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Cover for Running in Place

Running in Place

Scenes from the South of France

Nicholas Delbanco


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Provence: Its magnificent landscape has inspired artists and writers for centuries. In this stunning evocation of Provencal culture and history, the critically lauded novelist and essayist Nicholas Delbanco captures both the immediacy of this changing region and the time-honored traditions of its past.

Born in England during the Second World War, raised in America, Delbanco spent many of the most important periods of his life in Provence. Ensconced in a farmhouse deep in the Alpes-Maritimes, writing books, he developed lasting friendships with his neighbors, including expatriate novelist James Baldwin. His narrative deals with the stages of age--from his first, carefree visits and an early love affair to his transformation into the "solid citizen" who imitates his parents while guiding his children through the streets.

In 1987 Delbanco returned to Provence with his family, planning "a sentimental journey to our early haunts. It is to be, I tell myself, a chance to travel with our daughters before we drift apart, a chance to share our past with them before it proves irrecoverable." With the mind of a historian and the eye of an artist, Delbanco gracefully weaves strands of Provencal life into scenes from his own past and present.

In the precise, mellifluous language that prompted the Chicago Tribune Book World to call him "as fine a pure prose stylist as any writer living," Delbanco provides a personal record of one of the world's most fertile regions. He writes of the landscape of Petrarch and Laura, Cezanne and van Gogh, the Marquis de Sade and Albert Camus ("who made his home in Lourmarin because of the size of the sky"); of Provence's thirty-two winds; and of aristocrat and peasant, cave and vineyard, restaurant and gallery, coal stoves and mimosa, cars and climbing roses, stone walls and bittersweet--describing a paradise still pure, but not immune to progress. This book will bear comparison to Hemingway's account of France; it, too, is a moveable feast.

Grove Press, 9780802138095, 256pp.

Publication Date: June 6, 2001