This is actually (shhhhh) my first post for Paris in July, of which I am very ashamed but not too repentant, as I’m not sure I could have managed it before. What with being gone to the States for the past month, our lives have been pretty hectic, but now we’re back in the land of stinky cheese and I am ready to participate! I thought for this first post I’d highlight one of my favorite French authors, Marcel Pagnol. Now, I studied French in school, but I never really progressed beyond the level of The Little Prince when it came to reading until I moved here. Once I did, I decided to try to read in French more regularly as a way of improving my level, and I stumbled upon the works of Pagnol, a novelist, playwright, and filmmaker who was actually an English teacher, too, in his early career.
Pagnol lived in Paris as an adult and is buried there, but he’s most famous for his works based on his native Provence. He wrote a series of autobiographical novels about his childhood experience there which include La Gloire de Mon Père (My Father’s Glory), Le Château de Ma Mère (My Mother’s Castle), Le Temps des Secrets (The Time of Secrets), and Le Temps des Amours (The Time of Loves). So far, I’ve read the first two books in the series and have the other two waiting on my shelf. I recommend them if you have a decent level in French, as they are short and not too difficult to follow except for the local dialect which can sometimes include confusing or unknown words.
Pagnol also wrote a second series about Provence which resulted in two well-known films–Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. I haven’t read the books yet but the movies (adapted by French director Claude Berri) are wonderful.
Finally, I have to share this funny story about Pagnol that I discovered while reading up on his life. Apparently, he learned to read at a very young age, which scared his mother as she thought his head would explode from the effort. So, she wouldn’t let him touch a book until he was six! Poor Marcel. I’m not sure that this fear has diminished in France, as I was told by my daughter’s teacher that I shouldn’t let her learn to read until she was in first grade as it would “ruin it for her”. Humph!