Today my sequel to French author Jean Giono’s 1954 masterpiece The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness is published. My book — The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life — is released to coincide with the 46th anniversary of his death in October 1970.
Of some 30 books The Man Who Planted Trees was Giono’s most popular and enduring work. His simple yet beautiful writing emphasised the power of the written word, and opened my mind to environmentalism, revealing how everyone can help make the world better for nature.
In the Foreword to my new book I write:
“Giono’s aim was to popularise tree planting, and his allegorical story contrasted the benefits of environmental restoration with the futility and destructiveness of war. More than 60 years later we are following a path towards unprecedented environmental change, and perhaps even greater societal upheaval. At the same time, humanity is drifting ever-more distant from the natural world. Planting trees is now a popular social norm, but harvesting trees is more often associated with exploitation and destruction, even though good silviculture (forest management) is equally important in the care of our forests.”
Jean Giono was born on 30th March 1895 the son of a shoemaker and laundress. He died aged 75 on 9th October 1970, having rarely left his beloved town of Manosque in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department of south-east France. The only significant time he spent away from home was during the First World War when mobilised for four years, two of which he spent at the front, serving as an infantryman at Verdun, Chemin des Dames, and Kemmel. His experiences made him a fervent pacifist, and his strong anti-war stance became a central theme alongside environmentalism in many of his books.
Henry Miller wrote that reading Giono was a “cosmic delight”. His writing transformed Provenance into a place that included adventure, intrigue and passion.
There is a Jean Giono centre at Manosque which acts as a focus for research and dissemination of his work, set in a beautiful historic building with landscaped gardens. Read more
For a list of 30 distinct works, many of which have been translated into English, see: Jean Giono’s works on GoodReads