Finalist for the 2004 French-American Foundation Translation Prize
The Serpent of Stars takes place in rural southern France in the early in the 20th century. The novel’s elusive narrative thread ties landscape to character to an expanse just beyond our grasp. The narrator encounters a shepherding family and, glimpse by glimpse, each family member and the shepherding way of life is revealed. The novel culminates in a large shepherds’ gathering where a traditional Shepherd’s Play—a kind of creation myth that includes in its cast The River, The Sea, The Man, and The Mountain—is enacted.
What good luck to have this portion of Paradise, with its shepherds and music, rivers and mountains, magic and mystery, lovingly translated into English.
— Christopher Merrill
[Giono's] phrases behave like the wild grasses and the beasts he speaks about. They are sap breathing and moving across the page...Jody Gladding translates as a poet...and that is the only way to translate Giono.
— Cecilia Vicuña
Giono has created his own private terrestrial domain, a mythical domain…It is a region over which the stars and planets course with throbbing pulsations. It is a land in which things happen to men as aeons ago they happened to the gods. Pan still walks the earth. The soil is saturated with cosmic juices. Events transpire. Miracles occur.
— Henry Miller