Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Finished The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) yesterday.

Meh. It was all right - I didn't really FEEL this one. Supposedly one of France's most revered novels (on a par with The Catcher in the Rye for Americans) - a tale of lost love, lost adolescence, lost innocence.

(SPOILERS) For me, although the imagery of the novel was quite striking, the plot and characters were thinly drawn - and improbable. Why would Meaulnes pursue this girl, whom he had seen only once, for years and years? And why, when he at last found her, and find her willing to return his infatuation, abandon her to pursue righting a wrong that wasn't his to begin with?

I felt very little sympathy for the character of Meaulnes, and found myself getting a bit angry with the narrator, Seurel, for making concessions for Meaulnes' erratic and sometimes selfish behaviour. Seurel, when he meets Yvonne (the object of Meaulnes' obsession), finds her to be a lovely, kind and selfless woman who truly deserves better than the overgrown child she surrenders herself to.

I suppose one could argue that this was a portrayal of teenage impetuousness and the quest to right wrongs - but the misguided sympathies for characters who deserve none undermines that portrayal.

Maybe something was lost in translation, but I found this novel to be a bit of a damp squib. The French would be horrified!

Up next: The Outsider by Albert Camus. A bit of existentialism.

No comments:

Post a Comment