THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES by Jean Giono (FAN AND FLAME Book Reviews)

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The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono(Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007 [originally published 1953], 72 pages)

The Man Who Planted Trees tells the story of Elzéard Bouffier, who—living alone (widowed) and in a desolate country—single-handedly reforests the land: 100 acorns a day. For decades.

The narrative, and the corresponding woodcut illustrations, engenders love, sympathy, and admiration for the man. Stuffed with biblical imagery (e.g., “Lazarus,” “Canaan,” “God’s athletes,” and Eden-like descriptions), Giono compels readers to ponder the tension between ‘what is’ and what ‘ought to be’; and then what to do about it, namely, personally committed activism over the long haul (i.e., 100 acorns a day for decades.)

I received the book from a dear friend who thought I was ‘one who planted trees.’ Having now read it, I receive the compliment gladly.

Two Favorite Quotes

"It was his opinion that this land was dying for want of trees." (Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees, 14)

"Human beings cannot thrive in a place where the natural environment has been degraded." (Maathai Wangari from the Foreward, viii).

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