fore round as well: plowing leads tornplanting, which in turn leads eventuallyrnto harvesting, until the cycle is completedrnand plowing begins again. LawrencernDurrell, steeped in the Greek and Romanrnpast of the region, noted the “momentousrnsimultaneousness” of historyrnendlessly repeating itself and recycledrnGiono’s geometrical metaphor in the titlernof the last chapter of his book Caesar’srnVast Ghost: Aspects of Provence—rn”Le Cercle Referme” (“The CirclernClosed Again”).rnHistory also suffuses the poetry ofrnEzra Pound and Frederic Mistral. Poundrntook a “voyage through time and space”rnfor the notes that became A WalkingrnTour in Southern France (edited byrnRichard Sieburth). For him, the land ofrnthe Troubadours is a land “thick withrnghosts,” and his journey takes him backrnto his poetic origins: ” [I] f we are to understandrnthat part of our civilizationrnwhich is the art of verse,” he wrote, “wernmust begin at the root, and that root isrnmedieval. The poetic art of Provencernpaved the way for the poetic art of Tuscany;rnand to this Dante bears sufficientrnwitness in the De Vulgari Eloquio.” Mistralrnlikewise seeks his roots in Provence,rnalthough (in contrast to the expatriaternPound’s) his connections to the regionrnare not only poetic, but physical, linguistic,rnand social as well. In his memoirs,rnMistral recounts how at the age ofrn21 he returned from Aix-en-Provence,rnwhere he had attended law school, tornhis father’s farm to rediscover these rootsrnfor himself and others:rnThen and there . . . with my footrnon the threshold of my father’srnhouse and my eyes turned towardrnthe Alpilles, I made a silent vow tornmyself: first, to raise and revive inrnProvence the traditional spirit thatrnwas being destroyed by all thernschools and their false and unnaturalrneducation; second, to promoternthat revival by restoring thernnatural and historical language ofrnthe country, against which all thernschools were waging a war to therndeath; third, to bring Provengalrnback into fashion through the benignrninfluence and divine fire ofrnpoetry.rnIt is Mistral’s familiarity with the historyrnof his family (an old line for which therngreat wind is named) and his region thatrninspires his writing.rnPoetry and farming are both sacredrnarts to Mistral; he is a troubadour in therntruest sense of the word, “one who seeksrnto find” the spirit of a place—or ofrnmankind. It is this sense of place and selfrnthat writers like Mistral, Durrell, Giono,rnPagnol, Pound, and M.F.K. Fisher expressrnso eloquently—and that Mayle unfortunatelyrnseems to lack. Unlike otherrnwriters who have made Provence evenrntemporarily their home, Mayle has madernno effort to cultivate either nature orrnhimself. Mayle does not see, as did Durrell,rnthat Provence is a “place of revelations”;rnhe does not experience, as didrnPound, any “epiphanies”; his memoriesrndo not, as did M.F.K. Fisher’s, becomernpart of his “spiritual marrow”; hisrnProvence is not, as was Giono’s, the settingrnfor a universal tragedy based on thern”terrible joy of existing.” In contrast tornanother Englishman now living inrnProvence, Julian More, Mayle does notrnhave “southern France in [his] blood.”rnMore’s pictorially and literarily gorgeousrnbook Views From a French Farmhousernconsequently reveals more of the region’srnessence in its reflections on four seasonsrnthere than any number of sequels to ArnYear in Provence ever will,rnThe reason for this is simple: Maylerndoes not comprehend that quality of lifernis based on more than physical comfort;rnhe fails to see that it also requires spiritualrnenlightenment. Mayle’s novel HotelrnPastis demonstrates his fondness for thernformer and his neglect of the latter.rnWhile Hotel Pastis is certainly an entertainingrnbook, it offers no enlightenmentrn(except maybe a hint to stay away fromrnhotels run by and for the rich and famous)rnbut onlv escape. Hotel Pastis isrnthe story of Simon Shaw, a British advertisingrnexecutive who, like Mayle himself,rnflees the harried and glamorous lifernhe has been leading in London to settlerninto a (at least initially) more tranquil existencernin Provence. While Simon supportsrnhimself by opening a hotel ratherrnthan by writing a travelogue, the parallelsrnbetween him and his creator are transparentrn—his financial worries are trivialrn(nonexistent), his female companion is arngourmet cook, his contact with localsrnconsists mainly of conversations with thernarchitects and workers he employs to fixrnup his property, etc. Although there isrnan adventure with some bank robbersrnthrown into the mixture this timernaround, Mayle essentially repeats thernanecdotes about life as a newcomer tornthe region that he relayed in A Year inrnProvence and Toujours Provence.rnHotel Pastis is not merely repetitive; itrnis blase, and Simon’s recurrent whiningrnabout the ennui he feels first as part ofrnLondon’s wealthy and beautiful set andrnthen as the owner of a hotel that attractsrnthis set is tiresome. In escapist mode,rnMayle identifies Provence with “no executiverncommittees” and “perfectlyrntanned cleavage.” While he aims tornshow the superiority of the business ofrnliving over the business of business, it isrnbusiness pure and simple that wins out inrnthe end—in both the novel (when Simonrnabandons his hotel to handle advertisingrnfor a Texas millionaire) and thernlife (the 50-something Mayle is reportedlyrna millionaire himself now). Maylerncannot break out of his role as a propagandistrnfor consumer society; ever thernadman, he approaches Provence as if itrnwere a product to be marketed, and hisrnbooks have all the slickness of a promotionalrnbrochure.rnMayle will never be more than a permanentrnvisitor to Provence, and his picturernof the region is that of a tourist.rnJacques Chabot, in his examination ofrnGiono’s Provence, warns against suchrnobliviousness to the mysterious, solitary,rnhaunting, and painful side of the place:rn”it is necessary—under risk of lettingrnoneself fall into the ideological flatnessrnof I don’t which Edenic-touristicrnProvence—to savor all the salt of thatrnimmediate and concrete existence whichrnwould change, in the absence of deathrn(the salt of life), into insipidity.” Mayle,rnwho never contemplates much of anythingrnbeyond his next meal, fails to findrnany salt in his paradise.rnBut, then again, his books do make forrna fun read, which is more than can bernsaid of most best-sellers these days. Andrnmaybe it is enough that he has renewedrninterest in a region that embodies sornmuch of the West’s poetry and history—rnand that has so much to teach us notrnonly about death, but about life: how tornwalk slowly, work hard, eat well, enjoyrnnature, and converse with our fellowrnmen. As Matthew Arnold wrote inrnEmpedocles on Etna:rnIs it so small a thingrnTo have enjoyed the sun.rnTo have lived light in the spring.rnTo have loved, to have thought, tornhave done . . .?rnChristine Haynes is the assistant editorrnof Chronicles.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn