Occupation Journal


Translated from by

Published: 3/20/20



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Book Description

Written during the years of France’s occupation by the Nazis, Jean Giono’s Occupation Journal reveals the inner workings of one of France’s great literary minds during the country’s darkest hour. A renowned writer and committed pacifist throughout the 1930s and 1940s – a conviction that resulted in his imprisonment before and after the Occupation – Giono spent the war in the town of Manosque in Provence, where he wrote, corresponded with other writers, and cared for his family. This journal records his musings on art and literature, his observations of life, his interactions with the machinery of the collaborationist Vichy regime, as well as his forceful political convictions. Giono recounts the details of his life with fierce independence of thought and novelistic attention to character and dialogue. Occupation Journal is a fascinating historical document as well as a unique window into one of French literature’s most voracious and critical minds.

Jean Giono’s Occupation Journal is a fascinating record of life under Nazi occupation in France, and an insight into the daily reading and writing practices of a dedicated author . . . To a timely effect, many of Giono’s reflections also tackle the problem of isolation, of drawing upon inner resources, and of the consolation of literature . . . The journals in their entirety compose a captivating account of a sensitive, dedicated writer’s quotidian life, and an insight into how he faced both the exterior and interior struggles of his time.
Sarah Moore, Asymptote Journal

Jody Gladding has beautifully rendered Giono’s inner voice, in all its moods and registers, lyrical, cynical, and reflective.
Paul Eprile

For Giono, literature and reality overlap the way that waves sweep over the shore, one ceaselessly refreshing the other and, in certain wondrous moments, giving it a glassy clearness.
Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic

Giono’s voice is the voice of the realist; his accents are the accents of simplicity, power and a passionate feeling for a land and a people that he must love as well as understand.
The New York Times

There are certain books you feel you’ve needed without even knowing whether they exist; and when finally you read such a book, it becomes indispensable to comprehending the most haunting insistences of human experience. I’m speaking here of Occupation Journal by Jean Giono, brilliantly translated by Jody Gladding. This journal is full of harrowing wartime incident, an almost desperate reliance on literature, the severest lyricism Giono needed to chronicle thinking and feeling deeply in a world gone mad.
Howard Norman

"The importance of this volume is the depiction of the time with difficulties, unpleasantness and compromises often shown in minute detail . . . visceral and personal, it will raise questions in readers' minds as to how they would or could react in similar circumstances."
NB Magazine

Curious and wide-ranging, his entries . . . invite delight and interest, covering a broad range of topics at a pace that begs to be savored . . . Occupation Journal is a gem of a historical memoir that includes blasts of beauty, art, and human observation.
Susan Waggoner, Foreword Reviews

The journal gives a vivid sense of the French countryside during the war years, the physical beauty of Provence moving through the seasons, contrasted with the fears and unease of occupation. Giono himself, erudite, questioning, refusing to allow himself to be buffeted by the opinions of others or steered off a course he personally felt to be morally right, comes across as courageous and decent, a writer who fell just on the wrong side of the enduring French debate about les années noires, but who lived to see himself recognized as one of the finest writers on the natural world.
Caroline Moorhead, The Times Literary Supplement

Click here for an excerpt of Occupation Journal in The Paris Review.

Watch Paul Eprile, Jody Gladding, and Jack Shoemaker discuss Giono’s life and work, hosted by Stephen Sparks of Point Reyes Books.