Pierre Jourde's “Pays perdu”: Elegy or Betrayal?

Room H
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
15.00 – 16.45
cultural environment, landscapes, territorial consciousness

In 2005, French contemporary critic Pierre Jourde published Pays Perdu dedicated to his isolated native village of Lussaud in Cantal, a rural farming area of Auvergne, France. Intended as a declaration of love for his native home and a pastoral elegy to the farmers, the book depicts the hardship and crude lifestyle in a village haunted by adulterous family secrets. Two years after the publication, the author and his family are insulted and violently assaulted by the book's characters. Ten years after the publication of Pays perdu that severed the author's relationships with his former neighbors, Pierre Jourde publishes a novel with a biblical title, La première pierre awarded the Jean Giono literay prize. In the essay, the Parisian iconoclastic critic expresses his self-criticism partly questioning his writing, partly convincing his reader of the legitimacy of his pictorial ode to the “lost country”. The presentation proposes to investigate the social, ethical and literary implications of Jourde's rural writing navigating between fiction, poetry and reality. In Pays perdu, the author betrayed rural community secrets meant to remain unuttered. The analysis investigates the literary depiction of the village and the power dynamics at play in the autobiographical work positioning the author as authority figure over the farmers who inspired his characters. It will also explore and address the limits of creative freedom when readers' expectations are not fulfilled and the writer is considered a traitor.

Annie Jouan-Westlund
Cleveland State University
United States
a.jouanwestlund [at]

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