The Serpent of Stars

The Serpent of Stars

Paperback

By (author) Jean Giono, Translated by MS Jody Gladding

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  • Publisher: ARCHIPELAGO BOOKS
  • Format: Paperback | 117 pages
  • Dimensions: 153mm x 177mm x 9mm | 177g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2004
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 097286928X
  • ISBN 13: 9780972869287
  • Sales rank: 436,905

Product description

The Serpent of Stars (Le serpent d[etoiles, 1993; reprinted 1999 Grasset) takes place in rural southern France in the early part of the century. The novel's 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 Shepherd's Play--a kind of creation myth that includes in its cast The River, The Sea, The Man, and The Mountain--is enacted. The work's proto-environmental world view as well as its hybrid form--part play, part novel--makes The Serpent of Stars astonishingly contemporary. W.S. Merwin's "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.

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Author information

Jean Giono was born in Manosque in 1895 and spent most of his life in that part of Provence, which is also the setting for his immense body of work, over fifty novels, as well as poems, essays and plays. During World War II, he turned to political writing and was jailed for pacifist activities. He is best known in North America for his autobiographical Blue Boy, The Horseman on the Roof, and The Man Who Planted Trees. This is The first English translation of The Serpent of Stars. Jody Gladding is poet and a translator. Her most recent collection of poetry is Rooms and Their Airs. She has translated over twenty books from French, including Small Lives and The Eleven by Pierre Michon. She teaches in The MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Vermont.

Review quote

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. Pan still walks the earth. The soil is saturated with cosmic juices. Events transpire. Miracles occur. --Henry Miller [Giono's] phrases behave like the wild grasses and the beasts he speaks about. They are sap breathing and moving across the page...Jody Gladding translates as a poet...and that is the only way to translate Giono. --Cecilia VicuIa 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