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The Life of a Simple Man
Emile Guillaumin

1982 • 231 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
British & European History / Fiction & Literature / Literary Criticism - French

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-87451-246-5
$9.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-226-7

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Trans. from the French

“A moving and informative fictional autobiography [on 19th-century French peasant life]”—New York Times Book Review

A classic in France, this moving first-person story can be read as a fictional account, as well as the best kind of material for historians of 19th-century French peasant life.

In order to “show the gents of Moulins, of Paris and elsewhere, just what a sharecropper’s life is like,” Emile Guillaumin, under the guise of fiction, wrote this story of “Tiennon,” a French peasant born fifty years before him in 1823. A peasant himself, Guillaumin was unique in that, after a few years of schooling, he continued to work his small farm in central France to the end of his life, reserving nights for study and writing. Guillaumin felt that the French peasant had been misrepresented in contemporary literature--either romanticized as in George Sand or depicted as a dumb victim of the forces of nature as in Zola--and wanted to correct the picture. The result is a moving first-person story that can be read as a fictional account, as well as the best kind of material for historians seeking to understand how nineteenth-century French peasants really lived.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Rich and rewarding as a work of fiction, but equally so as a work of history”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

EUGEN WEBER is Professor of History and Dean of the College of Letters and Science at UCLA. He has written many books on France, including Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:07:46 -0500