An NYRB Classics Original
Deep in Provence, a century ago, four stone houses perch on a hillside. Wildness presses in from all sides. Beyond a patchwork of fields, a mass of green threatens to overwhelm the village. The animal world a miming cat, a malevolent boar displays a mind of its own.
The four houses have a dozen residents and then there is Gagou, a mute drifter. Janet, the eldest of the men, is bedridden; he feels snakes writhing in his fingers and speaks in tongues. Even so, all is well until the village fountain suddenly stops running. From this point on, humans and the natural world are locked in a life-and-death struggle. All the elements fire, water, earth, and air come into play.
From an early age, Jean Giono roamed the hills of his native Provence. He absorbed oral traditions and, at the same time, devoured the Greek and Roman classics."Hill," his first novel and the first winner of the Prix Brentano, comes fully back to life in Paul Eprile's poetic translation.
About the Author
Jean Giono (1895 1970) was born and lived most of his life in the town of Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Largely self-educated, he started working as a bank clerk at the age of sixteen and reported for military service when World War I broke out. He fought in the battle of Verdun and was one of the few members of his company to survive. After the war, he returned to his job and family in Manosque and became a vocal, lifelong pacifist. After the success of "Hill," which won the Prix Brentano, he left the bank and began to publish prolifically. During World War II Giono s outspoken pacifism led some to accuse him unjustly of collaboration with the Nazis; after France s liberation in 1944, he was imprisoned and held without charges. Despite being blacklisted after his release, Giono continued writing and was elected to the Academie Goncourt in 1954.
Paul Eprile is a longtime publisher (Between the Lines, Toronto), as well as a poet and translator. He is currently at work on the translation of Jean Giono s novel "Melville" (forthcoming from NYRB) and lives on the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario, Canada.
David Abram is the director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics. A cultural ecologist, philosopher, and performance artist, he is the award-winning author of "Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology" and "The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World." He teaches and lectures around the world and lives with his family in the foothills of the southern Rockies."