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Twenty years ago Chelsea Green published the first trade edition of The Man Who Planted Trees, a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landsca Twenty years ago Chelsea Green published the first trade edition of The Man Who Planted Trees, a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape-from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water. Since our first publication, the book has sold over a quarter of a million copies and inspired countless numbers of people around the world to take action and plant trees. On National Arbor Day, April 29, 2005, Chelsea Green is releasing a special twentieth anniversary edition with a new foreword by Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the African Green Belt Movement.


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Twenty years ago Chelsea Green published the first trade edition of The Man Who Planted Trees, a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landsca Twenty years ago Chelsea Green published the first trade edition of The Man Who Planted Trees, a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape-from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water. Since our first publication, the book has sold over a quarter of a million copies and inspired countless numbers of people around the world to take action and plant trees. On National Arbor Day, April 29, 2005, Chelsea Green is releasing a special twentieth anniversary edition with a new foreword by Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the African Green Belt Movement.

30 review for The Man Who Planted Trees (Book & CD Bundle)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    I read this book in its entirety (a slim 46 pages) sitting alone in a cafe in Annecy, in the French Alps. I was on my way to Provence that week, and I had brought this book along with me on my trip with the explicit purpose of reading Giono in Provence, already considering Joy of Man's Desiring and Blue Boy two of the finest French novels I had encountered, but I didn't wait. So I sat and read it, such the typical American tourist, in a cafe in Annecy le Vieux over a carafe of Jura wine. Afterwo I read this book in its entirety (a slim 46 pages) sitting alone in a cafe in Annecy, in the French Alps. I was on my way to Provence that week, and I had brought this book along with me on my trip with the explicit purpose of reading Giono in Provence, already considering Joy of Man's Desiring and Blue Boy two of the finest French novels I had encountered, but I didn't wait. So I sat and read it, such the typical American tourist, in a cafe in Annecy le Vieux over a carafe of Jura wine. Afterword, I paid the bill and left and wandered up to the castle to look over the town, my head glowing with a half bottle of wine, and watched the shadows of the clouds move slowly over Lac Annecy and up the mountainside, and felt that strange feeling, a dream-like nostalgia for a lost world I never knew, that only Giono evokes so particularly. His supreme sensitivity to nature, how we submit our emotions to it, how it informs our hidden lives, how we look to it as a mirror of ourselves and seek it, even unconsciously, as a rejuvenation for the heaviness of our hearts, it is all here in this little fable. Giono is the antidote to all that ails me in the modern world. Simply one of my favorite writers. If you can find the Harvill Press editions of his books, they have lovely illustrations.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    We could learn from this if we really wanted to. “When I reflect that one man, armed only with his own physical and moral resources, was able to cause this land of Canaan to spring from the wasteland, I am convinced in spite of everything, humanity is admirable.” I am forever an optimist despite the things I have seen and know about human nature and the destructive nature of our society. Our history is truly a bloody one. But I believe that we are capable of being better and doing better We could learn from this if we really wanted to. “When I reflect that one man, armed only with his own physical and moral resources, was able to cause this land of Canaan to spring from the wasteland, I am convinced in spite of everything, humanity is admirable.” I am forever an optimist despite the things I have seen and know about human nature and the destructive nature of our society. Our history is truly a bloody one. But I believe that we are capable of being better and doing better and, for me, this otherwise unremarkable story captured that perfectly. It is a story about renewal and rebirth; it is a story about regeneration and the purity of a life lived for a good and selfless reason. The tree planter ignores the troubles of the world, the wars and the petty politics, and instead engages in an act that leads to his lasting happiness and the happiness of others; he quietly goes about his work (planting a vast forest amongst the ruins of war-torn Europe) without preamble and self-aggrandisement, instead recognising the importance of the work itself rather than the individual carrying it out: he completes a creative act worthy of God as our star struct narrator would have it. “When you remembered that all this had sprung from the hands and the soul of this one man, without technical resources, you understood that man could be as effectual as God in other realms than that of destruction.” I see the word “God” here as a very loose term. For the narrator of the story, it is the monotheistic version of the Christian bible. But for me, and I would also argue for the tree planter, the version of God celebrated here is mother nature. It is a celebration of life and creation and all the benefits that come with it. You could argue that they are one and the same, though I feel like the act has a certain universal quality to it that can be removed from its context and used as an important and powerful allegory regardless of the creator in question. I would also like to talk a little bit about the narrative here because it has an almost fable like quality to it. It is didacticism is evidential in how simple the story is and how much of it is handed to the reader in a neat little parcel with nothing left for the imagination. The idea behind the work is strong and clear and it is one of those books I believe has an exceedingly relevant parable to teach mankind. Nature is our healer, and salvation, that's all there is to it. It's easy, straightforward and waiting to be read. __________________________________ You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree. __________________________________

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    After more heavy rains followed by flooding in Cumbria the recommendation to minimise further problems was to plant more trees. This was plainly a sign to write a review of The Man Who Planted Trees, a task in a way I'd rather avoid (view spoiler)[ despite my vaunted intention to review each book I read since joining Goodreads (hide spoiler)] . The problem isn't that I disapprove of planting trees far from it (view spoiler)[ though I don't think that planting in massive blocks of single species i After more heavy rains followed by flooding in Cumbria the recommendation to minimise further problems was to plant more trees. This was plainly a sign to write a review of The Man Who Planted Trees, a task in a way I'd rather avoid (view spoiler)[ despite my vaunted intention to review each book I read since joining Goodreads (hide spoiler)] . The problem isn't that I disapprove of planting trees far from it (view spoiler)[ though I don't think that planting in massive blocks of single species is a particularly good idea (hide spoiler)] , and unlike Reader's Digest which rejected the story when they found out that it was fiction I don't have a particular problem with that. No. My feelings towards this story are like my feelings towards The Little Prince. I can see that many other people love it, but I am unimpressed and a little at a loss to explain why. Maybe part of the problem is my own romantic attachment to trees and tree planting, my whole hearted belief in the power of arborealisation to transform landscapes and communities for the better. In short I suffer all the symptoms of one born and brought up in the City who from their youngest years listened to other people's stories about growing up in and around forests. Yet The Man who planted Trees isn't about a man who planted trees, it is about the contrast between the author, and the author's France on the one side, and his imagined tree planter and his plantation on the other. On the one side is the exhaustion of the inter-war country and on the other the regeneration of part of the uplands of Provence - a kind of Jean de Florette but with trees in the place of Carnations, far fewer rabbits, and less murderousness (view spoiler)[ which reminds me once my parents asked me if they could borrow the film about a hunchback who inherits a farm in southern France, I think for a bit and say oh you must mean Jean de Florette and lent them the film, a while later I asked them if they enjoyed it, no, they said, shaking their heads, we must of been thinking about some other film in which a hunchback inherits a farm in Southern France. I had little idea this was such an established genre of French cinema (hide spoiler)] . Perhaps then again it is the effect of reading something that I feel and seeing it flat, bald, black on the page. The story doesn't equal my emotion and I poke at it irritably. Or maybe it is simply that it is a fable, admittedly a fable that has put on grown up clothes that flop about it, and my reaction is that this is the kind of thing best read to a child (view spoiler)[ so long as they are still gullible (hide spoiler)] . You could read to them and leave them to dream of trees spreading across bare, bleak hills - the inverse of poor Jocelin's dream in The Spire. A final idea. My only prior acquaintance with Jean Giono was watching part of The Horseman on the Roof in which a handsome man together with a handsome woman and a handsome horse have handsome adventures not limited to galloping about on town roofs (view spoiler)[I imagine it really buggers up your tiles, and then it'll start to rain, and will the insurance pay out for equine adventurousness on your roof? (hide spoiler)] . There's a limit to what you can do in a short story, particularly one which relies on tell don't show in order to concentrate on the contrast between tree level France and France as a modern state, and one way or the other the outcome didn't work for me. Also I don't think that using a big stick to shove nuts deep into the soil is the best way to encourage tree growth, generally speaking seeds are best planted their own depth into the soil. Perhaps The Man who planted Trees is a poor guide to planting trees.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    A magnificent but gently told short story featuring a narrator telling of just one man, shepherd Elzeard Bouffier, living at the foot of the Alps and the beloved countryside that he is clearly in harmony with. This evoked the feeling of reading a myth carrying with it a powerful message, that is written and inspired with total respect. The final few lines are some of the most moving I have come across. "When I reflect that one man, armed only with his own physical and moral resources, was able to A magnificent but gently told short story featuring a narrator telling of just one man, shepherd Elzeard Bouffier, living at the foot of the Alps and the beloved countryside that he is clearly in harmony with. This evoked the feeling of reading a myth carrying with it a powerful message, that is written and inspired with total respect. The final few lines are some of the most moving I have come across. "When I reflect that one man, armed only with his own physical and moral resources, was able to cause this land of Canaan to spring from the wasteland, I am convinced that in spite of everything, humanity is admirable. But when I compute the unfailing greatness of spirit and the tenacity of benevolence that it must have taken to achieve this result, I am taken with an immense respect for that old and unlearned peasant who was able to complete a work worthy of God." This is the sort of book that should be compulsory for schools, or for anyone out there that believes greenery is unimportant, so that hopefully future generations will realize that individuals can make a difference when putting their arms around mother earth.

  5. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4.5★~5 “For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years.” So begins this lovely story, almost a fairy tale, of a lone (not lonely) shepherd whom our narrator meets in a barren wasteland, tending a few sheep. He tells us he first met the shepherd while on a walk across a land where people must have once lived in houses that are now crumbling and deserted. “I was crossing the area at its widest point, an 4.5★~5 “For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years.” So begins this lovely story, almost a fairy tale, of a lone (not lonely) shepherd whom our narrator meets in a barren wasteland, tending a few sheep. He tells us he first met the shepherd while on a walk across a land where people must have once lived in houses that are now crumbling and deserted. “I was crossing the area at its widest point, and after three days’ walking, found myself in the midst of unparalleled desolation. I camped near the vestiges of an abandoned village. I had run out of water the day before, and had to find some. These clustered houses, although in ruins, like an old wasps’ nest, suggested that there must once have been a spring or well here. There was indeed a spring, but it was dry. The five or six houses, roofless, gnawed by wind and rain, the tiny chapel with its crumbling steeple, stood about like the houses and chapel in living villages, but all life had vanished.” He was looking for water and starting to get pretty nervous when he suddenly spotted the shepherd and his well-kept cottage. He was given water, a meal and a bed for the night. After dinner, the shepherd sifted through some acorns he’d collected, saying he was going to plant them. Our narrator thinks this is unlikely to be successful in a place like this. “. . . the wind blew with unendurable ferocity. It growled over the carcasses of the houses like a lion disturbed at its meal.” Long story short (or rather, short story shorter), the narrator returns from time to time, sees the changes, and later the area is unrecognisable – green, lush, springs running, mists over the valley. And the government is passing laws about protecting "natural forests" like this, and life goes on. The man who planted trees reclaimed the land, and you don’t need me to tell you the moral of the story. I loved it, but of course I’m inclined to, being such a fan of trees. And I always enjoy a story where someone prevails because they took that first step, in spite of well-meaning friends who said don’t bother. What's that old saying about the longest journey starts with the first step? :) This was a story I found through the Reading For Pleasure group on Goodreads, and if you’d like to see more of these, here’s the discussion link where you’ll find the Breakfast Club. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group... And here’s a link to the PDF of this little tale. http://www.idph.net/conteudos/ebooks/... Have a look at the author’s credentials on Goodreads. He was an interesting man. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... I'd recommend this one for teachers as a good discussion topic for both the subject (the natural world) and the writing. This was a French story in 1953. Universal and timeless. A 30-minute, animated short film won the 1988 Academy Award for the category. It’s on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/KTvYh8ar3tc

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    The Man Who Planted Trees is a magical allegorical tale by the French writer Jean Giorno. It reads like a fable, in which we follow the unknown narrator - an everyman - through a particularly dry and desolate area of France, “that ancient region where the Alps thrust down into Provence”. He wanders for day after day, sometimes becoming dangerously short of water. It is at a time like this that: “I camped near the vestiges of an abandoned village … The five or six houses, roofless, gnawed by wind The Man Who Planted Trees is a magical allegorical tale by the French writer Jean Giorno. It reads like a fable, in which we follow the unknown narrator - an everyman - through a particularly dry and desolate area of France, “that ancient region where the Alps thrust down into Provence”. He wanders for day after day, sometimes becoming dangerously short of water. It is at a time like this that: “I camped near the vestiges of an abandoned village … The five or six houses, roofless, gnawed by wind and rain, the tiny chapel with its crumbling steeple, stood about like the houses and chapels in living villages, but all life had vanished … over this unsheltered land high in the sky, the wind blew with unendurable ferocity. It growled over the carcasses of the houses like a lion disturbed at its meal … “After five hours’ walking I had still not found water and there was nothing to give me any hope of finding any. All about me was the same dryness, the same coarse grasses.” We feel acutely, the desolation of this unforgiving landscape. Yet here, alone, lives the man of the story’s title, Elzéard Bouffier. He is not really a hermit, as he is quite willing to talk, and share what he has. Nor is he careworn, or living in appalling conditions. The narrator describes quite the opposite, and is intrigued by Elzéard Bouffier, who has chosen to live apart from the world, as a quiet shepherd, whose life is nevertheless filled with industry of his own making: “The shepherd went to fetch a small sack and poured out a heap of acorns on the table. He began to inspect them, one by one, with great concentration, separating the good from the bad … When he had thus selected one hundred perfect acorns he stopped and we went to bed.” The narrator, although impressed, forgot about this strange man, and followed the path of his own life. In 1914, he became an infantryman in World War I, and was involved for the next five years. However, he chanced to visit the area afterwards, and saw that Elzéard Bouffier was still hard at work on his project. When he had first met the shepherd: “For three years [Elzéard Bouffier] had been planting trees in this wilderness. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of the hundred thousand, twenty thousand had sprouted. Of the twenty thousand he still expected to lose about half, to rodents or to the unpredictable designs of Providence. There remained ten thousand oak trees to grow where nothing had grown before … He had withdrawn into this solitude where his pleasure was to live leisurely with his lambs and his dog. It was his opinion that this land was dying for want of trees. He added that, having no very pressing business of his own, he had resolved to remedy this state of affairs.“ Now “he showed me handsome clumps of birch planted five years before–that is, in 1915, when I had been fighting at Verdun.” The contrast between these two ways of life is what we are most aware of. The destruction of war, and the creation of possibilities for life to germinate, and thrive. “Creation seemed to come about in a sort of chain reaction. He did not worry about it, he was determinedly pursuing his task in all its simplicity; but as we went back toward the village I saw water flowing in brooks that had been dry since human memory … “To have anything like a precise idea of this exceptional character one must not forget that he worked in total solitude: so total that, toward the end of his life, he lost the habit of speech. Or perhaps it was that he saw no need for it.” Of course an area like this which suddenly seemed to be flourishing, attracted visits from the Forest Service, and various official bodies. Once a “delegation came from the Government to examine the “natural forest.”” We appreciate the irony of this. The narrator says that a friend of his was among the forestry officers of the delegation. “Before leaving, my friend simply made a brief suggestion about certain species of trees that the soil here seemed particularly suited for. He did not force the point. “For the very good reason,” he told me later, “that Bouffier knows more about it than I do.” At the end of an hour’s walking–having turned it over in his mind–he added, “He knows a lot more about it than anybody. He’s discovered a wonderful way to be happy!” We know the events in history which loom large, and see the potential for another deliberate pairing of the two opposites, of growth and destruction; of order and chaos. We wonder how the story will end. (view spoiler)[In the story, time passed, and Elzéard Bouffier seemed to be unaware that there was another World War, in which the narrator was again engaged from 1939. But after the war ended, the narrator once again visited the area, fully expecting the shepherd to have been killed, or simply starved to death, like so many. He was staggered by what he found. “Everything was changed. Even the air. Instead of the harsh dry winds that used to attack me, a gentle breeze was blowing, laden with scents. A sound like water came from the mountains: it was the wind in the forest. Most amazing of all, I heard the actual sound of water falling into a pool.” The narrator wandered further, musing on the remarkable achievements of one man, and enchanted by what he saw. “Hope, then, had returned. Ruins had been cleared away, dilapidated walls torn down and five houses restored. Now there were twentyeight inhabitants, four of them young married couples. The new houses, freshly plastered, were surrounded by gardens where vegetables and flowers grew in orderly confusion, cabbages and roses, leeks and snapdragons, celery and anemones. It was now a village where one would like to live. “It has taken only the eight years since then for the whole countryside to glow with health and prosperity. On the site of ruins I had seen in 1913 now stand neat farms, cleanly plastered, testifying to a happy and comfortable life.” (hide spoiler)] Jean Giono, the author of this tale, had humble origins as the only son of a cobbler and a laundress, yet he rose to be one of France’s greatest writers. He won many accolades and awards, including the Légion d’Honneur. Yet for this story, he earned not a sou! It was originally told in French but first published in English. His daughter, Aline Giono, said it had been “a family story for a long time”. However, this was merely bolstering up a myth. The Man Who Planted Trees is such a moving and unforgettable tale, that when it was told and published, many readers believed that Elzéard Bouffier was a real person, and that Jean Giono had written himself into the story as the narrator, making it partly autobiographical. The time period certainly fitted, but this is not so. As he explained in a 1957 letter to an official, “Sorry to disappoint you, but Elzéard Bouffier is a fictional person. The goal was to make trees likeable, or more specifically, make planting trees likeable.” After the horrors and carnage he experienced on the front lines during the First World War, Jean Giono became a lifelong pacifist. While he still was alive though, Jean Giono enjoyed letting people believe that the story was true. It remains one of the stories of which he was the most proud, despite his prodigious output including thirty novels. Yet he loved this this little tale, considering the legend it inspired as a compliment to his story-telling skills. Certainly, it is one which will stay with me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Warwick

    This slender Provençal parable was – bizarrely – originally composed for a Reader's Digest competition which asked people to write about ‘The most unforgettable character I've met’. Giono's response was to produce this simple, bucolic tale about a lone shepherd who takes it upon himself to plant trees singlehandedly across vast swathes of the Provençal Alps. The landscape which, at the start of the story in the 1910s, is desolate and bleak, has become by the end, in the late 1940s, a sort of rura This slender Provençal parable was – bizarrely – originally composed for a Reader's Digest competition which asked people to write about ‘The most unforgettable character I've met’. Giono's response was to produce this simple, bucolic tale about a lone shepherd who takes it upon himself to plant trees singlehandedly across vast swathes of the Provençal Alps. The landscape which, at the start of the story in the 1910s, is desolate and bleak, has become by the end, in the late 1940s, a sort of rural paradise of lush woodland, running streams, and happy red-cheeked villagers. It's a narrative with obvious ecological appeal, as well as carrying a message of humanist hopefulness: Quand on se souvenait que tout était sorti des mains et de l'âme de cet homme, sans moyens techniques, on comprenait que les hommes pourraient être aussi efficaces que Dieu dans d'autres domaines que la destruction. The contrast with destruction is important, since the narrative is twice interrupted – significantly, if discreetly – by world wars. Giono himself fought at Verdun, and found naturally enough that the experience had made him a committed pacifist. (He took this position pretty far, famously asking in 1937, ‘What's the worst that could happen if Germany does invade France?’) The simple, easy prose style turns this stance into something that feels timeless, like a fable. In contrast to the dark ambiguity of the classic pre-modern legends and fairytales, I find that modern myths often have a sort of clunking unsubtlety to them – Paolo Coelho, for example. This is nowhere near that bad, but I must admit I'm a little cautious about a story whose conclusion is that ‘malgré tout, la condition humaine est admirable’, which perhaps risks encouraging a little too much complacency in the reader. Then again, sometimes you need a bit of encouragement, and certainly this short story has a message to deliver and captures the landscape of Haute Provence with great sensitivity.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lynne King

    I had happened to see Warwick's review of this book in French and I realized that I had never rated it. My book, as you can see, is the English version. A fabulous, tiny, simple book about a man in France who planted acorns. The wood engravings by Michael McCurdy are superb and worth getting the book purely for that reason. I had happened to see Warwick's review of this book in French and I realized that I had never rated it. My book, as you can see, is the English version. A fabulous, tiny, simple book about a man in France who planted acorns. The wood engravings by Michael McCurdy are superb and worth getting the book purely for that reason.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    I think peoples’ opinions on this book are based more on the message of the book rather than the story itself. It’s the story of a shepherd who plants trees over many years, slowly transforming his barren part of the world into a flourishing fecund forest during the years of the First and Second World Wars. And despite the destruction the trees remain. The message - man’s capacity for creation is as great, if not greater, than his own for destruction. And godlike acts can be done by anybody, eve I think peoples’ opinions on this book are based more on the message of the book rather than the story itself. It’s the story of a shepherd who plants trees over many years, slowly transforming his barren part of the world into a flourishing fecund forest during the years of the First and Second World Wars. And despite the destruction the trees remain. The message - man’s capacity for creation is as great, if not greater, than his own for destruction. And godlike acts can be done by anybody, even an uneducated shepherd. A fine message I agree, and with strong environmental imagery this is something many people have latched onto as literature for people who care about nature. Sure, except… Except it’s a short story not a book. If you took away the large font and the page long woodcuts (though they are an excellent addition) and put the story into a regular font on regular sized paper (the paper used here is especially small) you’d wind up with a story maybe half a dozen pages long. And the story is especially simple. Man plants trees, trees grow, man dies. The end. The writing is ok but not spectacular, nor is the story especially memorable. Really it’s just a very average short story that nonetheless has become something of a popular classic because of it’s accessibility and positive message. “The Man Who Planted Trees” is not the best read nor as profound as others would have you believe and is one of the few books I’ve read where I’ve found just reading the title would have told me everything about the book without having to read it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Arghya

    For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake. An amazingly relaxing and uplifting allegorical story of a man, Elzeard Bouffier, who, in the For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake. An amazingly relaxing and uplifting allegorical story of a man, Elzeard Bouffier, who, in the solitary and barren lands near Alps, planted trees and did nothing else, and, surprisingly, was very content with his life. Bouffier lived alone in that desolate land not only undaunted by its bareness but also quite enjoyed it. He had a penchant for meticulousness and order in his life: “His roof was strong and sound. The wind on its tiles made the sound of the sea upon its shore.” For over forty years while two world wars raged, scarred the face of earth and passed by; he kept planting trees. When I reflect that one man, armed only with his physical and moral resources, was able to cause this land of Canaan to spring from the wasteland, I am convinced that in spite of everything, humanity is admirable. A short story that tells us about the meaning of life in a serene and gentle way. Though it was, sadly, an allegorical tale, Bouffier do have real life counterparts. Highly recommended. PS: Found that Frédéric Back made this book into an Academy award winning flim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_7yE...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alma

    “For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    This is one of my all-time favorite texts. I have had a copy for as long as I can remember and I re-read it at least once a year and I let the incredible writing and the beautiful story wash over me. It never fails to make me feel hopeful and happy. A very short novella, “L’Homme qui Plantait des Arbres” tells the deceptively simple story of a nameless man who was once wandering through the hills of southern France and met an extraordinary character: Elzéar Bouffier. This old shepherd lived all a This is one of my all-time favorite texts. I have had a copy for as long as I can remember and I re-read it at least once a year and I let the incredible writing and the beautiful story wash over me. It never fails to make me feel hopeful and happy. A very short novella, “L’Homme qui Plantait des Arbres” tells the deceptively simple story of a nameless man who was once wandering through the hills of southern France and met an extraordinary character: Elzéar Bouffier. This old shepherd lived all alone in a small house, tended his flock and planted acorns. This seems like such a waste of time and effort at first, but over the years, the once arid hills slowly become covered in luscious plant life, small abandoned villages are repopulated and the entire country side comes back to life. The obvious moral of this little tale – even small actions can lead to big changes - is overshadowed by the absolute beauty of the language Giono uses to describe his home country. Along with Pagnol and Daudet, he is one of those writers who have made Provence into this mythical land of sun, cicadas, olive trees, old stone farms and dreams. These men had a gift for making this small part of the world feel more beautiful than anywhere else you can imagine. When I visited Marseille and walked a bit in the country side, their words resonated in my head, their extreme sensitivity to nature perfectly understandable when you stand in the breathtaking landscapes that inspired them. The story of a lonely old man, who with great care, selflessly reforests an entire desolate region simply because he can is also very inspiring. It reminds me of Buddhist stories about solitary monks and hermits who changed the world with the strength of their loving kindness. Giono’s fable rejuvenates something in me at every read. Not faith, but belief that the toxic modern world is not all there is, that simplicity and beauty still exist and that good people walk around on our planet, often unseen, but changing the universe at an almost molecular level. Deserts can be covered with flowers with enough care and time. I recommend this deeply moving little book to everyone. It is barely 50 pages, and can be read in a single sitting. I suggest a sun-bathed terrace as your setting and a glass of wine to accompany your reading. This is a tiny book to be savored like a precious vintage.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    What a hopeful and encouraging story this is. It is about the difference that one person can make and how one positive action can release a chain reaction of ….Set from 1913 to 1949, it spans two world wars and, at a time when man is involved in so much destruction, here is a man who is building something. When you remembered that all this had sprung from the hands and the soul of this one man, without technical resources, you understood that humans could be as effectual as God in other realms th What a hopeful and encouraging story this is. It is about the difference that one person can make and how one positive action can release a chain reaction of ….Set from 1913 to 1949, it spans two world wars and, at a time when man is involved in so much destruction, here is a man who is building something. When you remembered that all this had sprung from the hands and the soul of this one man, without technical resources, you understood that humans could be as effectual as God in other realms than that of destruction. His efforts restore the forest, but that is the first step only...what happens after is that nature takes over and begins to replenish all the good things that have been lost. With the blossoming of nature, comes the restoration of the villages and the men. Hunters, climbing into the wilderness in pursuit of hares or wild boar, had of course noticed the sudden growth of little trees, but had attributed it to some natural caprice of the earth. That is why no one meddled with Elzeard Bouffier’s work. If he had been detected he would have had opposition. He was indetectable. Who in the villages or in the administration could have dreamed of such perseverance in a magnificent generosity? Seems sad, but accurate, to me that had he been “detected” he would have been stopped. It also seemed sad to me that he would never be appreciated or credited with what he had done. But, then, he did not do it for that reason. He was not seeking praise, he was seeking to restore the land, and he had done everything he set out, without any fanfare, to do.

  14. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    This endearing miniature book from Shambhala Pocket Classics measures exactly 4 ½ by 3 inches. I read it very gingerly, turning each tiny page with as much delicacy as I might caress a newborn. This little book is so cunningly crafted. I am such a fan of mini-books! The Man Who Planted Trees is a modern-day parable about, well of course, what the title says, a modern day (relatively speaking) man who plants trees, a French Johnny Appleseed. Would that it was genuine and not just a fable! Then th This endearing miniature book from Shambhala Pocket Classics measures exactly 4 ½ by 3 inches. I read it very gingerly, turning each tiny page with as much delicacy as I might caress a newborn. This little book is so cunningly crafted. I am such a fan of mini-books! The Man Who Planted Trees is a modern-day parable about, well of course, what the title says, a modern day (relatively speaking) man who plants trees, a French Johnny Appleseed. Would that it was genuine and not just a fable! Then there is the teaching aspect—look what just one person can do with humility, no desire for recognition or recompense, quiet perseverance, and an abiding commitment to restore the land to its pristine beauty. The story’s narrator traveling in bleak parts encounters a lone shepherd, Elzéard Bouffier, 55 years old, who is embarked on planting oak trees from his carefully selected acorns. As the adventure unfolds, the narrator returns again after the First World War to find Bouffier a little older, but still strong and hard at work planting trees. He has ventured out from oaks to beech and birch and traded in his sheep for bees. The oak trees are tall now and have already begun to transform the bleak countryside. And with each subsequent return of the narrator the land shows more and more signs of recovery. Without spoiling the end, I can tell you this is a book which all ages can appreciate and will enjoy. I knew the story before having read the book from viewing a movie adaptation at a recent renewal. Both—the movie and the book—are identical so far as memory serves. In fact, the visualization from the movie seemed very similar to the black and white wood engravings in the book. No artist here, so forgive me if I don’t use the correct terminology. An unexpected benefit from the book was the Afterword by Norma Goodrich. On August 15, 1970 she interviewed the author, Jean Giono, who was then dying of heart disease in his home town of Manosque, France where he lived most of his life. She speaks of him and her experience of meeting him in radiant terms. I can only imagine what it must have meant to her. Just reading about it is exciting to me. He shared more than just his life’s story, but his philosophy as well, such as his belief that the plant kingdom was coequal to the animal kingdom. Certainly, Giono’s deep respect for the forests and the trees would have resonated with J.R.R. Tolkien as evidenced by his personification of the Ents in the The Lord of the Rings. For such a tiny little book, and an insignificant price, this book is worth every cent. It would make an excellent gift as well. MOST highly recommended!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This quote from the book sums it up: "When you remembered that it had all emerged from the hands and spirit of this one man, without any technical aids, you saw that men could be as efficient as God in other things beside destruction." I do recommend this book. It's a very small time commitment and provides comforting message. This quote from the book sums it up: "When you remembered that it had all emerged from the hands and spirit of this one man, without any technical aids, you saw that men could be as efficient as God in other things beside destruction." I do recommend this book. It's a very small time commitment and provides comforting message.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    After long, long consideration, I changed my 3 stars into 4 stars. It is awesome, inspiring, and deeply moving. This is the essence of writing reviews of books. I can understand a book more deeply. Besides, I love reading this kind of story. It has almost something to do with God’s Providence despite the fact that I have frozen my faith. What lobbied me? First, I liked the way Jean Giono himself introduced his story by giving us his wisdom. “ For a human character to reveal truly exceptional quali After long, long consideration, I changed my 3 stars into 4 stars. It is awesome, inspiring, and deeply moving. This is the essence of writing reviews of books. I can understand a book more deeply. Besides, I love reading this kind of story. It has almost something to do with God’s Providence despite the fact that I have frozen my faith. What lobbied me? First, I liked the way Jean Giono himself introduced his story by giving us his wisdom. “ For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled ge- nerosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.” Writing this part guided me to understand the crux of the story. Second, the themes are about solitude, human spirit, simplicity, and environment. Solitude I have this Trappist attitude. I prefer spending time doing things I want to do on my own. Not that I am a sociopath. In doing so is the way I find happiness and peacefulness. For sure, it is universal. But in the end, it is a choice. Human spirit As what the banal saying goes, “Nothing is impossible. “ We can do things we find idealistic in a simple and humble way. You do not need to be flamboyant. Simplicity Although life has many choices, we can still find happiness and peacefulness in leading a simple life. Environment I used to be an aggressive environmentalist. Reading this story chastened me that the key to saving our barren earth is human spirit. Sadly, I am still discouraged to advocate it again; I have backslid to self-delusion. Finally, it is absolutely well-written. Every sentence is so smooth, meditative. It is apparent that Jean Giono had a deep impression. Jean Giono is considered as one of France’s greatest writers. His prodigious literary output included stories, essays, poetry, plays, filmscripts, translations and over thirty novels, many of which have been translated into English. He was a pacifist, and was twice imprisoned in France at the outset and conclusion of World War II. ( Ref.: http://www.idph.net) So, don’t dare demote it to 2 stars. Take a stab at the French raconteur. He could make a big difference. ^^

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hákon Gunnarsson

    I like this short story. The simplest description of it is: a man plants trees to turn a barren land into green, lively one. He starts this mission when he looses his family. But it is a allegorical tale so there is a little more to it. This character is trying to make the world a better place. While people around him are busy fighting World War I and II, by killing, burning, bombing and all the rest of the distruction that people are forced to take part in while fighting wars, he is not destroy I like this short story. The simplest description of it is: a man plants trees to turn a barren land into green, lively one. He starts this mission when he looses his family. But it is a allegorical tale so there is a little more to it. This character is trying to make the world a better place. While people around him are busy fighting World War I and II, by killing, burning, bombing and all the rest of the distruction that people are forced to take part in while fighting wars, he is not destroying anything, but building up. So there is a pacifist message in all this tree planting. There is also a ecological message here because he is helping nature to grow again, and not turing it to cash by destroying it. Another angle is that it is saying that one man can make a difference. He didn't stop the wars, but he gave that barren land life. One can find a lot of things under the surface of this story, and what is more, all these allegorical angles work for me. For that reason I think it is a good short story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    (Available in English as "The man who planted trees"; Original title: "L`homme qui plantait des arbres") A very moving and poetic short story about a French shepherd who over dozens of years and throughout two world wars plants thousands of trees, thus re-vitalizing whole swaths of land and improving the lives of thousands of people. First published in 1953, the text has remained relevant, and it is no wonder that its author Jean Giono declared that this is one of his works that he is particularl (Available in English as "The man who planted trees"; Original title: "L`homme qui plantait des arbres") A very moving and poetic short story about a French shepherd who over dozens of years and throughout two world wars plants thousands of trees, thus re-vitalizing whole swaths of land and improving the lives of thousands of people. First published in 1953, the text has remained relevant, and it is no wonder that its author Jean Giono declared that this is one of his works that he is particularly proud of: It reflects his love of nature, his pantheistic convictions, and the belief that a single man can make a difference if he puts his heart into it. The narrative voice is very clear and direct, the text does not require extensive efforts to decipher its meaning and the message can easily be understood by anybody - and from this lyrical simplicity, Giono distills enormous beauty. Giono's short story was turned into a movie that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1987 (it was the second Oscar for its director Frédéric Back, who was born in my hometown). Many copies of the book come with beautiful illustrations, so look out for one of them.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Trees have been a surprise recurring theme in my 2018 reading. This spare allegory from a Provençal author is all about the difference one person can make. The narrator meets a shepherd and beekeeper named Elzéard Bouffier who plants as many acorns as he can; “it struck him that this part of the country was dying for lack of trees, and having nothing much else to do he decided to put things right.” Decades pass and two world wars do their worst, but very little changes in the countryside. Old Bo Trees have been a surprise recurring theme in my 2018 reading. This spare allegory from a Provençal author is all about the difference one person can make. The narrator meets a shepherd and beekeeper named Elzéard Bouffier who plants as many acorns as he can; “it struck him that this part of the country was dying for lack of trees, and having nothing much else to do he decided to put things right.” Decades pass and two world wars do their worst, but very little changes in the countryside. Old Bouffier has led an unassuming but worthwhile life. There’s not very much to this story, though I appreciated the message about doing good even if you won’t get any recognition or even live to see the fruits of your labor. What’s most interesting about it is the publication history: it was commissioned by Reader’s Digest for a series on “The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met,” and though the magazine accepted it with rapture, there was belated outrage when they realized it was fiction. It was later included in a German anthology of biography, too! No one recognized it as a fable; this became a sort of literary in-joke, as Giono’s daughter Aline reveals in a short afterword. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    I loved the wood engravings. The message of the story is inspirational. The planting of the trees/the trees themselves, wonderful. The execution of the telling of the story and some of the details of the story, I found less interesting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    A beautiful fable that many who read it thought was about a real person. More to come. 5 stars

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    A good read for the new year. "He was planting oak trees. I asked him if the land belonged to him. He answered no. Did he know whose it was? He did not. He supposed it was community property, or perhaps belonged to people who cared nothing about it. He was not interested in finding out whose it was. He planted his hundred acorns with the greatest care." "For three years he had been planting trees in this wilderness. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of the hundred thousand, twenty thousand had A good read for the new year. "He was planting oak trees. I asked him if the land belonged to him. He answered no. Did he know whose it was? He did not. He supposed it was community property, or perhaps belonged to people who cared nothing about it. He was not interested in finding out whose it was. He planted his hundred acorns with the greatest care." "For three years he had been planting trees in this wilderness. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of the hundred thousand, twenty thousand had sprouted. Of the twenty thousand he still expected to lose about half, to rodents or to the unpredictable designs of Providence. There remained ten thousand oak trees to grow where nothing had grown before." "He answered quite simply that if God granted him life, in thirty years he would have planted so many more that these ten thousand would be like a drop of water in the ocean." "Creation seemed to come about in a sort of chain reaction. He did not worry about it; he was determinedly pursuing his task in all its simplicity; but as we went back toward the village I saw water flowing in brooks that had been dry since the memory of man... The wind, too, scattered seeds. As the water reappeared, so there reappeared willows, rushes, meadows, gardens, flowers, and a certain purpose in being alive. But the transformation took place so gradually that it became part of the pattern without causing any astonishment." Afterword: "It is one of my stories of which I am the proudest. It does not bring me in one single penny and that is why it has accomplished what it was written for."

  23. 4 out of 5

    ♡ Booklish ⛈ ☔Feelings ♡

    For the love of Trees , please read this book This book has inspired many people to plant trees . The book was published in 1953 and written by Jean Giono . For many years people thought the book was inspired by a real story . Even Giono's family thought that so . The book describe the story of a sheperd Elzeared Bouffier . He planted thousands of trees in barren land . The writer visits him regularly and tells about his plantation work . I myself a tree lover and love to plant trees . This i For the love of Trees , please read this book This book has inspired many people to plant trees . The book was published in 1953 and written by Jean Giono . For many years people thought the book was inspired by a real story . Even Giono's family thought that so . The book describe the story of a sheperd Elzeared Bouffier . He planted thousands of trees in barren land . The writer visits him regularly and tells about his plantation work . I myself a tree lover and love to plant trees . This is a very short book adcan be read in less than 20 minutes . “Creation seemed to come about in a sort of chain reaction. He did not worry about it; he was determinedly pursuing his task in all its simplicity; but as we went back towards the village I saw water flowing in Brooks that had been dry since the memory of man. This was the most impressive result of chain reaction that I had seen. These dry streams had once, long ago, run with water.” ― Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees Happy reading ..

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Kiernan

    In rural Vermont where I live, the soils are predominantly clay. As a result, every home sits on a lot of five acres or more, so the septic systems cannot taint the water wells. Like nearly all of my neighbors, I actually live on a fraction of the land -- about one-third of an acre. The rest is idle (except for the enterprises of critters and birds and fireflies who are quite busy nine months of the year). I've begun a very small effort to populate the land with trees, having learned from variou In rural Vermont where I live, the soils are predominantly clay. As a result, every home sits on a lot of five acres or more, so the septic systems cannot taint the water wells. Like nearly all of my neighbors, I actually live on a fraction of the land -- about one-third of an acre. The rest is idle (except for the enterprises of critters and birds and fireflies who are quite busy nine months of the year). I've begun a very small effort to populate the land with trees, having learned from various readings that my acreage could support perhaps 1,200 of them, and thereby offset the atmospheric carbon that I produce. If it works, I'll share surplus saplings with neighbors, and perhaps other towns, and in some years this area might serve as a kind of carbon sink -- a modest contribution to reducing the form of air pollution that currently endangers our planet. As side effects, we might see more birds and critters hereabouts too. I'm no forester, and know that this idea may prove to be a pipedream. But when I discussed it with a friend, she loaned me this excellent book, which tells the story of a man in a remote region of France who turned a wasteland into a wilderness. His method? The continuous planting of trees. Saplings, really. It was a great pleasure to encounter this story again, its simplicity and grace, its mythic power. This particular edition has the appeal of evocative wood carvings. It also contains some of the book's backstory, including an investigation about whether it might be true. To me, that could not matter less, because after only a few pages the reader recognizes the ring of emotional truth, which is legendary and lasting regardless of available historical facts. If you haven't read this story in a few years, please treat yourself. It is a sweet reminder of the immense power of small incremental deeds. Also it is stirring, because it contains the lesson that planting a tree is a visible form of hope.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Onur

    A good entrance with description of unforgettable person, a peaceful person. He plants some tree to wherever he reaches. It is nice and short story. Main theme of book is significant.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Himanshu Karmacharya

    Finished it in one sitting. Given that the book isn't very long, but the power of the writer to grip the mind of the readers is what keeps them glued to the book, regardless of the number of pages. And this is where Jean Giono has succeeded in his book. The book is written in a very simple but realistic manner, while sending an optimistic and inspiring message. It is written so well that, for a moment, I believed the story to be actually true. Though it isn't, the book doesn't fail to imply that Finished it in one sitting. Given that the book isn't very long, but the power of the writer to grip the mind of the readers is what keeps them glued to the book, regardless of the number of pages. And this is where Jean Giono has succeeded in his book. The book is written in a very simple but realistic manner, while sending an optimistic and inspiring message. It is written so well that, for a moment, I believed the story to be actually true. Though it isn't, the book doesn't fail to imply that it is still possible to make this story a reality.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This is a quiet story that has lasting resonance for me as I was lucky enough to plant trees in a barren wasteland of South India some years ago beside a man of simple but unwavering faith,and a young woman of unbounded enthusiasm,love and laughter, and return over the years to find wooded hillsides and crops flourishing beside them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nyamka Ganni

    Highly recommended!! It really is an amazing story. Truly inspirational and wonderful story about the man who planted trees in solitude. He never expected applause, nor recognition for his miracle work! He just focused on his work silently and revived nature, all alone!! Let's plant trees whenever possible! Highly recommended!! Highly recommended!! It really is an amazing story. Truly inspirational and wonderful story about the man who planted trees in solitude. He never expected applause, nor recognition for his miracle work! He just focused on his work silently and revived nature, all alone!! Let's plant trees whenever possible! Highly recommended!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zuberino

    Beautiful allegory, narrated in such compelling fashion by the author as to be utterly believable - even after you find out that Giono made up the whole thing, even THEN you want to believe in the saintly goodness of the Alpine shepherd Elzeard Bouffier. Were it better known, this fable could well be a foundation text of modern day environmental movements - a bit like Carson’s Silent Spring, only different. Gorgeous woodcut illustrations by Harry Brockway, that only add to the power of the text.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jigar Brahmbhatt

    Read this wonderful, heartwarming tale, and then watch the 1987 short animation film based on Jean Giono's vision of hope. It should take not more than three hours of your life. But if you'd ponder (or worry) about nature and what it ultimately means to us as a result, even for a day, you would have totally earned it. If it is true that readers are relatively good at heart, maybe because they become more empathic by exploring lives other than their own, then it is to the innate goodness of such Read this wonderful, heartwarming tale, and then watch the 1987 short animation film based on Jean Giono's vision of hope. It should take not more than three hours of your life. But if you'd ponder (or worry) about nature and what it ultimately means to us as a result, even for a day, you would have totally earned it. If it is true that readers are relatively good at heart, maybe because they become more empathic by exploring lives other than their own, then it is to the innate goodness of such stories that we are indebted to.

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