
Alain-Fournier was born Henri Alban Fournier, the son of two school teachers, on 3 October 1886 in La Chapelle d'Anguillonin France. He studied at a boarding school in Paris, at the naval college in Brest, and also at the lycee Lakanalin Sceaux, where he met his lifelong friend, the critic Jacque Riviere. In 1905 Fournier had a chance meeting with Yvonne de Quievrecourt and fell instantly in love. This meeting was the inspiration for Le Grand Meaulnes, though the novel was not finished until Fournier had completed his military service in 1913. While working as a columnist and private tutor, Fournier was called up to fight in the First World War. He was killed in action at Vaux-les-Palameix in 1914, though his body was not formally identified until 1991. Le Grand Meaulnes is his only finished novel. Valerie Lester is the author of Phiz, The Man Who Drew Dickens (2004) and Fasten Your Seat Belts!History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin (1996).She has published essays and poems in various venues including The Atlantic Monthly, Airways Magazine, and The New Dictionary of National Biography.She first tried translating Le Grand Meaulnes as a teenager at school in Switzerland, and finished the job half a century later.
"It has captured the hearts, and fantasies, of generations of adolescents and lingered on their bookshelves, and in their souls, well into middle age...a tale of enchantment. It is, above all, a fairy tale, one imbued with the beauties of the French countryside, an eerie, charged nostalgia and all the yearnings of the budding Bohemian soul" Independent "A bewitching tale of adolescence, love, adventure and the mysterious spaces in between" Sunday Times "One of the most romantic, elegiac novels of adolescence ever written...resounds with not only the unfulfilled promise of the writer and his fictional alter ego but also that of a generation" Sunday Telegraph "It is an extraordinary book, part fairytale or romance, part realistic study of French provincial life, sometimes grim, in the last years of the 19th century; and some of its fascination comes from this curiously hybrid quality. It is both naive and knowing. It has the dewy freshness of a first novel, but it is also admirably constructed" Spectator "Intense, perfectly capturing that interval between childhood and the adult world" -- Rosie Thomas