The Little Known Novel That Inspired ‘The Great Gatsby’ and Other Books (The Economist)

The hero of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road carries just one book during his three-year sojourn across America. It is the novel Le Grand Meaulnes, written 100 years ago by French writer Alain-Fournier (Henri Fournier’s pen name). F. Scott Fitzgerald was inspired by its title to copy it for his own The Great Gatsby, and Henry Miller claimed to love the novel’s hero. John Fowles said the book influenced everything he wrote, and he described it as “the greatest novel of adolescence in European literature.”

But despite its enchanting strangeness, beautiful prose and many famous admirers, The Economist warns that Le Grand Meaulnes “is a masterpiece in peril” of being forgotten by English readers.


  1. Justine Blau says:

    I read Le Grand Meaulnes in my youth and it left a big impression. Enchanting is the right word. It epitomizes French charm for me.

  2. Joan Campbell says:

    Check out Le Grand Meaulnes at the HL Library:

  3. Bruce J. Lynskey says:

    I have never read Le Grand Meaulnes but plan to do so now. Fitzgerald is my favorite author of all time. “Gatsby” is one of my ten favorite novels ever, but it is actually eclipsed by Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night” – which is even better, more cerebral than “Gatsby”.

  4. Peter H. Dragonas, 59 says:

    Learning is lifetime. Sometimes we need to go back and cover a basic that was omitted. As an avid reader, I thank you all for helping rebuild the first step! Now to Barnes & Nobles!

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