HOME IS THE HUNTER by Gontran de Poncins


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The non-fiction listing here is open to question -- and yet the market for this nostalgic picture of a France and a way of life that have gone is assuredly a non-fiction rather than a fiction market. A thin thread of plot involves an ancient retainer who comes back to the place that had been his home for most of his life, on a four day fill-in job. Through his avid seeking the things and the memories of the past one recreates -- while reading -- the life of a great household, presided over by a lord of the manor to whom his tenants were human beings, then by his son-in-law, who could not bear any reminder of his responsibilities other than collecting the rent. One sees the yearly round, indoors and out; one learns to know the personalities, now shadowy ghosts; one picks up threads here and there, of the tragedies the house hid; one sees the old cook, inveighing against the slapdash methods of his underlings and the other servants, doing their work over again, living for the minutiae of his daily activities and escaping, now and again, to the woods, the lake -- bringing back his spoils.de Poncins has a rare gift, shown in Kabloona, shown again here, for poetic evanescence of imagery, applied to almost mundane things, so that the impression left is of a delicate etching, the pathos, the drama, the story, implicit. He is fortunate in his translator. Definitely a somewhat limited audience.

Publisher: Reynal & Hitchcock