Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Jean Giono was the author of twenty-six major works of fiction, ten essays or collections of essays, and four plays, as well as syndicated columns. He is also well-known as a great prose poet of nature, an unrepentant social critic, a champion of the poor, a theologian, a mythographer, a scholar, a revolutionary, and a humanist. Throughout his career as a writer, he offered to his readers as an alternative to modern, urban, industrial civilization a harmonious, pastoral universe in the classical manner of Greek mythology. Giono was one of the most original and innovative of modern novelists.

Blue Boy is an early work which not only embodies the primary themes which Giono was to use all of his life but also reveals the sources and development of those themes. Blue Boy, along with his early pastoral trilogy—Colline (1929; Hill of Destiny, 1929), Un de Baumugnes (1929; Lovers Are Never Losers, 1931), and Regain (1930; Harvest, 1939)—is one of his most popular works. In addition, he is greatly admired for his later novels, including Le Hussard sur le toit (1951; The Horseman on the Roof, 1953) and Le Bonheur Fou (1957; The Straw Man, 1959), and for his last polemic, Provence perdue (1968; Provence lost), a scathing indictment of modern civilization for its pollution of Provence.