Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
by Henri Bosco, translated from the French by Joyce Zonana
An NYRB Classics Original
Although relatively unknown today by readers of English, Henri Bosco was a prolific, well-respected, and popular mid-twentieth-century French writer. The author of more than thirty volumes of fiction and poetry, he received the Grand Prix national des Lettres, the Grand Prix de l’Académie française, and the Prix des Ambassadeurs. Malicroix, hailed as Bosco’s “finest achievement” and praised for its “intimate blending of the real world and the world of myth” (F.W. Saunders), is extensively cited by Gaston Bachelard in his influential The Poetics of Space and The Poetics of Reverie. Bachelard calls Malicroix a “vast prose poem” and writes of returning again and again to this distinctive, haunting novel.
Set in the early nineteenth century, Malicroix is the first-person narrative of a diffident, provincial young man who inherits from a great-uncle a house on an island in the Rhone, in the desolate and wild Camargue region. In order to actually acquire the house, the young man must live alone in it for three months, coming to terms with the huge and turbulent river (always threatening to flood the island and the countryside), the wild wind (blowing fiercely around his tiny shelter), and his own unaccustomed solitude. He must also complete a challenging task set by his great-uncle and resist the efforts of others who are bent on acquiring the house and the land for themselves. The novel traces the narrator’s experiences as he comes into full possession not only of his inheritance but, more important, of himself.