Robert Merle (28 August 1908 - 28 March
2004) was a French novelist.
Tébessa in French Algeria, he moved to
France in 1918. A professor of English
Literature at several universities, during
World War II Merle was consripted in the
French army and assigned as an interpreter
to the British Expeditionary Force. He
ended up in Dunkerque where he was not
evacuated but captured by the Germans. Merle
used his experiences in his 1949 novel
Week-end at Zuydcoote that won the Prix
Goncourt. It was filmed in 1964.
He has also
written a 13 book series of historical
novels, Fortune de France. Recreating 16th
and 17th century France through the eyes of
a fictitious Protestant doctor turned spy,
he went so far as to write it in the
period's French making it virtually
Un animal doué de la raison (A Sentient
Animal, 1967), a stark Cold War satire
inspired by John Lilly's studies of dolphins
and the Caribbean Crisis, and Malevil
(1972), a post-apocalyptic story, were both
translated into English and filmed, the
former, in 1973, as The Day of the Dolphin.
It starred George C.Scott and had a
screenplay by Buck Henry. It bore very
little resemblance to Merle's story.
He died of
a heart attack at his home La Malmaison in
Grosrouvre near Paris.