Where to start reading Marcel Pagnol?
Marcel Pagnol is first known for these films. His literary influences include works like Marius and Jean de Florette, which reflect his Southerly heritage. Marcel Pagnol is a storyteller who knows how to tell stories that touch the reader while keeping the sunny side. He therefore encourages us to explore the diverse social milieu of the South of France. He is a great creator of characters and said, “If I had been a painter, I would have only done portraits.”
By reading Marcel Pagnol, you will have the opportunity to discover French society at the beginning of the 20th century, especially life in the South East of France. Here are five books that anyone who wants to read a first book in French should read:
Published in 1928, Topaze was Pagnol’s first theatrical success. Albert Topaze, a teacher at a private school, believes that honesty is the only thing that makes a man respectable. However, not everyone thinks like him. One day, he loses his job for unfair reasons, and he falls in despair. A mischievous city councilor decides to hire him as a nominee in order to gain wealth. It is a solid piece, beautifully constructed.
Marius is a French play that was published in 1929 and is one of the most famous in the repertoire. The narrative is characterized by a conflict between a young man’s travel desires and his romantic feelings for a small shellfish seller. But it is this duality that stirs their neighborhood in the Old Port of Marseille. A joyful drama is then played out with its characters that are both excessive and so true. This book promises to bring laughter and tears to your eyes. This text, which could be described as being of biblical simplicity, contains a bouquet of emotions.
Similar to Marius, Fanny is a simple story told with sincerity. After being abandoned by Marius, Fanny discovered that she was pregnant and married a brave man who agreed to endorse the paternity of another. There is a true masterpiece hidden under the apparent lightness of the story. Those who enjoyed Marius and Fanny will be tempted by the rest of this trilogy, César.
Jean de Florette (1963)
Bastides Blanches, a village in Aubagne, hides its houses as best it can. This land is impenetrable to foreigners and progress. Then comes Jean Cadoret, a man from the city who is hunchbacked, utopian, and enterprising. His interests create a conflict of interest with his neighbor, Ugolin, who was dreaming of acquiring his fields. A conflict fueled by tenacious ambition and a desire for wealth will arise.
My father’s glory (La gloire de mon père) (1957)
Do you want to learn more about Marcel Pagnol? If so, then you must read his autobiographical novel, My Father’s Glory. La gloire de mon père is part of the saga of childhood memories of Marcel Pagnol. You will discover French society at the beginning of the 20th century and will travel with Marcel and his family to Provence. You will hear the song of the cicadas and the Provençal accent. This book is the expression of happiness, of the “nice” quarrel between civil servants and others, of the rigor that a teacher inflicts on himself, of the discovery of hunting and vacations with family in the hills.
Marcel Pagnol: A gold mine for French learners
Whether it is to improve their mastery of the language, to broaden their cultural knowledge or simply to escape into a world full of emotions and truth, discovering Marcel Pagnol is an enriching experience that opens the doors to a literary and exceptional cinematography.
Thanks to the intricate plots of his works, French learners can gain a better understanding of the values, traditions, and social realities of France in the early 20th century. This article provided a nice list to start reading the best of Marcel Pagnol. By joining the Frenchbookmark reading group, you can access reading sheets for Marius et My Father’s Glory.
Marcel Pagnol’s repertoire is rich in plays and films. Joining a book club dedicated to French learners offers many advantages. By reading the works of Marcel Pagnol, you can not only immerse yourself in the picturesque universe of Provence, but also elevate your knowledge of the French language, French culture and society. The lively and colorful dialogues, characterized by the writing of Marcel Pagnol, are an excellent opportunity to explore the richness of the French language, with its idiomatic expressions and its musicality.