The Horseman on the Roof Essay - Critical Essays

Jean Giono

Critical Context

Jean Giono projected a sequence of novels which would deal both with the Angelo of The Horseman on the Roof and with another Angelo, the grandson of the first Angelo and Pauline. These novels would establish parallels not only between the characters of two generations but also between the eras of the 1840’s and the 1940’s. This Angelo, grandson of the hero of The Horseman on the Roof, becomes the narrator of Mort d’un personnage (1949), a novel which describes the death of Pauline de Theus in powerful detail.

At the time of his own death, Giono had finished four novels in the Hussard Cycle: Mort d’un personnage, The Horseman on the Roof, Le Bonheur Fou (1957; The Straw Man, 1959), and Angelo (1958; English translation, 1960). Mort d’un personnage deals with the most recent time period, even though it was the first of the four to be published. Angelo, the last of the novels published, was, according to Giono, the first written, a quick sketch made when he first envisioned the characters of Angelo and Pauline. The Straw Man takes Angelo (the hero of The Horseman on the Roof) back to Italy, where he finds himself involved in the war with Austria. Perhaps because Giono was unable to complete the sequence as originally planned, the connection between the published novels is not always clear, nor are the plot lines consistent. Nevertheless, Giono insisted before his...

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