Words of wisdom and wit
23 February 2023
For the first time, Marcel Pagnol's letters to his relatives, to Jean Giono, Georges Simenon, Albert Cohen...
As we know, Pagnol has always been a great tender, coupled with a great modesty. Correspondences unearthed by Nicolas, his grandson, thus reveal a part of his life he had kept hidden from view. In his Souvenirs d’enfance, he had welcomed us in Marseille, in the heart of his family, and had introduced us to Joseph, his father’s teacher, and to little Paul, his brother: now, both of them watch their Marcel (now grown up) triumphing in Paris, at the theater. Later, married to the beautiful Jacqueline, he writes himself to his son, always attentive, sometimes worried. Death had already taken so many loved ones from him.
For Marcel, the intimate is literary and the literary becomes intimate when he addresses Jean Ballard, with whom, at eighteen, he founded a review, then Jean Giono, whom he considers a genius. Other correspondents were Georges Simenon and the faithful Albert Cohen. The former was at the height of his fame and the latter was working on his great work – neither jealousy nor rivalry between them. They prophesied the atomic war: Pagnol considered leaving for Connecticut. Behind the scenes, Pierre Benoit intrigues to be received among the Immortals. Kessel recalls some memorable evenings and Maurice Druon is dazzled by late novels…
To read these letters is to share the life of a man and to penetrate the daily life of a creator, to understand the singular history of a French success story.
“Through the skilful blend of subtlety and simplicity, height of expression, purity of language and friendship, humor, tenderness and familiarity that is his entire style, Pagnol speaks to us as if by ear.Philippe Caubère
23 February 2023