le grand meaulnes + le perroquet vert

update: by some other great stroke of luck, the house we rented with friends recently had this green parrot as the central feature of the living room! and remember all those other parrot links i put up like 6 months ago? am i being told by the fates to get a parrot?!

by some great stroke of luck i stumbled upon these two books in the past year; they've left such an impression on me, and are kindred spirits of sorts, that i just continue reading them over and over again. while i can't say they are 'happy' books, by any stretch, they are evocative of certain kind of childhood pleasure + wonder; one that is often, but not necessarily, lost in adulthood.

one of my favorite english classes in high school was called coming of age. we read "rich in love", josephine humphreys' sensitive novel about a 'precociously perceptive' 17 year old, faulkner's classic coming of age short story "the bear", and da-dum, the obvious choice of joyce's "a portrait of an artist as a young man". while all of these choices felt remarkably apt to my teenage self, in retrospect i wish we had also included "le grand meaulnes", primarily because i've never read a book that does a better job of showing, instead of just extrapolating on, the chasm that exists between childhood and adulthood. all the pieces i read in high school were self-consciously engaged in writing about the 'coming-of-age' process, "le grand meaulnes" only intention is to tell a simple, heart-aching, children's story through the adventure of a sheltered french schoolboy and his impulsive friend.

and yet, the irreparable way that expansive sense of wonder, possibility -magic even- you feel as a child dissolves into resignation and grief has never been told more poignantly. i don't know if i would have been able to appreciate this book as a teenager, but as someone well past the last gasps of childhood, i admire it's honesty, and am inspired to maintain some of that childhood wonder still. this lovely review does a great job summarizing the book's particular spell.

any book written by a princess is at least worth a first look; what compels someone so coddled to expose herself through the written word? certainly for princess marthe bibesco her circle of friends may have had something to do with it- proust, rilke, and gorki among them. "the green parrot", despite its innocuous name, is a book about loss, childhood innocence, and the redemptive power of love, sparsely told in three short sections. through the magic of google book search, you can actually read the book in its entirety online, but make sure you can at least curl up with the computer, brew a cup of tea, and use two cats as your blanket while reading. it makes the experience all the more pleasurable.
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