Monday, August 15, 2011

The Man Who Planted Trees

This is the story of The Man who Planted Trees. 

L'Homme qui Plantait des Arbres

If you haven't read this book, you have missed a beautiful tale of one man's journey across a lost land, transforming the ground from a desolate wasteland to a lush, verdant expanse of green.

Published in 1953, The Man who Planted Trees was a work of fiction with a message that struck a chord well before it's time. This is an ecological fable that is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.

When the Reader's Digest commissioned author Jean Giono to write a few pages for a feature article called "The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met", he created an allegorical tale that the magazine lapped up......

...until, an investigation by Reader's Digest found the author had misled the public by creating a work of fiction rather than a biography. "The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met" was to have been based on a real person, not some crazy, life-giving peasant who journeys alone, carrying out the work of God.

As the magazine's investigative team soon realised, tracking down the central character (a roaming shepherd who had never been schooled) was a thankless task. 

Indeed, finding the vast forests, planted so lovingly by the man or locating his tiny village, whose people had rediscovered the joy of trees, shade and fruit in abundance, was impossible. 

The Man who Planted Trees was not published by Reader's Digest after all, but in 1968, a German Publishing house, having "verifed" the existence of the shepherd from photographs, ran the story in an anthology of biographies. 

Giono had sent them a photo of "a typical handsome old man, clear eyed and with a calm expression,his bearing both proud and awkward, wearing what is clearly his Sunday best in honour of the occasion."

The anthology was a huge success and The Man who Planted Trees became a legend. 

The publishing house even went so far as requesting the name of the nearest railway station to the fictional village, so that fans of this lovely tale could visit the place where the man had lived and planted his enchanted forest.  

The author never revealed the location of that village. 

The Man who Planted Trees is a tale that belongs on every bookshelf. 

To have trees planted in your garden
contact The Butchart Gardens
Call or email James Butchart 

Phone: 0408 264 964 

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