Romain Gary Daniel E. Rivas - Essay

Daniel E. Rivas

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In spite of some biographical overtones, Les Cerfs-Volants is a piece of fiction, not a political or sociological tract, although some critics will inevitably search here for hidden meanings and obscure references that may provide clues to the author's state of mind and whatever motives may have compelled him to end his life.

Les Cerfs-Volants is inscribed into the tradition of the Bildungsroman, which has produced notable examples in French letters. From the point of view of technique, there is nothing revolutionary about this first-person narrative, which recounts the childhood, adolescence, and early adult years of Ludo Fléury…. The story is one of survival and perseverance during the Second World War years, as seen and experienced in a small French rural community.

Within the relatively uncomplicated and linear plot scheme of encounter, separation, and final reunion of the two main protagonists are woven a number of themes that support the broad structure of the novel. Of these, the conflict between reality and imagination figures most prominently. It allows Gary to explore the often complex psychology of his characters and to expose them in their relationship with their own selves, other people, and events. This is where Gary is definitely at his best…. (p. 156)

Daniel E. Rivas, "Reviews: 'Les cerfs-volants'," in The French Review (copyright 1981 by the American Association of Teachers of French), Vol. LV, No. 1, October, 1981, pp. 156-57.