THE HORSEMAN ON THE ROOF by Jean Giono

THE HORSEMAN ON THE ROOF

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An apocalyptic panorama of a cholera epidemic in Provence in the mid nineteenth century has none of the metaphysical content of Camus' modern The Plague, but has a sense of epic universality in which primitivism overrides civilized restraints and good and evil are reduced to their simplest terms. And for the personal tragedy of the individual, Giono substitutes a larger landscape of devastation across which his central character, a Pledmontese hussar, moves with high courage and confidence. The message here is a simple one that the fear and hysteria and treachery which are generated cause more havoc than the disease that self-interest, in the struggle for survival, is more destructive than death. But Angelo, as he moves from village to village, is a figure from an heroic mold- a chevalier sans peur at sans reproche. He tries to save others-rather than himself; and eventually it is Pauline, whose courage matches his, whom he escorts back to her home- and whom he sustains when she is stricken.... Giono writes with a powerful, coarse, physical detail an insistence on the spectacle of sudden death which is also foul and agonized but which is redeemed by the fearless and unflagging conduct of his hussar. For an American audience, the appeal is however limited.

ISBN: 086547060X
Publisher: Knopf