Malevil is a 1972 science fiction novel by French writer Robert Merle. It was adapted into a 1981 film directed by Christian de Chalonge and starring Michel Serrault, Jacques Dutronc, Jacques Villeret and Jean-Louis Trintignant.
The story's events take place in rural France in the late twentieth century. The protagonist is Emanuel Comte, former school director, now turned farmer and landowner. He is also an owner of a tourist attraction - an old castle called Malevil after the nearby village. Comte is a highly motivated, well-respected person with a talent for diplomacy and leadership.
By chance, Emanuel and several of his friends find themselves in the wine cellar of the castle during the unexpected outbreak of nuclear war. The survivors find their surroundings reduced to ashes and rubble. Together under the leadership of Emanuel they start to rebuild. They later discover that other people and animals have survived in nearby farmsteads and villages. Nature begins anew and an agrarian society starts to reform. From time to time more survivors show up, some bringing death and destruction with them.
One of the main challenges of the slowly emerging society is to fend off the threat of a new theocratic dictatorship that has taken over a neighboring village with the assistance of a marauding gang.
- Wolfe, Gary K. Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature. ISBN 978-0819569370.
In Merle’s MaleviI, following the holocaust of nuclear chain-reactions, the rationalistic communal life of Malevil castle under the direction of Emmanuel Comte comes into conflict with an oppressive theocracy imposed on a neighboring village by the hypocritical false priest Fulbert le Naud. The ensuing struggle for supremacy not only validates the humanism of Malevil’s system, but also indirectly validates the need for technology, since the struggle convinces the inhabitants of Malevil that they must begin research into the reinvention of weapons in order to protect their interests and values—despite their acute awareness of what the technology of weaponry can ultimately lead to.
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