A French novelist, killed in the First World War, and famous for a single work, the haunting and nostalgic novel Le Grand Meaulnes, a kind of idealization and elaboration of his own childhood adventures.
He was born Henri-Alban Fournier in 1886 in the village of La Chapelle-d'Angillon, in the department of Cher in central France. As in the novel, his father was the village schoolmaster. He did military service from 1907 to 1909, worked in journalism thereafter, and published Le Grand Meaulnes in 1913. He was killed in the first Battle of the Marne.
Le grand Meaulnes is a big schoolboy whom the narrator meets and shares adventures with: it has implications of "big Meaulnes", "the great Meaulnes", and "good old Meaulnes", so English translations now usually leave the title alone; however, it has been translated under the titles The Lost Domain and The Wanderer. In his wanderings Meaulnes finds a strange country house at which a party is going on, with a beautiful girl there, with whom he speaks. Later he tries to find this domain again. The novel is actually realistic, but in atmosphere it is enchanted: you half get the impression the girl and her company were the fair folk or ghosts.
Posthumously, some of Alain-Fournier's short stories and poetry were collected as The Miracle; some letters were published, and there was an unfinished novel Colombe Blanchet.