Shakam It took me some time to get comfortable with Le Grand Meaulnes; a lack of meaningful dialogue between Meaulnes and the narrator initially prevented me from feeling the depth of their bond. At the end of each night I would leave the club and go in search of the arena, hoping that being in the same state [i. Meaulnes cafarea scovare meraviglie, sa vedere e trovare dove gli altri si fermano, dove gli altri non vedono. We d Some time after leaving university I was in a club; and at one point in the, er, festivities I was tapped on the shoulder. They had all those big philosophical treatises to write, but then kept getting distracted by the latest Twilight prequel. In terms of coincidences, pierrduta, there are some, but I have never understood why this bothers readers as aalin as does.
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Shelves: bitchin Some time after leaving university I was in a club; and at one point in the, er, festivities I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned around, and there was an attractive blonde girl. She spoke my name; I stared back at her blankly.
Dont you remember me? I had to confess that I didnt. Nicole, she said. I was about to embarrass myself further, and admit that I still could not place her, when it came to me. Ah, Nicole! Of course! She had been in the same halls of residence as I. We didnt Some time after leaving university I was in a club; and at one point in the, er, festivities I was tapped on the shoulder.
As the night wore on we danced and we chatted and we kissed; and when the club closed we set out on a walk, with Nicole in the lead. I know my home city well, but being drunk, with my attention elsewhere, I had no real idea how we came to be in the place where we ended up.
As I remember it now, and as I remembered it the next day, it resembled some kind of stone arena, with high walls, and lights all around, some of them hanging from trees. Of course I doubt this was the case, but that is what I see when I cast back into the past to try and dredge up that night.
In any case, before Nicole and I parted, she asked for my telephone number. Of course, when I woke up the next day the number was entirely lost to me; it was as much an irretrievable part of the night as the kisses and the fantastic stone arena had been. However, over the following months, even though I frequented various clubs in the city, including the one in which we had met, and although I kept something of an eye out for her, I found no trace of Nicole, by which I mean that she never herself turned up, and nor did any of the people I had seen her with that night.
The longer this continued, the more interested I became in the situation, the more mental energy I devoted to it. Who is this girl, I thought to myself, whose life briefly merged with mine only to suddenly disappear? At the end of each night I would leave the club and go in search of the arena, hoping that being in the same state [i. Then one day Augustin Meaulnes — who is, of course, the great or grand Meaulnes of the title — enters his life.
The circumstances behind their first meeting are significant: it is a Sunday, a day traditionally of rest, the dullest of dull days, when one would not expect anything exciting to happen. However, when Francois returns from church he finds a woman gazing through the window of his house. He then takes Francois outside and sets them off. This is, in effect, the symbolic and literal start of a more exciting existence for Francois.
In order to be able to enjoy Le Grand Meaulnes one must accept its limitations. I also ought to mention that the plot is often derided as unbelievable and silly and too reliant upon coincidences, particularly in the second half. Responding to these specific criticisms is difficult, because silly and unbelievable are subjective terms.
In terms of coincidences, yes, there are some, but I have never understood why this bothers readers as much as does. Life is full of coincidences, so it I not as though we have no experience of them ourselves. Besides, I would argue that, flawed or not, the plot is tremendously gripping and moving. Superficially, Le Grand Meaulnes is a kind of fast-paced mystery novel.
When he does return, he fails to provide an explanation, seems distracted and aloof, and appears to be working on some sort of map. Naturally, if one has not read the book before, all of this is intriguing. Where has Meaulnes been?
What is the map for? What happened to him? Whatever the boy experienced clearly had a profound effect upon him and one is eager for an explanation.
He infiltrates the party and subsequently meets a beautiful girl, Yvonne. Now, what is so brilliant about this idea is that, for a novel about adolescence and adolescents, it actually taps into so many popular, seemingly immortal and universal, aspects of adolescent fantasy, such as the idea of getting lost, the prospect of discovering some magical place hitherto unknown, the opportunity to pretend to be someone other than yourself and, in the process, meeting a beautiful girl [or boy, depending on your preference, of course] with whom you fall in love.
However, to give the impression that Le Grand Meaulnes is nothing more than a kind of teenage fantasy or fairy-tale, or even a pacey mystery, is to undersell it.
It is important to remember that Francois, from some distance in years, in narrating the tale, is, with fondness and some sorrow, looking back to his own childhood. Indeed, he admits within the first couple of pages that his memories are somewhat confused or have, in a way, merged, so that what may have been numerous days or experiences seem like, have become, only one. I think this is subtly profound writing, because it is exactly how memory works — memories do not come to you in a linear fashion, as a straightforward or precise narrative; days do not follow in sequence; and so what you remember is likely to be an amalgamation of various memories or days.
Moreover, one sometimes cannot help but place important people in places where they cannot have been, or one feels their presence hanging over certain incidents that they were not part of.
Bearing this in mind, one could see the lost domain as not only a real, physical place, but as childhood itself. This is given further weight when one considers that the domain was characterised by a kind of gaiety or freedom, and was full of children who, on at least one of the days, were in sole charge.
Throughout the book both the older Francois and the young Meaulnes are trying to recapture something ephemeral, something that therefore cannot be recaptured. I am speaking of a far-away time - a vanished happiness. It fell to me to befriend, to console with whatever words I could find, one who had been the fairy, the princess, the mysterious love-dream of our adolescence.
It is telling, for me, that Meaulnes, once he and Yvonne are reunited, feels deflated or disappointed and actually leaves at the first opportunity. To return to Nicole and my introduction, like me it was not the woman that he wanted, but how she made him feel, what she was part of.
It does not, except in the most vague or rudimentary fashion, align with my memory of it.
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