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Jane, one of our members, read this book in her AFW literature class this semester. She recommends it, as well as a website where you can
find hundreds of other classic French books for free.
“We read Alain Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes in class this semester and loved it! [It] is a coming-of-age novel, set in rural France in the 1890s. The narrative turns on the friendship between the bookish François Seurel, who lives in a school run by his parents, and the high-spirited Augustin Meaulnes, who bursts on the scene as a boarder at the school. In charting their adventures, Alain Fournier beautifully evokes the time and the place and the as yet unspoiled natural environment of the Sologne region.”
This novel was published in 1913 and has been very popular in France and England. It is Alain Fournier’s most famous novel, as he died young during World War I, and it is considered as being part of late Romanticism. It is a story about adolescence, seen as a complicated mix between the nostalgia of childhood, and the new issues that adulthood brings. This book can be read by adults, but also teenagers, as it is often studied at the secondary school level.
If you are an AFW member, you have free access to Culturethèque, our Digital Library, where you can find an abridged
version of "Le Grand Meaulnes". It is aimed at A2-level individuals and has only 1100 words. It is an excellent way to read French
classic books, even if you don’t have a high level of French! Here, you can also find activities around the book, vocabulary, and
pictures. You can read, but also listen to the audio recording of the book, told slowly, with music and sound effects.
The original version of the novel is also available on Culturethèque, however it is only downloadable in an “epub”
You can also find the whole book online for free, on Project Gutenberg, a website recommended by Jane:
“The book can be downloaded without charge on the Project Gutenberg site, which also provides access to hundreds of other French classics. You don’t even need a password for this site. Check it out!...[It] has excellent texts—high quality, downloadable, and totally free.”
"Le Grand Meaulnes" on Project Gutenberg:
Find on this website other books by Balzac, Baudelaire, Stendhal, Colette, Daudet, the two Dumas, Flaubert, Maupassant, Proust, Zola, etc. You can even choose to read the books online!
Project Gutenberg main page:
If you prefer reading books over eBooks, you can use AmazonSmile to order the books we recommend, while supporting us. When you order from
AmazonSmile, they donate to us at no extra cost! Find the banner at the bottom right-hand corner of this article to add us as your
Take care of yourself, and enjoy French and Francophone literature!