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The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
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The Man Who Planted Trees (1954)

by Jean Giono

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1343110,610 (4.08)33
  1. 00
    The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino (weeksj10)
  2. 00
    Planetwalker by John Francis (weeksj10)
  3. 00
    Unbowed: a Memoir by Wangari Maathai (bertilak)
  4. 00
    The Mountain that loved a bird by Alice McLerran (Book2Dragon)
    Book2Dragon: Both of these books took my breath away in their depth and layered meanings. You will find Giono's book perhaps more adult, and McLerran's for all ages, but both are much needed for the world today.
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» See also 33 mentions

English (20)  Italian (4)  Catalan (3)  Swedish (2)  Czech (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This slender Provençal parable was – bizarrely – originally composed for a Reader's Digest competition which asked people to write about ‘The most unforgettable character I've met’. Giono's response was to produce this simple, bucolic tale about a lone shepherd who takes it upon himself to plant trees singlehandedly across vast swathes of the Provençal Alps.

The landscape which, at the start of the story in the 1910s, is desolate and bleak, has become by the end, in the late 1940s, a sort of rural paradise of lush woodland, running streams, and happy red-cheeked villagers. It's a narrative with obvious ecological appeal, as well as carrying a message of humanist hopefulness:

Quand on se souvenait que tout était sorti des mains et de l'âme de cet homme, sans moyens techniques, on comprenait que les hommes pourraient être aussi efficaces que Dieu dans d'autres domaines que la destruction.

The contrast with destruction is important, since the narrative is twice interrupted – significantly, if discreetly – by world wars. Giono himself fought at Verdun, and found naturally enough that the experience had made him a committed pacifist. (He took this position pretty far, famously asking in 1937, ‘What's the worst that could happen if Germany does invade France?’) The simple, easy prose style turns this stance into something that feels timeless, like a fable.

In contrast to the dark ambiguity of the classic pre-modern legends and fairytales, I find that modern myths often have a sort of clunking unsubtlety to them – Paolo Coelho, for example. This is nowhere near that bad, but I must admit I'm a little cautious about a story whose conclusion is that ‘malgré tout, la condition humaine est admirable’, which perhaps risks encouraging a little too much complacency in the reader. Then again, sometimes you need a bit of encouragement, and certainly this short story has a message to deliver and captures the landscape of Haute Provence with great sensitivity. ( )
1 vote Widsith | Aug 13, 2018 |
What a hopeful and encouraging story this is. It is about the difference that one person can make and how one positive action can release a chain reaction of ….Set from 1913 to 1949, it spans two world wars and, at a time when man is involved in so much destruction, here is a man who is building something.

When you remembered that all this had sprung from the hands and the soul of this one man, without technical resources, you understood that humans could be as effectual as God in other realms than that of destruction.

His efforts restore the forest, but that is the first step only...what happens after is that nature takes over and begins to replenish all the good things that have been lost. With the blossoming of nature, comes the restoration of the villages and the men.

Hunters, climbing into the wilderness in pursuit of hares or wild boar, had of course noticed the sudden growth of little trees, but had attributed it to some natural caprice of the earth. That is why no one meddled with Elzeard Bouffier’s work. If he had been detected he would have had opposition. He was indetectable. Who in the villages or in the administration could have dreamed of such perseverance in a magnificent generosity?

Seems sad, but accurate, to me that had he been “detected” he would have been stopped. It also seemed sad to me that he would never be appreciated or credited with what he had done. But, then, he did not do it for that reason. He was not seeking praise, he was seeking to restore the land, and he had done everything he set out, without any fanfare, to do.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
An Irish version of :L'homme qui plantait des arbres under a generous man, sheep shepherd such as placing trees and changing a country that was everywhere, bred and without a soul. A story suitable for teenagers, in particular. Pictures from the beginning with Willi Glasauer.
  JESGalway | Mar 1, 2018 |
Dal punto di vista letterario ovviamente non vale molto. Ma a dispetto delle apparenze la lettura, molto breve e rapida (non avrebbe avuto alcun senso allungare il brodo), non e' stata per niente inutile, qualcosa c'e' e ci vuole poco per trovarla. ( )
  Mlvtrglvn | Jan 5, 2018 |
A parable in the form of a sweet, simple novella, in which a hermit shepherd spends years planting hundreds of thousands of tree seeds, in the process rejuvenating an entire ecosystem. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Sep 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean Gionoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Glasauer, Willisecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodrich, Norma LorreAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ó Neill, Eoinsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0930031067, Paperback)

The Man Who Planted Trees is not a detailed how-to guide to planting; it is a touching story of Elzéard Bouffier, who devoted his entire life to reforesting a desolate portion of Provence, in southern France. He single-handedly planted 100 acorns each day before, through, and after two world wars, and transformed a sorrowful place into one full of life and joy. Jean Giono's words offer a tribute to how much good one person can accomplish in a lifetime and advise on how to live life with deep meaning. Illustrated with moving, beautiful wood engravings by Michael McCurdy, The Man Who Planted Trees is simply written but powerful and unforgettable. The text is also available on tape, eloquently narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema and accompanied by music from the Paul Winter Consort.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An allegorical tale, urging readers to rediscover the harmonies of the countryside and prevent its wilful destruction.

» see all 4 descriptions

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