Henri-Alban Fournier Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Alain-Fournier (ah-lan fewrn-yay), born Henri-Alban Fournier at La Chapelle-d’Angillon on October 3, 1886, spent a pleasant childhood and went to school in Brest, Bourges, and Paris. It was the school at Brest that served as part of the setting for his famous novel, The Wanderer. This minor masterpiece, based partly on Alain-Fournier’s own life and partly on a loose reconstruction of the life of English poet John Keats, tells of the attempt of a young schoolboy to discover through the haze of experience what is philosophically and psychologically real. Alain-Fournier himself was a symbolist, strongly influenced by the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire. In his novel he was, in part, all of his characters, splitting himself into different types in order to discover some identity and meaning in experience through a symbolic and poetic prose. Philosophically, he was strongly influenced by the work of Henri Bergson.{$S[A]Fournier, Henri-Alban;Alain-Fournier}

After he left school, Alain-Fournier wrote for various contemporary journals in Paris before World War I. The Wanderer was well received upon its publication in 1913, and Alain-Fournier’s death in an early skirmish of the war was widely mourned. After the war his novel was to have a profound influence on young French writers who found in Alain-Fournier’s style a fierce and delicate instrument with which to trace the wanderings of the spirit toward reality. Miracles, a collection of Alain-Fournier’s poems and eleven of his short stories dealing with his life in Paris, all written between 1905 and 1911, was published posthumously by his friend and brother-in-law Jacques Rivière in 1924.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Henri-Alban Fournier (Alain-Fournier is a partial pseudonym) was born October 3, 1886, at La Chapelle-d’ Angillon. After a childhood passed in Sologne and the Bas-Berry, where his parents were schoolteachers, he began his secondary education in Paris and then prepared in Brest for entry into the École Novale. Unable to suppress a passionate attachment to the countryside of his childhood, he returned closer to home and enrolled in a course of philosophical studies at Bourges. He subsequently attended the Lycée Lakanal at Sceaux, where he met and developed a profound friendship with the future editor of the Nouvelle Revue française, Jacques Rivière; in 1909, Rivière married Alain-Fournier’s younger sister, Isabelle.

Together, Alain-Fournier and Rivière dedicated themselves to the study, evaluation, and analysis of the contemporary arts: painting, music (especially the music of Claude Debussy), and, above all, literature. They were among the first to discover and celebrate those writers destined to become the acknowledged masters of twentieth century French literature, including Paul Claudel, Charles-Pierre Péguy, and Gide.

On Ascension Day of June, 1905, while leaving an exhibition of contemporary art in Paris, Alain-Fournier encountered the woman whom he subsequently transformed into the heroine of The Wanderer, Yvonne de Galais. Yvonne de Quièvrecourt (her real name) was the daughter of a French naval officer and,...

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