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The Serpent of Starsby Jean Giono
Synopses & Reviews
The Serpent of Stars (Le serpent d¢étoiles, 1993; reprinted 1999 Grasset) takes place in rural southern France in the early part of the century. The novels elusive narrative thread ties landscape to character to an expanse just beyond our grasp. The narrator encounters a shepherding family and glimpse by glimpse, each family member and the shepherding way of life is revealed to us. The novel culminates in a large shepherds gathering where a traditional Shepherds Play—a kind of creation myth that includes in its cast The River, The Sea, The Man, and The Mountain—is enacted. The works proto-environmental world view as well as its hybrid form—part play, part novel—makes The Serpent of Stars astonishingly contemporary. W.S. Merwins "Green Fields" begins, "By this part of the century few are left who believe/in the animals for they are not there in the carved parts/of them served on plates and the pleas from slatted trucks..." This novel leaves the reader believing not only in the animals, but the terrain they are part of, the people who tend them, and the life all these elements together compose.
Part play, part novel, stunningly contemporary, Giono's elusive narrative ties together landscape, character, and the beyond. Author of "The Man Who Planted Trees."
Fiction. Translated from the French by Jody Gladding. "What good luck to have this portion of Paradise, with its shepherds and music, rivers and mountains, magic and mystery, lovingly translated into English" -Christopher Merrill.
“Giono has created his own private terrestrial domain, a mythical domain . . . It is a region over which the stars and planets course with throbbing pulsations. It is a land in which things happen to men as aeons ago they happened to the gods . . .”—Henry Miller
In The Serpent of Stars, the narrator encounters a potter’s family, whose way of life is slowly revealed to us. The novel culminates in a large gathering where a Shepherd’s Play—a creation myth including in its cast The River, The Man, and The Mountain—is enacted. This novel leaves the reader believing in the animals, the terrain of which they are part, in the people who tend to them in life.
About the Author
Jean Giono was born in Manosque, in southeastern France in 1895. He spent most of his life in that part of Provence, which is also the setting for his works. He was largely self-taught. His experiences serving as an infantryman in World War I set the stage for his pacifism in World War II. In 1939, Giono spent two months in jail for pacifist activities. He was blacklisted by French Liberationist writers, although Andr' Gide came to his defense, and in 1954, he was elected to the Acad'mie Goncourt. Giono died in Manosque in 1970. Giono's body of work is immense, including more than fifty novels, as well as poems, essays, and plays. English translations of Giono's work currently available include Blue Boy, Joy of Man's Desiring, The Song of the World, The Horseman on the Roof, Solitude of Compassion and The Man Who Planted Trees.
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