11 December 2017

Yvan Audouard: Lettres de mon pigeonnier (1991)

The parents of Yvan Audouard (1914–2004) were born in Provence, although he was born in Saigon (his father being a lieutenant) but spent much of his childhood in Arles and Nîmes. After World War II Yvan worked in Paris for Le Canard enchaîné for about thirty years. He wrote over eighty books, dating from 1946 to 2007, many of which were simply for amusement. Provence was always in his heart, particularly in Alphonse Daudet's Fontvieille, and of course the title (lit. 'Letters from My Dovecote') is a play on Daudet's very well-known Lettres de mon moulin (1869) (Letters from My Windmill), which even receives a mention in D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers.

The writer narrator spends half of each year In Fontvieille, and this is a celebration of Provence and its secrets. It's also a celebration of mystery, of the supernatural, and here he lives with his family, including his female cat Madelon and his pet magpire Gina.

Very strange things happen here, such as the steeple cock on the dovecote speaking and  moving to greet other steeple cocks. Then there are the santons of Grambois (north of Pertuis), the statues speaking, the dove Magali turning into stone, and the narrator's cat Madelon and pet magpie Gina (very troublesome creatures) helping and talking to the narrator so much, as if they were human. 

Even stones speak in this book, although meals never seem to be vegetarian: surely something wrong with the logic here?

Ivan Audouard lies in Fontvieille cemetery:

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