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The Man Who Planted Trees

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Simply written, but powerful and unforgettable, The Man Who Planted Trees is a parable for modern times. In the foothills of the French Alps the narrator meets a shepherd who has quietly taken on the task of planting one hundred acorns a day in an effort to reforest his desolate region. Not even two world wars can keep the shepherd from continuing his solitary work. Gradually, this gentle, persistent man's work comes to the region is transformed; life and hope return; the world is renewed.

74 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1953

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About the author

Jean Giono

274 books287 followers
Jean Giono, the only son of a cobbler and a laundress, was one of France’s greatest writers. His prodigious literary output included stories, essays, poetry, plays, film scripts, translations and over thirty novels, many of which have been translated into English.

Giono was a pacifist, and was twice imprisoned in France at the outset and conclusion of World War II.

He remained tied to Provence and Manosque, the little city where he was born in 1895 and, in 1970, died.

Giono was awarded the Prix Bretano, the Prix de Monaco (for the most outstanding
collected work by a French writer), the Légion d’Honneur, and he was
a member of the Académie Goncourt.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,591 reviews
Profile Image for Geoff.
444 reviews1,232 followers
March 18, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Pakinam Mahmoud.
813 reviews3,494 followers
August 26, 2023
الرجل الذي زرع أشجاراً..قصة قصيرة عن رجل وحيد وجد سعادته في زراعة الأشجار معتمداً علي نفسه وعلي إمكانياته البسيطة حتي أستطاع أن يحول إقليم مقفر الي غابة رائعة الجمال...

ترجم الكتاب الي العديد من اللغات و تحول إلي فيلم رسوم متحركة قصير وحصل علي جائزة الأوسكار عام ١٩٨٨ ...
القصة حجمها صغير بس مكتوبة حلو وتحس إنك بتقرأ مقالة عن شخصية حقيقية بس هي كلها من وحي خيال الكاتب..
كتاب خفيف و فيه فكرة حلوة..
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,028 reviews373 followers
June 9, 2021
Hip Hip Hip, Hurra

Logo após a visita guiada aos infernos que a leitura de "Quem Governa O Mundo?" me proporcionou, dei de caras e por acaso com "O Homem Que Plantava Árvores".
Bem!... Foi como vislumbrar Luz ao fundo do túnel!
Andava eu a afundar-me em águas turvas , quando um Anjo diligente, daqueles que surgem sempre nos momentos certos, se apiedou de mim, arremessando-me uma bóia salvadora!... ;)

Num período de flagelos e destruição (a guerra de 1914-18), um pastor, um homem simples e solitário, atira umas centenas de bolotas terra adentro e:

KABUM -- O Nada Faz-se Tudo!!!

Uma terra inóspita, árida, dá lugar a uma floresta de carvalhos, áceres, faias... e pequenos bosques de bétulas por onde serpenteiam alegremente alguns riachos.
O que outrora fôra um deserto despovoado, era agora um local de felicidade celebrada , partilhado por numerosas famílias!...

Parece fábula mas é a mais pura realidade!
Elzéard Bouffier existiu mesmo e é um ícone, um símbolo, uma prova viva do poder milagroso do "Homem que Cultiva o seu Jardim"!!!
E acresce referir que foi um deleite conhecê-lo -- a sua Generosidade é tocante e a sua Paz contagiante...


"O Homem Que Plantava Árvores" presenteia-nos com um Mundo para lá dos Infernos, apontando-nos um Caminho:

Simplicidade, Paz e uma Causa Nobre

Uma fórmula simples, que merece ser celebrada - Venha daí o champanhe: Tchim, Tchim ;) :)

São 5 estrelas cintilantes :))
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
January 9, 2021
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.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,487 reviews843 followers
March 29, 2022
“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? :)

And here’s a link to this tale.

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.

Winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film
The 30-minute film is on YouTube here: https://archive.org/details/TheManWho...
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,494 reviews2,376 followers
September 28, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,565 reviews1,893 followers
January 9, 2019
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 .

The problem isn't that I disapprove of planting trees far from it , 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 .

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 . 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 . 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.
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,257 reviews1,132 followers
January 9, 2021
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.

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.
Profile Image for Warwick.
844 reviews14.6k followers
July 25, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Rosie.
341 reviews38 followers
March 28, 2018

ABSOLUTAMENTE maravilhoso!

Lê-se de um fôlego e retém-se para a vida toda.

Foi um mero acaso encontrar este pequeno grande livro, nas minhas buscas para deliciar e inspirar os meus filhos e acabei por comprar uns quantos e oferecer a quem muito quero. Uma lição de vida, de humildade, de perseverança, transmitido com mestria e a sensibilidade necessária para imprimir na nossa alma o poder do amor, do respeito pela natureza e pelos outros. O homem tem a capacidade de mudar o mundo, está em cada um de nós, só é preciso querer, querer verdadeiramente. Muito mais poderia dissertar, mas o melhor mesmo é lerem e o guardarem no coração.

Recomendo vivamente.
Profile Image for Ana | The Phoenix Flight.
236 reviews159 followers
February 8, 2019
As coisas boas nascem dos mais puros corações e da paciência.

Num mundo que se rege pelo imediato, em que se querem as coisas para ontem, Jean Giono lembra-nos que o tempo vem e vai, as coisas más (como duas guerras) vêm e vão e o que fica são as coisas a que se dedicou tempo, paciência, onde se pôs o coração e que isso dá frutos surpreendentes.

A história em si não é verídica, por muito que gostemos de acreditar que sim, mas acabou por servir de inspiração a algumas pessoas e movimentos que fizeram com que uma parábola passasse a realidade.

A prova em como quando damos de nós, sem esperar algo em troca, coisas fantásticas acontecem!
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,543 reviews12.9k followers
September 15, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Lynne King.
494 reviews676 followers
July 25, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Ana Cristina Lee.
662 reviews272 followers
January 9, 2023
En sólo 62 páginas Jean Giono contruye una fábula que nos habla de lo mejor que tiene el ser humano: la bondad, el bien, la belleza... Simplemente, un hombre que dedica su vida a plantar árboles.

Al recordar que todo había brotado de las manos y del alma de ese hombre - sin medios técnicos - se comprende que las personas podrían ser tan eficaces como Dios en dominios diferentes a la destrucción.

Profile Image for Irmak.
400 reviews848 followers
December 23, 2017
‘İnsan bütün bunların tek bir adamın elinden ve ruhundan çıktığını düşününce, insanoğlunun yok etmenin dışındaki işlerde de Tanrı kadar yetenekli olabileceğini kavrıyordu.’

Şöyle ufak bir alıntı bırakıp sizi Elzeard Bouffier’in hikayesini okumaya davet ediyorum. Çünkü kendisi hiçbir karşılık beklemeden, çorak bir araziyi azmi ile tek başına ağaçlandırıyor. Ve üç kişinin yaşadığı bir kasaba onun sayesinde yıllar sonra onbinlerin yaşadığı bir yer halini alıyor.

Kitap ağaç sevgisini aşılamanın da ötesinde bir insanın yaptığı bir eylemin nelere sebep olabileceğini o kadar güzel anlatıyor ki. Doğanın dengesi yeniden kurulurken siz mest oluyorsunuz, kalbiniz sıcak bir his ile sarmalanıyor.

Elzeard Bouffier’in gerçek olmasını o kadar çok istedim ki. Yine de böyle güzel bir mesaj bize bu kitap sayesinde aktarıldıktan sonra kitabın arkasında da dediği gibi;
‘Fark eder mi ?’
Profile Image for Deniz Balcı.
Author 2 books600 followers
August 6, 2021
Çok zamansız ya da çok zamanlı bir okuma oldu, bilemiyorum. Her yer yanarken, okunmayı bekleyen yığılı kitaplarımın arasında gözüme çarptı. Gözlerim doldu okurken. Ağaçtan önce umut dikmek lazım galiba, kitap da onu bana verdi.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,018 reviews1,183 followers
June 1, 2016
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.
Profile Image for João Carlos.
646 reviews277 followers
April 9, 2018

Área Florestal Ardida - Outubro 2017 - Portugal

Portugal's biggest wildfire: 'We all thought we were going to die' – video

Se querem ser mais felizes plantem árvores…

Esta edição da Cultura Editora tem magníficas ilustrações – a preto e branco - da We Blog You.

Incêndio em Vieira de Leiria, às 17:00 de 15 de outubro. Fotografia de Hélio Madeira, bombeiro da unidade especial dos Canarinhos, em Vieira de Leiria
Profile Image for Irene Thalassinou.
121 reviews13 followers
December 24, 2019
Πόσο πολύ θα ήθελα αυτή η ιστορία να είναι πραγματική και να υπάρχει ένας άνθρωπος που να φυτεύει δέντρα σε ένα βουνό και να δίνει ζωή σε ένα έρημο μέρος;
Ίσως αυτό ήθελε να πιστέψει και ένας γερμανικός εκδότης της εποχής που γράφτηκε η ιστορία και ζήτησε πραγματική φωτογραφία αυτού του ανθρώπου.
Η τελευταία παράγραφος με εκφράζει απόλυτα:
"Όταν σκέφτομαι ότι ένας άνθρωπος μόνος του, με τις δικές του μόνο φυσικές και ηθικές δυνάμεις, κατάφερε ν'αποσπάσει από αυτή την έρημη γη ετούτη τη χώρα της Χαναάν, δεν μπορώ να μη δεχτώ ότι τελικά - και κόντρα σε όλα - η "ανθρώπινη κατάσταση" είναι αξιοθαύμαστη."
Profile Image for Ana.
230 reviews84 followers
March 29, 2019
O Homem que Plantava Árvores chamava-se Elzéard Bouffier e este livro, um conto pequenino e singelo, conta a sua história: a história "sobre o poder que o ser humano tem de influenciar o mundo à sua volta"
Elzéard Bouffier sozinho, paciente e abnegadamente transformou terras inóspitas e desertas dos Alpes franceses numa região florestada à qual a vida e a população regressaram. A sua obra passou incólume pelas duas grandes guerras do século XX.
Elzéard Bouffier mostrou que "os humanos podem ser tão eficazes como Deus em outras áreas que não a destruição.”
O livro é recomendado pelo Plano Nacional de Leitura mas não entendo porquê para o 3º ciclo. Devia ser dado a ler a qualquer criança do ciclo preparatório.

Update 29/03/2019

Encontrei no youtube a animação baseada no livro, que ganhou um Oscar em 1988, esteve nomeada para a palma de ouro em Cannes 1987, entre vários outros prémios e nomeações. É só meia hora para quem ainda não conheça e queira ver:

Profile Image for Shankar.
167 reviews4 followers
October 22, 2021
Yes this book can be finished in less than an hour. Quite in contrast to the amount of time an acorn takes to become a self respecting tree…

This book is a gem. Beyond its brevity it’s soul is the story - whether this is true ( or not ) does not matter.

After reading this you will want to believe such a person as Elzeard Bouffier actually lived and did what he did.

Cannot recommend it more for its pure simplicity of theme and its profoundly spiritual moral - ‘just do it ‘.
Profile Image for Alma.
657 reviews
November 23, 2020
“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.”
Profile Image for Bob Brinkmeyer.
Author 8 books55 followers
September 22, 2021
This is a beautiful story of an unassuming man who, over decades, slowly, quietly, and diligently transforms a wasteland into a thriving forest and ecosystem. After losing his wife and son, Elzéard Bouffier moves to a desolate area of Provence to tend sheep and begin his lifelong project of planting trees—acorns, actually, 100 per day. Elzéard’s life is simple and restrained, guided only by his labor.

The story is told by a visitor to the region who befriends Elzéard and then over several decades swings back to visit him, commenting not only on the progress of Elzéard’s life but also of the now-forested landscape which has wondrously emerged from his plantings. The narrator’s admiration for Elzéard and his labor shapes the story. Here’s the captivating opening paragraph: “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 is no mistake.”

“The Man Who Planted Trees” reads both as a fable and as a realistic exposition (I, like many other readers, looked up Elzéard’s name to see if he had really existed), a story whose power lies in the stark, often biblical, language that itself embodies Elzéard’s life and work. The narrator declares Elzéard one of “God’s athletes,” whose example leads the narrator to conclude “that men could be as effectual as God in realms other than that of destruction.” Or as he puts it a bit more fully: “When I reflect that one man, armed only 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.”

Read “The Man Who Planted Trees” for a respite, even if momentary, from these dark and forbidding days of climate catastrophe. And read it for inspiration to do what you can, even in small ways, to enrich the natural world in which you live.
Profile Image for Liliana Rio.
142 reviews
May 25, 2016
Que alma grandiosa, que generosidade apaixonante, Elzéard Bouffier será eternamente memorável!!
É uma obra pequeninha mas tão sábia, tão tocante que me encheu o espirito, encheu-me o coração de esperança que o ser humano seguisse semelhante sabedoria.
A natureza é também para mim um refúgio de felicidade e paz interior por isso não podia deixar de adorar :)
Profile Image for Teresa.
1,492 reviews
August 16, 2017
E agora?
Depois de conhecer Elzéard Bouffier como posso eu continuar a ter a ilusão de que sou determinada, persistente e generosa?
Vou ter de o esquecer...
Profile Image for booklady.
2,325 reviews65 followers
July 25, 2019
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!
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