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Honest Lies

Michael Wood: Jean Giono, 27 July 2023

by Jean Giono, translated by Bill Johnston.
Archipelago, 171 pp., £12.99, September 2021, 978 1 953861 12 2
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The Open Road 
by Jean Giono, translated by Paul Eprile.
NYRB, 212 pp., £13.99, October 2021, 978 1 68137 510 6
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A King Alone 
by Jean Giono, translated by Alyson Waters.
NYRB, 155 pp., £14.99, June 2021, 978 1 68137 309 6
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... Jean Giono​ was closely associated with Provence. He lived there his whole life (1895-1970), scarcely travelling anywhere else. It was the setting of his many novels, and he wrote regularly of local geography and weather. And yet Walter Redfern could say, in 2010, that Giono was ‘not a regional novelist ...

Mountain Novel, Hitler Novel

D.A.N. Jones, 1 October 1987

The Spell 
by Hermann Broch, translated by H.F. Broch de Rothermann.
Deutsch, 391 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 233 98049 0
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Hermann Broch: A Biography 
by Paul Michael Lützeler, translated by Janice Furness.
Quartet, 329 pp., £25, June 1987, 0 7043 2604 3
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... no other title. All his friends called it the Bergroman. He was very much under the impression of Jean Giono then. I don’t think it would be wrong to say that he regarded him as a kind of unattainable model for his book.’ This is interesting, for we think of Giono as an anti-intellectual writer, revering the soil ...

Fumbling for the Towel

Christopher Prendergast: Maigret’s elevation to the Panthéon, 7 July 2005

Romans: Tome I 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1493 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011674 3
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Romans: Tome II 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1736 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011675 1
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... and Bataille (an odd alignment, all things considered); Pierre de Boisdeffre placed him with Jean Giono, Céline and Queneau. This will doubtless come as some surprise to those for whom Simenon means only the Maigret novels. In fact, of the 192 novels he published under his own name, 75 were romans policiers and the other 117 what he called ...

Textual Intercourse

Claude Rawson, 6 February 1986

The Name of Action: Critical Essays 
by John Fraser.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, December 1984, 0 521 25876 6
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... and definition. He is much given to the inclusive ‘like’: ‘writers like Lawrence, Jean Giono, George Eliot, Traven, Tolstoy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and, of course, Sturt’. The ‘of course’ is part of a bullying knowingness that never lets up. If you don’t believe me, turn to page 69, where you will find all the following ...

Aux sports, citoyens

Douglas Johnson, 3 December 1981

Sport and Society in Modern France 
by Richard Holt.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £20, July 1981, 0 333 25951 3
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... his subject. I can recall one Christmas, when I was a student in Paris, being invited to call on Jean Giono at his home in Manosque. There I met the cyclist, Fachleitner, who had just come second in the Tour de France (and it was whispered that, had he wished, he could have been the winner). Afterwards, when I told my fellow students (self-professed ...

Writing Absurdity

Adam Shatz: Chester Himes, 26 April 2018

Chester B. Himes: A Biography 
by Lawrence P. Jackson.
Norton, 606 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 393 06389 9
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... he befriended a thief called Benny Barnett, who taught him to steal cars and introduced him to Jean Lucinda Johnson, a precocious 16-year-old whose ‘skin was the warm reddish brown of a perfectly roasted turkey breast the moment it comes from the oven’. She would become his first wife. Himes quit college at 17, and began to pack a .44 calibre ...

En famille

Douglas Johnson, 16 August 1990

Little Gregory 
by Charles Penwarden.
Fourth Estate, 247 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 1 872180 31 0
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... murder of Sir Jack Drummond and his family, at Lurs, in the Basses-Alpes, which revealed, as in a Giono novel, the unusual lives of the Dominici family, le clan Dominici. There were the activities of Marie Besnard, la bonne dame de Loudun, who fed arsenic to some thirteen relatives (but whose guilt was cast in doubt when it was discovered that one of the ...

Too Much Gide

Douglas Johnson: French writers (1940-53), 15 November 2001

La Guerre des écrivains 1940-53 
by Gisèle Sapiro.
Fayard, 807 pp., frs 220, September 1999, 2 213 60211 5
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Correspondance: Marcel Arland – Jean Paulhan 1936-45 
edited by Jean-Jacques Didier.
Gallimard, 397 pp., frs 140, March 2000, 2 07 075789 7
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Dialogue des ‘vaincus’: Prison de Clairvaux, janvier-décembre 1950 
by Lucien Rebatet and Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, edited by Robert Belot.
Berg, 285 pp., frs 120, March 2000, 2 911289 22 6
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The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 320 pp., £9.50, December 2000, 0 226 42415 4
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... took further issue with each other. One of the figures with whom she’s most concerned, Jean Paulhan, the editor of the Nouvelle Revue française before the Occupation, exchanged letters during this period with his friend and fellow author, Marcel Arland, and this correspondence has now been published. Many of the letters are very short, and merely ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... had been for a time his secretary); Orwells with Sitwells; the new Continental heavyweights like Giono, Sartre and Camus with snugly parochial English eccentrics. It inaugurated a new society of letters, open and unstuffy, which in a sense still continues. Interest in it revives too, as is shown by this excellent book by a young man who was born in the ...

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