Jim's Reviews > Culotte The Donkey

Culotte The Donkey by Henri Bosco
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's review
Aug 20, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: childrens-lit, france
Read from August 19 to 20, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I read a lot of obscure books in hopes of finding one like this. Henri Bosco's Culotte the Donkey occupies that strange no-man's land between children's literature and adult fiction. It also occupies the middle ground between the old magic of the earth and Christianity, as represented by the good Father Chichambre. It is the story of a young Provencal boy named Constantin Gloriot who lives with his kindly grandparents in a small village in the South of France. Gradually, he becomes aware of a loner who lives up the mountain at a farmstead called Belle-Tuile. The loner is a Monsieur Cyprien, a former sea captain, who has created a paradise on earth out of a barren stretch of soil using his knowledge of old magic. In so doing, he has enchanted (most of) the animals.

But then, in every paradise there is a tree of the knowledge of good and evil ... and a serpent. As Father Chichambre says of M. Cyprien:
Suddenly, he felt that he was alone and forever. Solitude is a bad adviser. In three months, the demon drove him to murser; murder banished him from the garden. He set the trees on fire; then he fled.
At first, Culotte the Donkey appears to be about a sagacious donkey called Culotte (after the pantlike garments he wears on his forelegs to prevent him from the cold) who is a benign familiar to M. Cyprien's magic.

This is a wonderful book, and a surprising one. The moment the reader thinks he or she knows where the story is headed, Bosco throws a curve ball; and the story deepens. In the end, the story is a gentle parable about trying to construct one's own paradise. There appears to be some hard-wired restrictions to the success of such schemes.
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Reading Progress

08/19/2012 page 80 "[Father Chichambre's paradise] was one of those country paradises that group three cypresses around a well. Tenderly, he would show it to us, far away, behind a mass of plane trees with its six houses and the top of a squat steeple; and we said to ourselves that it would be good to live there. It was a paradise facing south, towards the warmth, a modest paradise...."
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Justeenetta (new)

Justeenetta you've read the once & future king, of course

message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Yes

message 3: by Justeenetta (new)

Justeenetta what trollope should I read next?

message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim How about Can You Forgive Her?, which I'm just finishing now. It's the first of his six Palliser novels.

message 5: by Justeenetta (new)

Justeenetta okay, will keep it in mind. the way we live was........indescribably neat. the ponze scheme especially, a template on how to do one correctly: when the security crashes buy it all back at the fallen price. trouble is those people, & many shopkeepers, don't keep enough back in order to do so, buy depleted stock etc........

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