Literature and War Readalong March 30 2012: To the Slaughterhouse – Le grand troupeau by Jean Giono

Jean Giono’s To the Slaughterhouse – Le grand troupeau is the last WWI novel of this year’s readalong. Giono is one of the great French writers, famous for books like L’homme qui plantait des arbresThe Man Who Planted Trees, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Que ma joie demeure orLe hussard sur le toit – The Horseman on the Roof which has been made into a successful movie. His books are deeply rooted in the South of France and he is often compared to Pagnol.

I try not to be too enthusiastic this time, but, let me just say, cautiously, I think, this should be a good book. At least he is an author who has never disappointed me so far and I’m even planning on (re-)reading a few of his other books this year, like Colline, Un de Baumugnes and Regain, the so-called Pan trilogy. Giono is famous for the way he describes the joy of life and that’s why I’m particularly interested to see how he treated such a bleak subject.

Here are the first sentences

Last night they watched as all the men left. It was a thick August night smelling of corn and horse-sweat. The animals were harnessed in the station-yard. The big plough-haulers had been tied up to the shafts on the carts; their solid rumps held back the loads of women and children.

The train moved off quietly in the night, spattering the willow trees with embers as it took on speed. Then all the horses started moaning together.


The discussion starts on Friday, 30 March 2012.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2012, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.