For over half a century, Robert Gibson has published extensively on Alain-Fournier's life and work and is now acknowledged as the leading authority on this subject in the English-speaking world. His previous book on Fournier, The Land Without a Name, was widely praised. In the thirty years since this was published, much new material has come to light. This includes biographical and photographic material about the two great loves of Fournier's life, the hitherto elusive Yvonne de Quievrecourt and 'Simone', the leading boulevard actress of her day; a host of letters to and from Fournier's friends and fellow-writers; a substantial compilation of his work as a prolific literary gossip columnist; the complete drafts of his second novel and the plays left unfinished when he went off to the war in 1914; and, finally, his body, unearthed in the woods near Verdun where it had lain undetected for three-quarters of a century.
In the light of all this, Gibson now provides a re-appraisal of Fournier's complex love-life, his undervalued career as a journalist, a re-examination of the long and complicated genesis of Le Grand Mealnes, the fullest analysis in any language of all his poetry and prose together with an authoritative overview of the remarkable range of critical interpretations to which his haunting masterpiece has been subject. The result is a compelling piece of literary detective-work and a human story sensitively and movingly told. Lavishly illustrated, this is a book which will appeal both to the serious scholar and the general reader.