A Dream of Boyhood
The novel has sometimes been compared to James Barrie’s Peter Pan, and there are obvious parallels; in both books there are boys who are either unwilling or unable fully to grow up. However, this is not a book for children: far from it. The magic here lies in the narrative and its setting, the lyricism of the writing, and the delicate relationship of aspirations to actuality. The fabulous fête, as its author explained, is set within ‘a really quite simple story which could very well be my own’. Like Seurel, he grew up in a small country school run by his father. Like Meaulnes, he rebelled against the boredom of learning by rote, the endless preparation for tests and exams. Like Frantz, he was impetuous and romantic, having many short-lived affairs before being reported missing while on patrol near Verdun.