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Sunday, October 02, 2005

The man who planted trees

In the comments box Tony drew my attention to Jean Giono. I wondered who he was and now I know. You can read The Man Who Planted Trees here. It's a heart warming story that makes me feel good about absolutely everything. I suggest you read it asap.

There is some debate over whether it is fact or fiction. A lot of the sites I've glanced at say that it's fiction. This passage may say that the story is true but seems to conclude that it's not. I'm not sure because I'm not very good at French. Can you tell me what it says?
Elzéard Bouffier a-t-il vraiment existé? On voudrait le croire. Et si c'étaient les
naïfs qui, dans ce cas, avaient raison? En décembre 1982 le magazine Harrowsmith
publiait, sous la signature de Jean Giono, le texte intégral dit par Philippe Noiret dans le film de Back. De nombreux lecteurs en ont conclu que ce personnage avait bel et bien existé, ce qui les a incités davantage à reboiser leur environnement. Une Québécoise, Madame Beverley von Baeyer, s'est même rendue dans le village perdu de Banon, pour y fleurir la tombe d'Elzéard qui, selon Giono, y avait été enterré en 1947. Deux ans plus tard elle racontait son pèlerinage dans Harrowsmith. C'est à la mairie de Banon, après une longue course en taxi vers ce lieu perdu, qu'elle apprit que Giono était un romancier plus connu dans la région qu'Elzéard Bouffier. Elle ne fut pas trop désenchantée: Elzéard Bouffier, avoua-t-elle, rejoignait mes héros:
Robin Hood, Hereward the Wake... Giono avait, sans le savoir, réussi un canulard
international; d'autres Pèlerins étaient venus, d'Allemagne notamment.


Blogger Kat said...

For a well-researched and less romanticized account of Johnny Appleseed, check out Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire. Johhny Appleseed was a real man, a rather queer one, but his motives have been Disneyfied in the story as it is usually told to American children. He planted apples ahead of expected settlements, not for food (every apple seed produces a new variety of apple tree, most of which are poor eating), but so that pioneers could make hard cider. The extant orchards also helped them to secure land, as that was one of the legal requirements when making a land claim. Johnny Appleseed kept to himself, always one step ahead of the crowd. I don't believe he ever owned land himself.

The book, by the way, covers four plants (apples, potatoes, tulips, and marijuana), taking the angle that perhaps the things we cultivate are simultaeously cultivating us for their own good. Interesting read.

10:10 am  
Blogger Mapo said...

Cider. Now that makes more sense!

11:55 am  

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