Alain-Fournier, 1886-1914, French novelist, whose real name was Henri Alban Fournier. He was killed in action during World War I. His single full-length work is his poetic novel about a youthful search for the ideal, Le Grand Meaulnes (1913, tr. The Wanderer, 1928). Set in an imaginary locale called "the domain," it is based partly on Alain-Fournier's own childhood and partly on his mystical experiences and ideas. Its distinctiveness lies in its delicate blend of symbolism and realism.

Alain-Fournier was the pseudonym of Henri Alban-Fournier (October 3, 1886September 22, 1914), a French author and soldier. He was the author of a single novel, Le Grand Meaulnes (1913), which has been twice filmed and is considered a classic of French literature.


Alain-Fournier was born in La Chapelle-d'Angillon, in the Cher département, in central France, the son of a school teacher. He studied at the Lycée Lakanal in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris, where he prepared for the entrance examination to the École Normale Supérieure, but without success. He then studied at the merchant marine school in Brest.

From 1908 to 1909, he performed his military service. He returned to Paris in 1910 and became a literary critic, writing for the Paris Journal. There he met André Gide and Paul Claudel.

From 1910 to 1912, while working as the personal assistant of the politician Casimir Perrier, Alain-Fournier worked on his novel, Le Grand Meaulnes, based on a number of different episodes and real persons in the author's life. The novel was published in 1913, first in the Nouvelle Revue Française, and then as a book. Le Grand Meaulnes was nominated for, but did not win, the Goncourt Prize. It is available in English in a widely-admired 1959 translation by Frank Davison for Oxford University Press.

In 1914, Alain-Fournier started work on a second novel, Colombe Blanchet, but this remained unfinished when he joined the army in August. He died fighting near Vaux-lès-Palameix (Meuse) one month later. His body remained unidentified until 1991, at which time he was interred in the cemetery of Saint Remy la Colonne.

Most of the writing of Alain-Fournier was published posthumously: Les Miracles (a volume of poems and essays) in 1924, his correspondence with the writer and critic Jacques Rivière in 1926 and his letters to his family in 1930. His notes and sketches for Colombe Blanchet have also been published.


See also

  • Nançay and the Loire Valley, widely thought to be the inspiration for the setting for Le Grand Meaulnes.

Albin Schram manuscripts

A correpondance between Alain-Fournier and an unidentified woman was found in the Albin Schram Collection. It is a grateful letter for her introduction to Monsieur Hébrard and refers to his next work:

Il m'a proposé pour le Temps ce qu'il était le plus logique de me proposer: lui apporter mon prochain roman ... Ce second roman est, pour l'instant un peu retardé par une nouvelle oeuvre qui s'est mise au travers de ma route ... Mais j'espère bien avant la fin de l'année avoir terminé Colombe Blanchet.


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