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Les of that region are characterised by a tenderness and delicacy a wistfulness and wry humour which give moving substance to his claim that to invent for him was to remember Daudet known as the Dickens of France was on par with Flaubert in his time but has since fallen off the radar outside France My interest in his writing stems from Zola and James both of whom claimed him as a favorite writer This collection of melancholy pastoral tales of the Provence region of France has a promising concept our narrator takes up residence in a small dilapidated windmill from which he writes tales responds to letters and relates local legends always making a stark contrast with life back in the bustling city of Paris Unfortunately for every memorable tale a shepherd providing shelter for a lost girl a lighthouse keeper s experience with death a shipwreck on an isolated coast there are two or three duds The introduction hits on exactly why these tales seem so dated they lack the psychological insight of most late 19th and early 20th century stories and novellas I would add to this assessment that Daudet seems to be a pure Storyteller in the Benjaminian sense He is communicating a series of shared experiences both from the perspective of life long rural characters and from travelers who are just passing through while presenting a straight forward view of love and death that is uncomplicated by modern disruptions of alienation or mechanization Although we do get a story about one lone windmill operator holding out against the conversation to steam power across the countryside However the rural community ultimately rallies to keep his little mill in operation leading to an overly sentimental happy ending even amidst the sadness of industrial invasion This sounds like it s right up my alley and I m still a little perplexed why this book didn t resonant with me Perhaps I had too high of an expectation Or perhaps I m so used to tales of psychological insight that I ve lost my ability to appreciate this direct method of storytelling

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Lettres de mon moulin

Alphonse Daudet's novels established him as the most successful writer in France by the end of the XIX century; but it was the LETTERS first published in book form in 1869 wh There are places I like to revisit There are books I like to revisit also rich with the memory of past places I first read the wholly delightful Letters from my Windmill by Alphonse Daudet when I was on holiday with my parents in Provence in Avignon to be exact It was from there the city of the popes that we explored the surrounding countryside from there we discovered the charm and magic of this special part of La France profonde deep France I ve also managed to recapture the time and the place in the novels of Marcel Pagnol particularly the wonderful film adaptations of Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources but Daudet and his windmill for the whimsy and for the beauty for the love of a place and a people is in a special class It s the lightness of touch I admire so the beauty and crispness of his prose Not a word is wasted or out of place For me it s verbal sunlight soft lines and clear colours like an impressionist painting like something by Claude Monet perhaps celebrating nothing than itself its meaning immediate its profundity a total lack of profundity Daudet s timeless little fables first appeared in the Paris press in the 1860s an immediate sensation Although he was a major novelist of the day it is only through his Letters that he achieved a lasting reputation particularly outside of France So far as I am aware it s the only work of his ever published in English Most of the stories are set in Provence though he also ranges further to Corsica and further still to French Algeria itself a vanished world Don t look for the old Provence Daudet s Provence it s long gone gone with the Mistral But it lives again in these sparkling pages Old Cornille an anachronism even in his time lives again as does Monsieur Seguin and his audacious goat as does the Vicar of Cucugan as does Father Balaguere dreaming of turkeys bursting with truffles as does Father Guacher singing away in the haze of his elixir Hey ding a ding Hey ding a ding Some of the stories are touching sad in sweet melancholy Others are funny a burlesue sort of comedy I found myself laughing out loud once again at Father Gaucher s Elixir and smiling broadly at The Three Low Masses Sad or funny the various tales reflect Daudet s own love for the music the lore the traditions and romance of his southern home a way of life that I suspect he knew was slipping deeper into the mist of time Oh to lie at night under a southern sky looking up at the stars What The stars get married shepherdOh yes mistress And while I was trying to explain to her about these marriages I felt something entirely beautiful resting lightly on my shoulder With the sweet crumpling of her ribbons and laces of the curls of her hair she laid her sleeping head on my arm We stayed thus without moving until the stars paled dimmed by the dawning day And I looked and looked at her as she slept vaguely disturbed deep down within me yet miraculously protected by the night s clear holy light which has never given me any thoughts but beautiful ones Around us the stars continued their silent march as orderly as a great flock of sheep and at times it seemed to me that one of these stars the brightest having lost her way had come to life on my shoulder in order to sleep I read this prose poetry and felt something beautiful resting lightly on my mind a sweet sadness of memory That is the land of lost content I see it shining plain the happy highways where I went and cannot come again

REVIEW Lettres de mon moulin

Ich remained his favourite creation and has proved his most lastingThroughout his working life in Paris Daudet never lost his almost umbilical attachment to Provence These ta Whimsical stories and legends set in Provence supposedly related by the denizen of a windmill no longer used to grind wheat in fact one of the stories is about how the coming of the steam driven mill drove the windmills out of business and left the village in a pitiful state The French and English are en face in fact it is one of a series intended for long ago students of French to brush up their skills which is perfect as I am Paris bound next monthSo I read it in French with the translation handy for phrases and vocabulary one doesn t often use clerical terms and bird names for example The only problem was I downloaded a free scan of this old book 1923 so the diacritical marks meant the French was all jumbled in places I found it a good excuse for stumbling over difficult spots no doubt they were converted into nonsense But the stories themselves were charming with human weaknesses treated gently told as one would gossip over tea or a glass of wine Very nice Note also that this is a selection from the Windmills not the complete book


10 thoughts on “Lettres de mon moulin

  1. says:

    There are places I like to revisit There are books I like to revisit also rich with the memory of past places I first read the wholly delightful Letters from my Windmill by Alphonse Daudet when I was on holiday with my parents in Provence in Avignon to be exact It was from there the city of the popes that we expl

  2. says:

    Letters from My Windmill is a bit of a misnomer as letters are not involved What Daudet gives us instead is a series of short sketc

  3. says:

    Read this in French to help me with learning the language and getting to a better level than the one Im currently in Good anecdotes related to country life with bits of advice here and there Wish I could trust my French in such a way

  4. says:

    I am given to understand that Alphonse Daudet's novels established him as the most successful writer in France by the end of the 19th century and yet I must confess that I hadn't heard of him until a few weeks ago when I spotted this bookI loved the title and the premise intrigued meThe book began with an extract from a bill of sale To Mr Alphonse Daudet poet living in Paris here present and accepting itA windmill and f

  5. says:

    Reading this book is like taking a little vacation in southern France in the mid 1800's Not a bad place or time to be Daudet had the ability to make the countryside come alive in his pages His descriptions of the environment and his surroundings were beautifully rendered This is a book of observations folk tales daily comings and goings as

  6. says:

    Whimsical stories and legends set in Provence supposedly related by the denizen of a windmill no longer used to grind wheat; in fact one of the stories is about how the coming of the steam driven mill drove the windmills out of business and left the village in a pitiful state The French and English are en face in fact it i

  7. says:

    Daudet known as the Dickens of France was on par with Flaubert in his time but has since fallen off the radar outs

  8. says:

    Once among France's leading literary lights Daudet is largely forgotten today This collection of stories and sketches almost all set in Provence or neighbouring territories contains nothing very earth shattering but it is an easy read big on charm and local colour and the illustrations by Edward Ardizzone in this edition make a nice bonus The distinctive culture of Languedoc as opposed to France was still just alive a

  9. says:

    Goodness may be extremely irritating in a book In this book the effect is somehow minimized Read it in Russian

  10. says:

    I read this as a download from perusing Gutenberg not sure why exactly The letters as it seems are pretty much letters to the reader of memorable happeningsmostly short musings of bits of daily life in Provence no major drama or suc

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