Michel Tournier  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Michel Tournier (19 December 1924 − 18 January 2016) was a French writer. He has won awards such as the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1967 for Friday, or, The Other Island and the Prix Goncourt for The Erl-King in 1970. His inspirations include traditional German culture, Catholicism, and the philosophies of Gaston Bachelard. He lived in Choisel and was a member of the Académie Goncourt. His autobiography has been translated and published as The Wind Spirit (Beacon Press, 1988). He had been named as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Born in Paris of parents who met at the Sorbonne while studying German, Tournier spent his youth in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He learned German early, staying each summer in Germany. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and at the university of Tübingen and attended Maurice de Gandillac's course. He wished to teach philosophy at high-school but, like his father, failed to obtain the French agrégation.

Tournier joined Radio France as a journalist and translator and hosted L'heure de la culture française. In 1954 he worked in advertisement for Europe 1. He also collaborated for Le Monde and Le Figaro. From 1958 to 1968, Tournier was the chief editor of Plon. In 1967 Tournier published his first book, Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique, a retelling Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, for which he was awarded the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française.

Tournier died on 18 January 2016 in Choisel, France at the age of 91.

Selected works

Le Roi des aulnes was made into a 1996 movie Der Unhold (The Ogre) directed by Volker Schlöndorff
It has also been adapted for the stage by Tom Perrin. This originated as a post-graduate research project at the Mountview Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2002. The show The Erl King was then taken to the 2003 Edinburgh Festival.
  • Les Météores (Gemini, 1975)
  • Le Vent Paraclet (The Wind Spirit, 1977)
  • Vendredi ou la Vie sauvage (Friday and Robinson, 1977)
  • Le Coq de bruyère (The Fetishist and Other Stories, 1978)
  • Gaspard, Melchior et Balthazar (The Four Wise Men, 1980)
  • Le Vol du vampire (1981)
  • Gilles et Jeanne (Gilles and Jeanne, 1983)
  • La Goutte d'or (The Golden Droplet, 1986)
  • Petites Proses (1986)
  • Le Medianoche amoureux (The Midnight Love Feast, 1989)
  • La Couleuvrine (1994)
  • Le Miroir des idées (The Mirror of Ideas, 1994)
  • Eléazar ou la Source et le Buisson (Eleazar, Exodus to the West, 1996)
  • Journal extime (2002)


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Michel Tournier" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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