The Solitude of Compassion, a collection of short stories never before available in English, won popular acclaim when it was originally published in France in 1932. It tells of small-town life in Provence, drawing on a whole village of fictional characters, often warm and decent, at times immoral and coarse. Giono writes of a friendship forged in a battlefield trench in the midst of World War I; an old man’s discovery of the song of the world; and, in the title story, the not-unrelated feelings of compassion and ...
The Solitude of Compassion, a collection of short stories never before available in English, won popular acclaim when it was originally published in France in 1932. It tells of small-town life in Provence, drawing on a whole village of fictional characters, often warm and decent, at times immoral and coarse. Giono writes of a friendship forged in a battlefield trench in the midst of World War I; an old man’s discovery of the song of the world; and, in the title story, the not-unrelated feelings of compassion and pity. In these twenty stories, Giono reveals his marvelous storytelling through his vivid images and lyrical prose, whether he is conveying the delicate scents of lavender and pine trees or the smells of damp earth and fresh blood.
Probably best known to American audiences as the author of the fable The Man Who Planted Trees, the animation of which won a 1987 Academy Award, the Provental Giono (1895-1970) is one of the most respected and original modern French writers. First published in 1932, these 20 stories, appearing for the first time in English, present a delightful treat for readers unfamiliar with his work, similar in feel to his Second Harvest. Most of these narrations are not stories in the traditional sense but rather a combination of skeletal plot with structured musings or essays that expound upon Giono's typical themes; some are so short they're merely sketches. Giono's obsession with the natural element appears in not only the bucolic settings and pastoral themes but also the titles themselves, e.g., "Fields" and "The Sheep." His pacifist stance is made manifest in "Ivan Ivanovitch Kossiakoff," while his plea for ecology in "Song of the World" ("We do not want to isolate man. The face of the earth is in his heart") is as relevant today as when it was first written. These stories are a throwback to a simpler place and time, when through communion with nature Giono sought to evade the harsh realities of his time. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Twenty stories in a first English translation, by the celebrated French novelist (Second Harvest, 1999, etc.), with an introduction by Henry Miller, in his day a fierce admirer. Provence-born Giono (1895–1970) is probably best known in the US for his story "The Baker’s Wife," made into a film in the 1930s. Although most of the pieces here, first published in France in 1932, are set in the hamlets and countryside of Provence, they bring us into a world that is dark, spiteful, and lugubrious: a world of hard-hearted peasants bent on squeezing the life out of their neighbors much as they squeeze oil from their olives. In the title story, for example, two starving vagrants climb down into a dangerously ramshackle well to repair a parish priest’s water pump—only to be reimbursed with less money than it cost them to take the bus to his village. The poor farmer of "Fields" allows his wife to take in a boarder to make ends meet—and soon discovers that the man is her lover. The blind beggar of "The Hand" describes how he lost his sight inexplicably during a religious procession when he was 20—and how afterwards the village girls would grab his hand unexpectedly and place it down their blouses. In "Annette, or A Family Affair," an old man who years earlier had allowed his niece to be sent to an orphanage when her parents died makes a point of going to visit the man who has hired her to work in his shop—so as to warn him that she grew up among bad characters and may be dishonest. Even the father of the bride is unable to work up much in the way of generosity: In "Philemon," a man makes his daughter slaughter one of his pigs on the way to her own marriage. Small offerings from a master. LikeFaulkner, Giono takes us into an unpleasant world shot through with strange and unexpected beauty.
JEAN GIONO (1895–1970) was born in Manosque, Provence, the son of a shoemaker and a washerwoman. A widely loved figure in his native France, he is the author of many books, the best known of which, perhaps, are Song of the World and Horseman on the Roof. He was awarded the Prize of Prince Rainier of Monaco for his body of work in 1953, became a member of the Académie Goncourt in 1954, and accepted a seat on the Literary Counsel of Monaco in 1963. Except for a few trips to Paris and abroad, Giono spent his entire life in his town in Provence.