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Giono: Master of Fictional Modes

Giono: Master of Fictional Modes

Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 312
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    Giono: Master of Fictional Modes
    Book Description:

    Since his death in October 1970, Jean Giono's reputation as a major French novelist has steadily increased. In order to treat most powerfully the essential nature of modern man confronted with the worst problems of the twentieth century, he adapted into prose the tried and true literary modes: the epic, the pastoral, Greek tragedy, Shakespearean tragedy, and autobiography. In Giono's work the old modes and familiar forms continue to fulfill the age-old functions of great literature: we see the Christian epic suddenly made relevant to everyday life or the pagan epic re-explain modern male savagery. In Giono's hands the novel explains man to himself, shows man more clearly the world about him, and offers to men everywhere renewed courage and hope.

    Originally published in 1973.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6918-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-24)

    The following chapters were written in an attempt to explain the fascination exerted by the fiction of Jean Giono. They present him as a major writer in our century, first as a master of French prose who reinforced tastes cultivated earlier by Marcel Proust and André Gide, and then more widely as an Americanophile renewing Melville and William Faulkner. No American studies a French novelist with such gratitude, it would seem, unless he has found him not only authenticating modern existence and personal ethic, but moreover handling as if by request our most plaguing problems: the disquieting relationships, in what...

  4. I The Apocalyptic Mode
    (pp. 25-54)

    When Jean Giono composed his historical novel of World War I, he revealed not only by the point of reference from which he hid himself in order to narrate but also because of the prophetic nature of his view that he considered himself chosen and ordained to have seen that war and to have spoken of it. According toRevelation,Saint John the Divine was also commanded to bear witness:

    “1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by...

  5. II The Surrealist Mode
    (pp. 55-94)

    When, passing suddenly to the mature novelist, we open a discussion of Giono’s chronicleNoé,we see spread before us a most brilliant innovation in fictional form by an author whose literary career, commencing at the end of World War I, had just witnessed the close of World War II. The titleNoé,¹ along with its associations of flood and ark, derives in part from the recent German occupation of France and from Giono’s own war experiences at Manosque and in Marseilles. After June of 1940 it appeared that France had sunk under an ocean of suffering; members of the...

  6. III The Symbolic Mode
    (pp. 95-138)

    When Pierre-Henri Simon noted inTémoins de I’homme(Paris, 1951, p. 190) that we are now witnessing in fiction a century without women characters, he stated a fact undoubtedly true for a great many modern novels created by authors generally considered foremost. However, the novel based upon a love story involving a desirable heroine follows only one novelistic tradition. As early as the sixteenth century authors had demonstrated that fiction can rise to great heights when the problem of love is reduced to a minimum, with women as coveted objects incidentally introduced, relegated to shadowy presence in the periphery, or...

  7. IV The Epic Mode
    (pp. 139-182)

    Batailles dans la montagneof 1937, Giono’s last novel before the war dropped its veil of silence over France, pictures a world torn by Heraclitean strife. Battles reach all the way to high heaven: “Le del était plein de grands gestes.” Water wreaks havoc with man, sweeps over tethered horses, drowns cattle at their stanchions, uproots forests, and undermines earth. Glacier and river thus strike terror, before gravity causes a multi-colored vertigo. In such elemental chaos men easily triumph over women—frail mice fallen into vats of dough. Youth succumbs everywhere to toughened age.

    White, bearded, patriarchal, and powerful, the...

  8. V The Tragic Mode
    (pp. 183-230)

    World War II came to an end for Giono not earlier than 1947 when La Table Ronde in Paris broke an embargo against the novelist by publishing his immediately famous chronicleUn Rot sans divertissement.During the preceding ten-year period Giono had to some degree put aside fiction¹ for political action:Refus d’obeissance(1937), or the refusal to bear arms, for which he suffered² his first rigorous imprisonment in Marseilles, chained leg and wrist, and the resultant paresis; andLettre aux paysans sur la pauvrete et la paix(1938), where he tells women how to stop war by a method...

  9. VI The Autobiographical Mode
    (pp. 231-272)

    InMort d’un personnage(1949),¹ where a first-person narrator tells of the aging and of the death of his grandmother, Giono performs a double feat: making an attractive old woman the central character of a novel, and recounting at considerable length the death of a mother. As he admitted to Claudine Chonez and to others,² his heroine for this novel, the Marchioness Pauline de Théus, whose youthful gallantry we have admired inLe Hussard sur le toit,having since that time loved Angelo Pardi and lost him, represents Giono’s own mother Pauline, whom he nursed during her last illness. This...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-292)
  11. Index
    (pp. 293-302)