Archives du mot-clé Pagnol

About « Le château de ma mère » from Marcel Pagnol


As part of the Cercle des Chamaileurs, one of us chose to talk about Le Château de ma mère. I would have preferred a play, it would have allowed us to see how Marcel Pagnol himself staged the text he had written.

This choice of Le Château de ma mère made me read 3 books of Pagnol (Le Château de ma mère, La Gloire de mon père, Le Temps des secrets), to loak at 2 films of Yves Robert (Le Château de ma mère, La Gloire de mon père) and read 2 books by Jean Giono (Regain, Le Chant du monde).


Conclusion: I am lost. I mix a little everything. Partly because of Yves Robert who staged some anecdotes under titles that are not accurate (the meeting of Marcel and Isabelle in Le Château de ma mère)

What does it come out of? That I am not able to do a structured article like I did on the other books discussed previously. But simply to give sometimes contradictory impressions.

First, a certain lightness of Pagnol’s books. Lightness, in the good sense of the word, that is to say pleasant to read but also lightness compared to Giono. Le Château de ma mère is a fake children’s book with short chapters (6 pages on average) that turn a bit at Le Petit Nicolas or La Guerre des boutons sometimes to Don Camillo and Peppone.
Still highlighted in Yves Robert’s film.
The first hundred pages of Le Château are the enchanted discovery by the young Marcel of the hills, at the beginning with the hunters of which he is the dog beater, before making the faithful dog of Isabelle, to face the big black dog, attached but terrible, to become captain of the beautiful Isabelle  and finally, with all the family, impressed by the old Mastoc, the old dog of the narrow guard.
But the true discovery is the encounter, accomplice, Lili de Bellons, younger than him in the book but larger in the film, which makes him discover, really opens the beauty of nature, wildlife, flora of the hills. With perhaps too much display by Marcel Pagnol of his knowledge of the birds. Marcel tries to give in exchange the story of the city, the multiplication table or the vocabulary of the school. But what Lili prefers is the anecdote of the bartavelles.

Yves Robert is only marginally interested in this meeting-discovery of nature: the first three minutes, including generic, are a circular view around a hill of white rocks, in the mist, under a gray sky, which leads to grosibou (gros hibou, big owl) in his cache, seen from behind, in backlight, disturbing, watching over new hills that we discover, with songs of birds, finally becoming green in a blue sky while the voice of the narrator speaks of these hills, the love of his life, and the holidays over: a car moves away from the country house, a young deboule, in sailor suit, shakes hands …

The second part of the book is made of the adventures of the little Marcel, convict scholarship, equipped to go to the bastide, genius of the plot of the mother and happy meetings of Bouzigue who has a good job thanks to Mr. Joseph, his former teacher, Marcel’s father, and his sister (sic), little virtue! Happy meeting of the scarred count, of the gardener, son of the people. Such is the people; his faults come only from his ignorance. But his heart is good as good bread and he has the generosity of children and especially the bad meeting … the guard accompanied by Mastoc.



For Yves Robert, it’s essential but it was not enough, he adds the meeting with Isabelle who is in Le temps des secrets.

The success of the book and of the film is probably due to the description of the friendly and family sentimental relations, and to a certain number of happy, picturesque formulas or words of child sometimes of an innocent cruelty. But also to situations that are affectionately ridiculed: the discreet disrespect for his father’s attachment to the Republic, to the instruction beyond his professional life, his scruples, his agnosticism… the religiosity of  Uncle Jules is never questioned.

Beyond the good words of children: il faut le démourir, (it must be indied) … On ne tremble pas pour des chasseurs à moustaches… J’avais décidé de n’aspirer à ces hautes fonctions qu’après mon service militaire. (We do not tremble for hunters mustaches … I decided to aspire to these high positions after my military service). One can be sensitive to a certain lyricism of Pagnol:  L’oreille collée à la roche polie, nous écoutions, les yeux fermés. Elle chantait selon les vents, le mistral la faisait rire…, Les parfums étaient devenus des odeurs et montaient du sol presque visibles, les pins immobiles se mirent à chanter… Leurs costumes de chasse sur les épaules de plusieurs chaises… Son visage énorme était orné de deux paires de moustaches rousses : l’une sous le nez, l’autre au dessus des yeux qui étaient bleus et bordés de cils rouges… Les gouttes de pluie coulaient lentement sur la vitre ; sur ma figure, lentement coulaient mes larmes, an image that he seems to like because he takes it again: De douces gouttes de pluie pleuraient pour moi sur mon visage (Il pleure dans mon cœur comme il pleut sur la ville ? Paul Verlaine)… La pluie tombait en gouttes de silence...

Some of these images flourish pantheism:  La vieille odeur de la bergerie… nous fit savoir… La pluie le comprit, elle s’arrêta… Les trente cinq jours… mais la patience de la pendule en vint à bout. (The old smell of the sheepfold … let us know … The rain understood, it stopped … The thirty five days … but the patience of the clock came at the end).

However, we are very far from the powerful pantheistic lyricism of Jean Giono.