Shadows on the Fields
by Ludovic Masse
translated from French by Katherine Woods
Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., c1948, no other printings listed, 1st Edition, First English Edition, originally published as "Ombres sur les Champs", 193 pages. EXCELLENT Condition Hardcover with a VERY GOOD Dust Jacket. This book has some foxing on endpapers and dj, and light dj wear/soiling. NO Writing! Pages & Binding are NICE & TIGHT!
On the lower slopes of the Pyrenees, in Southern France, lies a strange, richly beautiful countryside of vineyards, pastures and hills. The people are Catalan, proud and simple farmers, whose ways of life have changed little through the ages. They are the characters of SHADOWS ON THE YIELDS, a robust and yet tender novel from a superbly talented pen.
Old Paillares, rich and avaricious owner of Les Chanterelles is a hard, authoritarian rather who rules his farm and his children with an iron hand. Against Paillares stand young Marcel, his rebellious son; Olivier, the radical farm hand; the giant Janou, strong as an ox; the half-wit, Manai, whose lust and revenge are to play a destructive role. And there is Jeanne, Marcel's beloved. When Paillares encounters resistance he suffers deeply, but he will not give in until the hand of Death lies upon his shoulder.
Nature is the real protagonist of SHADOWS ON THE FIELDS, for the story is composed like a pastoral symphony. The luminous picture of the earth, the round of days, the cycle of seasons offer the dominant theme. The people live in the shadow of nature, and are part of its violence, its simplicity, tragedy, and innocence. Their very dignity derives from that oneness.
Yet Ludovic Masse's sensitive understanding also encompasses human feeling and illusions. His characters stand out at once true and symbolic. He gives us drama: the tenacious struggle between father and son, between rich peasant and poor farm hands, attempted rape, and the smoking ruins of a burning farm, ignited in hate and revenge. He gives us tenderness: the love between Jeanne and Marcel; Lea and Olivier. He gives us merriment and tears, compassion and hatred, light and shadows, until one feels that he is living within these pages and these lives.
La Tribune de Geneve says of SHADOWS ON THE FIELDS: "This work of Ludovic Masse's is truly beautiful, a bucolic novel full of robust poetry, sprightly imagery, action, lively dialogue, and characters drawn in bold relief. Here the earth is not a vague decor. It has a soul, a complex face; one feels it vibrate, tremble, sigh, awaken. From all this grows a profound and universal poetry where man and nature mingle in a grand pantheism."
Masse's lyric prose has won him literary renown in France. SHADOWS ON THE FIELDS introduces him for the first time to American readers. His writing is clear and hard, with an enchanting melodious rhythm that is at times sheer magic; his book is precise in design and richly colorful. Katherine Woods, distinguished translator of Antoine Saint-Exupery, has rendered every nuance of the French into superb English prose. SHADOWS ON THE FIELDS is a timeless book that, despite its somber and violent theme, will leave the reader with a sense of serenity.
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