The Pequod Review:
Henri Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes isn’t quite the great lost French novel that some critics have made it out to be; nonetheless it is a fine book about the boarding school experience, nostalgia, and above all the sense of lost innocence and heightened sexuality common to early adolescence. The story is narrated by Seurel, a reserved and physically awkward fifteen-year-old, whose life is disrupted when a charismatic new schoolboy (Augustin Meaulnes) joins his class. The power of Fournier’s novel is less in the narrative than in the atmosphere his writing conveys: passionate, earnest, youthful, and affectionate. (Fournier was often accused of sentimentality, to which he responded: “Sentimentality is when it doesn’t come off – when it does, you get a true expression of life’s sorrows.”) Tragically, this was Fournier’s only book; he was killed less than a year later in the early days of World War I at the young age of 27.