Ruby's Reviews > The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
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's review
Jan 15, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: novels
Recommended to Ruby by: book club
Read in December, 2008

(Short fable) I was interested to learn that Jean Giono was a highly honored and influential French author. Perhaps I would have been more enchanted by this short fable had I been able to read it in the original French. Elzeard Bouffier is a solitary man who lives a sheltered life amid the devastation of two world wars and yet anonymously serves his fellowmen by planting thousands of trees. His devotion to reforesting the land eventually leads to the environmental rejuvenation and repopulation of the devasted and remote area he calls home. The story is told in a simple, straightforward manner as if it were fact rather than fiction. Beyond demonstrating the powerfully positive impact that one charitable person can have through simple acts of generousity, this story was thought-provoking to me because its message is conveyed against the backdrop of World Wars I and II. The wars made the history books but were there true unsung acts that were just as powerful in shaping people's lives during those times as the sweeping destruction caused by political decisions? As Giono wrote, "When you remembered that all this [rejuvenation:] had sprung from the hands and the soul of this one man, without technical resources, you understood that men could be as effectual as God in other realms than that of destruction." Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that when men become partners with God (who created the seeds Bouffier planted in the first place) without caring who gets the credit, then there is no limit to the good which will flow forth.

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