Author Laurel Snyder asked of the blogosphere, "What is your favorite book from childhood?", and following Amy Guth's post on her blog I am now telling you about one of my favorite childhood books: L'Enchanteur by René Barjavel. I think I must have read that book four times. It was one of our French class reading assignment and it luckily came in during my I'm-crazy-about-Arthurian-legend period. I would definitely suggest it to anyone who reads French (I'm afraid it has never been translated into English, please correct me if I'm wrong).
Written in 1984, L'Enchanteur could be seen as yet another novel based on the Arthurian legend, but Barjavel manages to make much more of it. He freely transforms the story into a romance: one between Merlin the Wizard (L'Enchanteur) and the Lady of the Lake Vivian. I still vividly remember the tenderness that links both characters (I can still hear Viviane's soft voice in my head). The main theme remains of course the quest for the Graal, and many other well known heroes appear in the novel: King Arthur, Perceval, Queen Guenièvre and Lancelot, whose love story is also quite powerful in Barjavel's narrative. The author plays a lot with conventions through voluntary anacronysms as well, introducing for instance tin cans and an electric chimney into the medieval story. Nevertheless, the main theme of this magical novel remains LOVE. The love story between kings and queens, knights and queens, between Vivian and Merlin, the Fairy who could see the human in the Wizard.
Photo: Cover of the Paperback edition - Collection FOLIO