An existential detective story by one of France's most popular modern writers, set in a mid-nineteenth century mountain village, available in English for the first time
“The book started off entirely by chance, without even a character. The character was the Tree, the Beech, and the starting point—that was the discovery of a crime: a dead body turns up in the branches of this tree. There was the Tree; there was the victim; an inanimate thing, a corpse. Well, the corpse requires a murderer, that's clear, and the murder requires investigation. What I wrote was a novel about the investigator. That’s what I wanted to write, but it had to start with a tree that had nothing to do with the story at all.”
Such was Jean Giono’s account of how A King Alone came to be. The title alludes to Pascal’s saying “A king without distraction is a man full of wretchedness,” and the book is set in a remote Alpine village in the mid-nineteenth century. At its center is the enigmatic officer Langlois. In deepest winter, the inhabitants of a remote Alpine village mysteriously begin to disappear. Langlois comes from afar to protect the village and investigate the crime. Giono’s novel about a tiny community at the dangerous edge of things and a man of law who is ever more a man alone could be described as a metaphysical Western. It unfolds with the uncanny inevitability and disturbing intensity of a dream.
|Publisher:||New York Review Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Jean Giono (1895–1970) was born and lived most of his life in the town of Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Largely self-educated, he started working as a bank clerk at the age of sixteen and reported for military service when World War I broke out. After the success of Hill, which won the Prix Brentano, he left the bank and began to publish prolifically. During World War II his outspoken pacifism led some to accuse him, unjustly, of defeatism and collaboration with the Nazis. After France’s liberation in 1944, he was imprisoned and held without charges. Despite being blacklisted after his release, Giono continued writing and achieved renewed success. He was elected to the Académie Goncourt in 1954. NYRB Classics publishes Giono’s Hill and Melville.
Alyson Waters has translated several works from the French by Albert Cossery, Louis Aragon, René Belletto, and others. She teaches literary translation in the French department of Yale University and is the managing editor of Yale French Studies. For NYRB Classics, Waters has translated Emmanuel Bove’s HenriDuchemin and His Shadowsand, for The New York Review Children’s Collection, The Tiger Prince by Chen Jiang Hong. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Susan Stewart, the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, is a poet, critic, and translator. A former MacArthur Fellow and Chancellor of the Academy of American poets, she is the author of six books of poems, including Columbarium, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and, most recently, Cinder: New and Selected Poems. Her many prose works include On Longing, Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, The Open Studio: Essays in Art and Aesthetics, The Poet's Freedom. Her forthcoming book The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture will be available from The University of Chicago Press in Fall 2019.