Jean de Florette
Au village des Bastides Blanches, on hait ceux de Crespin. C’est pourquoi lorsque Jean Cadoret, le Bossu, s’installe à la ferme des Romarins, on ne lui parle pas de la source cachée. Ce qui facilite les manœuvres des Soubeyran, le Papet et son neveu Ugolin, qui veulent lui racheter son domaine à bas prix…
Jean de Florette (1962), premier volume de L’Eau des collines, marque, trente ans après Pirouettes, le retour de Pagnol au roman. C’est l’épopée de l’eau nourricière sans laquelle rien n’est possible.
Playwright, filmmaker and novelist Pagnol (1895-1974) affectionately celebrated his native Provence along with the shrewdness and comic foibles of the folk. Jean Cadoret is a hunchback of charm and intelligence who comes from town to settle on his inherited estate where he plans to farm scientifically. His wife Aimee, a former small-time opera singer, and adoring little daughter Manon work by his side. But the jealous Soubeyransthe local patriarch Cesar and his nephew, the clownish Ugolincraftily plug up a spring on Jean's farm and wait for him to fail. When a cruel summer drought drives Jean to despair and eventually death, the Soubeyrans buy his land cheaply and divert the water for their own lucrative carnation farm. In the sequel, Manon appears as a picturesque goat-girl/dryad, scampering over the rocks in cast-off opera gear and playing her pipes. She avenges her parents and falls in love. The end brings astonishing revelations. Pagnol depicts his villagers as post-Roman pagans whose "natural brutality'' shows through their Christian veneer. As in the author's earlier naturalist novels, the landscape and the willful spring are forces molding human fates. Those who offend nature, here lushly described, pay a penalty. There are eight pages of photos (not seen by PW), from the recently released films, which follow the novels closely.