Michelle Bailat-Jones

Writer, Translator, Reader

My mother-in-law passed me a Jean Giono novel a few weeks ago, and I realized it’s probably the fourth she’s brought to my attention. For various reasons, and much to my embarrassment, I’ve never actually read any of them. But yesterday, I finished some work and was waiting for Mlle. Petitvore to wake up, so I started the first few pages. Giono has a lovely style, full of sounds to parallel his images, and careful, rolling sentences. This particular novel, Le Grand Troupeau (To the Slaughterhouse) from 1931, is a war novel, and it describes how war involves everyone, not only the men at the front. Giono was a fervent pacifist, and his disgust of war is a palpable element of the book.

I’m curious if any of you have read Jean Giono…I’d love some recommendations. He has a large oeuvre, over thirty novels and novellas. And I learned (thank you Wikipedia) that he was inspired by Balzac to write a series of ten novels similar to La Comédie Humaine. Unfortunately, he never finished the project, but there are four, maybe five novels that fall into the category. Could be interesting companion reads as I start digging deeper in Balzac.

And of all things, I have glimmerings of a war-novel project in mind. Not to start this year, of course, but it would be fascinating (perhaps a bit grim, however) to put together a number of “war” writers and begin a tour through that aspect of literature…Pat Barker, Jean Giono, Hemingway. Something to think about.

5 Responses to “Jean Giono and other thoughts”

  1. Em

    I read a bit of Giono when I was younger. I’m pretty sure we must have studied some extracts in school and I read Regain; I might have read others but that was a long time ago and I don’t really remember so I can’t suggest anything, sorry… His name evokes smells of countryside, am I right?

  2. Amateur Reader

    I’ve only seen a movie – the 1995 “The Horseman on the Roof,” with Juliette Binoche and Olivier Martinez. Wonderful, basically.

    Many of his books have been brought into English, mostly published by small presses.

  3. Charlotte

    J’adore Giono, même si je n’en ai pas lu beaucoup… Les Âmes fortes, ma plus récente lecture, m’a laissé une impression un peu plus mitigée que ses autres romans (Regain, Un de Baumugnes, Le Hussard sur le toit) que j’ai lus et que je recommande sans aucune réserve ! Ils sont un peu plus simples, mais d’une vitalité merveilleuse.
    (oops, wrote the whole thing in French before realizing… I’m sure you’ll understand, but my apologies to your non French-speaking readers!)

  4. Smithereens

    I would suggest Le Hussard sur le toit as well. I’ve read a lot of Giono but everything is mixed up in my memory. I have to be in a romantic, exalted mood for nature and Provence to appreciate him. Sometimes I’m too much of a city girl for him! 😉

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