A King Alone

Author(s): Jean Giono; Alyson Waters (Translator); Susan Stewart (Introduction by)

Crime Thriller Mystery

An existential detective story by one of France's most popular modern writers, set in a mid-nineteenth century mountain village, available in English for the first time

"The book started off entirely by chance, without even a character. The character was the Tree, the Beech, and the starting point--that was the discovery of a crime: a dead body turns up in the branches of this tree. There was the Tree; there was the victim; an inanimate thing, a corpse. Well, the corpse requires a murderer, that's clear, and the murder requires investigation. What I wrote was a novel about the investigator. That's what I wanted to write, but it had to start with a tree that had nothing to do with the story at all."

Such was Jean Giono's account of how A King Alone came to be. The title alludes to Pascal's saying "A king without distraction is a man full of wretchedness," and the book is set in a remote Alpine village in the mid-nineteenth century. At its center is the enigmatic officer Langlois. In deepest winter, the inhabitants of a remote Alpine village mysteriously begin to disappear. Langlois comes from afar to protect the village and investigate the crime. Giono's novel about a tiny community at the dangerous edge of things and a man of law who is ever more a man alone could be described as a metaphysical Western. It unfolds with the uncanny inevitability and disturbing intensity of a dream.


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9781681373096
  • : New York Review of Books, Incorporated, The
  • : New York Review of Books, Incorporated, The
  • : April 2019
  • : --- length: - '8' width: - '5' units: - Inches
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 182
  • : Paperback
  • : Jean Giono; Alyson Waters (Translator); Susan Stewart (Introduction by)