Jean Giono
Jean Giono was a French author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 who wrote works of fiction set in the Provence region of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...


First period

He was born to a family of modest means, his father a cobbler and his mother a laundry woman. He spent the majority of his life in Manosque
Manosque is the largest town and commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in southeastern France. However, it is not the préfecture of the département, which resides in the smaller town of Digne-les-Bains...

, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is a French department in the south of France, it was formerly part of the province of Provence.- History :Nord-de-Provence was one of the 83 original departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790...

. Forced by family needs to leave school at the age of sixteen and get a job in a bank, he nevertheless continued to read voraciously, in particular the great classic works of literature including the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, the works of Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, and the Tragiques of Agrippa d'Aubigné
Agrippa d'Aubigné
Théodore-Agrippa d'Aubigné was a French poet, soldier, propagandist and chronicler. His epic poem Les Tragiques is widely regarded as his masterpiece.-Life:...

. He continued to work at the bank until he was called up for military service at the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and the horrors he experienced on the front lines turned him into a lifelong and ardent pacifist. In 1919, he returned to the bank, and a year later, married a childhood friend with whom he had two children. Following the success of his first novel, Colline (1929), he left the bank in 1930 to dedicate himself to writing on a full-time basis.

Colline was followed by two more novels heavily influenced by Virgil and Homer, Un de Baumugnes (1929) and Regain (1930), the three together comprising the famous “Pan Trilogy”, so-called because in it Giono depicts the natural world as being imbued with the power of the Greek god Pan
Pan (mythology)
Pan , in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein , meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs,...

. The other novels Giono published during the nineteen-thirties on the whole continued in the same vein, set in Provence, with peasants as protagonists, and displaying a pantheistic
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 view of nature. Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. In 1946, he became the first filmmaker elected to the Académie Française.-Biography:...

 based three of his films on Giono’s work of this period: Regain, with Fernandel
Fernand Joseph Désiré Contandin , better known as Fernandel, was a French actor and singer. Born in Marseille, France, he was a comedy star who first gained popularity in French vaudeville, operettas, and music-hall revues...

 and music by Honegger, Angèle, and La Femme du boulanger, with Raimu
Raimu was the stage name for the French actor Jules Auguste Muraire .-Biography:Born in Toulon in the Var département, he made his stage debut there in 1899. After coming to the attention of the then great music hall star Félix Mayol who was also from Toulon, in 1908 he was given a chance to work...


Throughout the nineteen-thirties, Giono was also expressing the pacifism he had adopted as a result of his experiences during World War I in novels such as Le grand troupeau (1931), and pamphlets such as Refus d’obéissance (1937), and the Lettre aux paysans sur la pauvreté et la paix (1938). This in turn resulted in his forming a relationship with a group of like-minded people including Lucien Jacques and Henri Fluchère
Henri Fluchère
Henri Fluchère was a chairman of the Société Française Shakespeare and a notable literary critic. He played an important role in the establishment of an Elizabethan research centre in Aix-en-Provence and contributed to the Golden Guides series a volume on wines. He was also responsible for the...

 among others, who gathered each year in the hamlet of Contadour, and whose pacifist writings were published as the Cahiers du Contadour.


The end of the decade, however, brought a crisis in Giono’s life. As far as his writing was concerned, he had come to feel that it was time to stop “doing Giono” (faire du Giono), and to take his work in a new direction. At the same time it was becoming apparent that his work for pacifism was a failure, and that another war was inevitable and fast approaching. Ironically, the declaration of war on September 1, 1939 came while the Contadoureans were assembled for their annual reunion. The result of Giono’s former peace-making efforts was that he was briefly and unjustly imprisoned as a nazi sympathiser, the proceedings being stopped without any charges.

The subsequent period of renewal saw the self-educated Giono now turn to Stendhal
Marie-Henri Beyle , better known by his pen name Stendhal, was a 19th-century French writer. Known for his acute analysis of his characters' psychology, he is considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism in his two novels Le Rouge et le Noir and La Chartreuse de Parme...

 as a literary model in the same way as previously he had been influenced by the Classics. His novels thus begin to be set in a specific time and place, confronting the protagonists with specific politics, issues, causes and events, in contrast with the timelessness of his earlier work. He also adopted the Stendhalian narrative technique of letting the reader into the experience of the protagonist by means of the interior monologue, whereas the dominant technique of his earlier novels had been that of the omniscient narrator.

He similarly formed the ambition of writing a sequence of ten novels inspired by Balzac’s Comédie humaine
La Comédie humaine
La Comédie humaine is the title of Honoré de Balzac's multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories depicting French society in the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy .-Overview:...

, in which he would depict characters from all strata of society rather than peasants, and compare and contrast different moments in history by depicting the experiences of members of the same family in times a hundred years apart. This project was never realised, with only the four Hussard novels, (Angélo (1958), Le Hussard sur le Toit (1951), Le Bonheur fou (1957), Mort d’un personnage (1948)) actually completed according to plan, but it is echoed in Giono’s postwar work in the dichotomy between historical novels set in the mid-nineteenth century, and contemporary novels set in the mid-twentieth. His newfound interest in history even led to his writing an actual history book, Le Désastre de Pavie (1963).

As he began to focus on the human being rather than the natural world, his understanding of psychology and motivation was also influenced by the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

, whose analysis helped him to articulate a much darker view of human nature in his later years, and about whom he wrote the article Monsieur Machiavel, ou le coeur humain dévoilé (1951).

In 1944, when France was liberated, Giono was again unjustly accused of collaboration with the Nazis, and again imprisoned for five months before he was freed without charges ever having been laid. This led to his being blacklisted, so that for three years he was barred from publication. It was during this period of ostracism that he began in 1945 to write Angelo, metaphorically the laboratory in which he experimented, tested and attempted to integrate his new approach to his work. It contains not only a first version of the story of Angélo Pardi that took its final form in Le Hussard sur le toit and Le Bonheur fou, but also the nucleus of many other works of his second period, and makes use of new narrative techniques he developed further in other novels. He ultimately set it aside, no doubt considering it too derivative, and moved on to the other projects it gave rise to.

Second period

The first major novel of his second period to be published was thus Un Roi sans divertissement (published in 1947, and made into a successful film, for which Giono himself wrote the screenplay, in 1963). It takes the form of a detective story set in Haute Provence in the early nineteenth century, and reveals Giono’s new pessimism about human nature in that the policeman is forced to the realisation that he himself is capable of being as evil as the murderer he is tracking. Stylistically brilliant, it consists of the juxtaposed accounts of events as told by the different people affected, devoid of explanation, from which the reader her or himself must piece together the meaning.

The most famous novel of his second period is Le Hussard sur le toit, the first part of the definitive version of the story of Angélo Pardi he had sketched in Angelo. It was published in 1951, and made into a film by Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Jean-Paul Rappeneau is a French film director, screenwriter, and actor.He started out in film as an assistant and screenwriter collaborating with Louis Malle on Zazie dans le metro in 1960 and Vie privee in 1961...

 starring Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche is a French actress, artist and dancer. She has appeared in more than 40 feature films, been recipient of numerous international accolades, is a published author and has appeared on stage across the world. Coming from an artistic background, she began taking acting lessons during...

 in 1995. Angélo, like Stendhal’s Fabrice del Dongo (La Chartreuse de Parme
The Charterhouse of Parma
The Charterhouse of Parma is a novel published in 1839 by Stendhal.-Plot summary:The Charterhouse of Parma tells the story of the young Italian nobleman Fabrice del Dongo and his adventures from his birth in 1798 to his death...

) on whom he is modelled, is a chivalrous romantic whose quest constitutes an inquiry into the nature of happiness, while the cholera epidemic he finds himself confronted with in Provence in 1832 is an allegory for the wars that had so deeply affected Giono. In structure it is a picaresque series of episodes, full of evocative descriptions of the country. Its sequel, Le Bonheur fou (The Straw Man) (1957) follows Angélo in the Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 of the 1848 revolution
Italian unification
Italian unification was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century...


Les Ames fortes (1950), filmed by Raoul Ruiz
Raoul Ruiz
Raúl Ernesto Ruiz Pino was a Chilean filmmaker.Ruiz spent some years at the Catholic University of Santa Fe, Argentina's cinema school. Back in Chile, he directed his first feature film Tres tristes tigres in the late 1960s, winning the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival...

 in 2001, is another of the masterpieces of this period. As dark as Un Roi sans divertissement, it examines the depths a person can sink to in greed, grasping self-interest and the exploitation of others. Also as in Un Roi sans divertissement, the story is again told purely in the words of the protagonists, without the intervention of a narrator or comment from the author, thus forcing the reader to reach their own conclusions. Les Grands chemins (1951), considerably less dark, deals with the nature of the road, gambling, the lie, and friendship, again in a first-person narration entirely in the voice of the protagonist and devoid of explanation or elucidation from the author.

Also worthy of mention is his Voyage en Italie (1953). Neither a travel guide nor a straightforward account of a trip as the name suggests, this is a highly personal account of Giono’s experiences and of the people he meets and sees that tells the reader more about Giono than about Italy.

Outside France, Giono’s best-known work is probably the short story The Man who Planted Trees
The Man Who Planted Trees
The Man Who Planted Trees , also known as The Story of Elzéard Bouffier, The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met, and The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness, is an allegorical tale by French author Jean Giono, published in 1953.It tells the story of one shepherd's long and successful...

 (and 1987 film
The Man Who Planted Trees (film)
The Man Who Planted Trees is a 1987 Canadian short animated film directed by Frédéric Back. It is based on the story of the same name by Jean Giono...

). This optimistic tale of a man who brings a deserted valley back to life by planting trees reflects Giono’s long-standing love of the natural world, an attitude that made him a precursor to the modern ecological movement. He thus declined to receive any royalties from this text, and granted free use to anyone who wanted to distribute or translate it.

In his later years, Giono was honoured with the Prince Rainier of Monaco
Monaco , officially the Principality of Monaco , is a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by its neighbour, France, and its centre is about from Italy. Its area is with a population of 35,986 as of 2011 and is the most densely populated country in the...

 literary prize in 1953, awarded for his lifetime achievements, was elected to the Académie Goncourt
Académie Goncourt
The Société littéraire des Goncourt , usually called the académie Goncourt , is a French literary organization based in Paris. It was founded by the French writer and publisher Edmond de Goncourt...

 in 1954, and became a member of the Conseil Littéraire of Monaco in 1963.

Giono died of a heart attack in 1970.

Novels, novellas, chronicles

  • Pan: Hill of Destiny (Fr. Colline) – Grasset – 1929
  • Lovers are Never Losers (Fr. Un de Baumugnes) – Grasset – 1929
  • Harvest (Fr. Regain) – Grasset – 1930
  • Naissance de l'Odyssée – Editions Kra - 1930
  • To The Slaughterhouse (Fr. Le Grand Troupeau) – Gallimard - 1931
  • Blue Boy (Fr. Jean le Bleu) – Grasset – 1932
  • Solitude of Compassion (Fr. Solitude de la pitié) – Gallimard 1932
  • The Song of the World (Fr. Le Chant du monde – Gallimard – 1934
  • The Joy of Man's Desiring (Fr. Que ma joie demeure) – Grasset - 1936
  • Batailles dans la montagne – Gallimard - 1937
  • Pour saluer Melville – Gallimard - 1941
  • L'eau vive – Gallimard – 1943 (Rondeur des Jours et l'Oiseau bagué -1973)
  • Un roi sans divertissement – Gallimard – 1947
  • Noé – Editions la Table ronde – 1947
  • Fragments d'un paradis – Déchalotte – 1948
  • Mort d'un personnage – Grasset – 1949
  • Les Âmes fortes – Gallimard – 1949
  • Les Grands Chemins – Gallimard – 1951
  • The Horseman on the Roof
    The Horseman on the Roof (novel)
    The Horseman on the Roof is a 1951 novel written by Jean Giono.It was made into a film of the same name in 1995, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau.-See also :*Le Mondes 100 Books of the Century...

     (Fr. Le Hussard sur le toit) – Gallimard – 1951
  • The Malediction, (Fr. Le Moulin de Pologne) – 1952
  • The Man Who Planted Trees
    The Man Who Planted Trees
    The Man Who Planted Trees , also known as The Story of Elzéard Bouffier, The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met, and The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness, is an allegorical tale by French author Jean Giono, published in 1953.It tells the story of one shepherd's long and successful...

     (Fr. L'homme qui plantait des arbres) – Reader's Digest – 1953
  • The Straw Man (Fr. Le Bonheur fou) – Gallimard – 1957
  • Angelo (Fr. Angelo) – Gallimard – 1958
  • Hortense ou l'Eau vive (avec Jean Allioux) Editions France-Empire – 1958
  • Two Riders on the Storm (Fr. Deux cavaliers de l'orage) – Gallimard - 1965
  • Le Déserteur – René Creux Editeur – 1966 (le Déserteur et autres récits – Gallimard – 1973)
  • Ennemonde: A Novel (Fr. Ennemonde et Autres Caractères) – Gallimard – 1968
  • L'Iris de Suse – Gallimard - 1970
  • Les Récits de la demi-brigade – Gallimard - 1972
  • Faust au village – Gallimard – 1977
  • Le Bestiaire – Ramsay - 1991
  • "Gavino" - Gallimard - 2000

Unfinished novels

  • Angélique – Gallimard - 1980
  • Cœur, Passions, Caractères – Gallimard - 1982
  • Dragoon suivi d'Olympe – Gallimard - 1982

Essays and journalism

  • Présentation de Pan – Grasset - 1930
  • Manosque-des-plateaux – Emile-Paul Frères - 1931
  • Le Serpent d'Etoile – Grasset - 1933
  • Les Vraies Richesses – Grasset - 1936
  • Refus d'obéissance – Gallimard 1937
  • Le Poids du ciel – Gallimard - 1938
  • Lettre aux paysans sur la pauvreté et la paix – Grasset - 1938
  • Précisions – Grasset - 1939
  • Recherche de la pureté – Gallimard - 1939
  • Triomphe de la vie – Ides et Calendes – 1941
  • Voyage en Italie – Gallimard - 1953
  • Notes sur l'affaire Dominici – Gallimard – 1955
  • The Battle of Pavia (Fr. Le Désastre de Pavie) –Gallimard - 1963
  • Les Terrasses de l'Ile dElbe – Gallimard – 1976
  • Les Trois Arbres de Palzem – Gallimard - 1984
  • De Homère à Machiavel – Gallimard – 1986
  • Images d'un jour de pluie et autres récits de jeunesse – Editions Philippe Auzou – 1987
  • La Chasse au Bonheur – Gallimard - 1988
  • Provence – Gallimard – 1993
  • Les Héraclides – Quatuor - 1995
  • De Montluc à la "Série Noire" – Gallimard - 1998


  • Accompagne de la flute – les Cahiers de l'Artisan – 1923
  • La Chute des Anges, Fragment d'un Déluge, Le Cœur-Cerf – Rico – 1969


  • Le bout de la Route – Lanceur de Graines – La Femme du boulanger – Gallimard - 1943
  • Le Voyage en calèche – Éditions du Rocher – 1947. Written during the Second World War, this play was banned under the German occupation of France.
  • Domitien, suivi de Joseph à Dothan – Gallimard – 1959
  • Le Cheval fou – Gallimard - 1974


  • Avec Jean Paulhan – Gallimard - 2000
  • Avec André Gide – Université de Lyon - 1983
  • Avec Jean Guéhenno – Seghers - 1975
  • Avec Lucien Jacques – Gallimard – 1981 et 1983 (2 volumes)


  • Avec Jean Carrière – La Manufacture - 1985
  • Avec Jean et Taos Amrouche – Gallimard – 1990


  • Moby Dick (translation of the Herman Melville novel; with Lucien Jacques and Joan Smith) – Les Cahiers du Contadour - 1939
  • L'expédition d'Humphry Clinker (translation of the Tobias G. Smollet novel; with Catherine d'Ivernois) – Gallimard - 1955

Further reading

  • "Jean Giono: From Pacifism to Collaboration". TELOS
    TELOS (journal)
    Telos is an academic journal published in the United States. It was founded in May 1968 to provide the New Left with a coherent theoretical perspective. It sought to expand the Husserlian diagnosis of "the crisis of European sciences" to prefigure a particular program of social reconstruction...

     139 (Summer 2007). New York: Telos Press
  • Giono. Pierre Citron, 1990
  • Jean Giono et les techniques du roman. Pierre R. Robert, 1961

External links

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