PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Beverley Bie Brahic, after Leopardi's 'Broom' Michael Freeman Benefytes and Consolacyons Miles Burrows At Madame Zaza’s and other poems Victoria Kenefick Hunger Strike Hilary Davies Haunted by Christ
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This article is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

Alain-Fournier and English Literature W.J. Strachan

Henri Fournier, who adopted the pseudonym 'Alain-Fournier' in 1908 (to distinguish himself from a famous cyclist), had an enthusiasm for Dickens's David Copperfield which was shared by his family and the most enlightened of his lycée teachers, Monsieur Mélinand. It was this enthusiasm that first led him to opt for the 'Dickens way' of relating the kind of novel he was already planning in 1905, when he was working as a clerk in London. As he explained in a letter to Jacques Rivière (13 August 1905), there were many advantages in having a boy-narrator, and the technique fitted in with his preoccupation with adolescent love, interspersed with mysterious adventures. It was from Dickens that he learned to enter into a boy's mind, a boy's world, and how to vary the pace of his novel. Thus in Le Grand Meaulnes the dream world of the 'Domain' - an idyllic interlude in the narrative - was to have been succeeded by a series of events in rapid succession: 'Pirates', 'The Ambush', 'Police', ran the chapter headings of Part II.

If he had proceeded along these lines, Le Grand Meaulnes would have been no more than a rattling adventure tale in the mould, say, of Treasure Island. What gives the novel its added dimension is the quest for 'le bonheur', which cannot simply be equated with the English word 'happiness'. The study of this element in the novel will involve us with two works by Thomas Hardy, which Alain-Fournier knew ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image