Jean Giono’s Hidden Reality

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“Edward Ford is engaged in a literary adventure…..he makes use of his ability to read fifteen languages to study the classics of European literature. Ford loves literature and this shines through in his writing which is both intellectual and heartfelt. [This] is Ford’s third book and it breaks new ground. A tightly argued treatise, it demonstrates that throughout his career, Jean Giono believed that true reality was hidden behind appearances. “ – Dr. Lewis J. Overaker, Holderness School

“Details of interpretation aside, Ford convincingly shows that Giono’s work has a strong thematic continuity as a literary quest for faith, and that he draws on several different theological traditions. This is an original contribution to the existing scholarship on Giono and makes the book a worthwhile read. In the same vein, Ford offers an explication and defense of Giono’s controversial writings during World War II. Since his imprisonment at the end of the war, Giono has been labeled as a tacit supporter of the Vichy government’s collaborationist policies, and Ford discounts that view through a reading of what he calls Giono’s “literary resistance”—namely Triomphe de la vie and Eau vive. In so doing Ford builds on the prior research of several French critics, most notably Pierre Citron.

I must say that Ford’s translation of “The Slave,” an enigmatic and charming short story from 1924, was my favorite part of the book. It serves as a concrete, early-career illustration of the “magical realism” that Giono would go on to cultivate in his later work. I actually read the story twice and enjoyed it even more the second time. The character of the stodgy, emotionally repressed petty bureaucrat obsessed with the practical details of life contrasts perfectly with the nymph-like, golden-haired beauty on the Harley Davidson motorcycle who roars into his life, excites romance in him for this first time, then mysteriously disappears after he represses that impulse. At the end of the story the reader shares the bureaucrat’s puzzlement: was the woman real, or just a figment of his unconscious longing for a life of excitement and passion that he does not have the courage to pursue? In that sense the story can be regarded as a modern-day fairy tale meant to teach the notoriously conservative French bourgeoisie (and all other readers) a lesson in how life should be lived.

In sum, I wholeheartedly recommend the book…. It will be a useful contribution to scholarship on Giono, accessible to specialist and non-specialists alike.” - Brett Bowles, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of French

Table of Contents

Preface, Acknowledgments
1. The Man and the Critics
2. Hidden Reality
3. Naissance de l’Odyssée
4. Colline
5. Un Des Baumugnes
6. Regain
7. Solitude de la pitié
8. Le Grand troupeau
9. Jean le Bleu
10. Le Chant du monde
11. Que ma joie demeure
12. Batailles dans la montagne
13. Pour saluer Melville
14. Giono’s Literary Resistance
15. Un Roi sans divertissement
16. Noé
17. Fragments d’un Paradis
18. The Hussard Cycle
19. Late Fiction
20. Conclusion
21. The Slave
Works Cited

Other France/French: All Subjects Books

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