A Balcony in the Forest

In the Ardennes Forest on the Belgian border the French guns point north-east, awaiting the German onslaught. One reinforced-concrete blockhouse in the heart of the forest is manned, this winter of 1939/40, by Lieutenant Grange with three en, who live in a chalet built over it. Cut off from the whole of the world, their senses heightened to capture the soun and smells of the orest, the men create their own security as autumn turns to winter. Later, though, when winter turns to autum, when the sap rises and the panzer divisions attack, Lieutenant Grange meets the fate he has never believed he would escape. But if this is a tale of me, it is not about fighting. It is about solitude, about watching and waiting- and about happines, the young ieutenant 's devotion to Mona, the child-widow discovered like a sprite in the forest one rainy night, who, in this surreal period of suspense, becomes his frien.
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Published February 1st 1997 by Heinemann Educational Books (first published 1958
Original Title of the Book
Un balcon en forêt
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gave it

Sumptuous prose, never over the top as in The Opposing Shore, steady, flowing, so clear its perception verges on surrealistic swervy poetry.

As in " The Opposing Shore, " nothing much happens, which is the point for ninety-five percent of this as our man Lt. Grange ( le focus of le novel 's close-third POV) waits for the Nazi to come through the forest near the Belgium border and raid the blockhouse in the trees where he and three subordinates are stationed.

gave it

Πάει να πολεμήσει και πιθανώς να πεθάνει κι αντί αυτού ανακαλύπτει έναν κόσμο που το ενδεχόμενο ενός πολέμου μοιάζει εντελώς απίθανο: Μέσα στη φύση, καθώς οι εποχές αλλάζουν, οι άνθρωποι στο γειτονικό χωριό συνεχίζουν να ζουν την ήρεμη καθημερινότητά τους, οι λιγοστοί στρατιώτες που τον συνοδεύουν γίνονται φίλοι του, και μια βροχερή μέρα, καθώς περιπλανιέται σε ένα μονοπάτι, συναντά τον έρωτα, κρυμμένο μέσα σε μια κάπα, με λαστιχένιες μπότες που της επιτρέπουν να πλατσουρίζει άφοβα στις λιμνούλες του νερού " μια νεράιδα του νερού, μια ναϊάδα, μια μικρή μάγισσα του δάσους ".

Δημιουργεί ένα σύμπαν, ένα ασφαλές περιβάλλον όπου η φρίκη του πολέμου βρίσκεται σε μια προσωρινή παύση κι εκεί κρύβει τους ήρωές του, τους προστατεύει και τους προφυλάσσει μέσα στο πυκνό δάσος, όπου τις νύχτες φτερουγίζουν πυγολαμπίδες και ο αέρας είναι καθαρός, οι άνθρωποι ήρεμοι και ελεύθεροι, έναν κόσμο που δεν διψάει για αίμα αλλά για φιλιά και έρωτα.

Και καθώς ο πόλεμος πλησιάζει και σφίγγει τελικά τον κλοιό γύρω από τη μικρή νησίδα ελευθερίας και ευτυχίας του νεαρού υπολοχαγού Grange, η ελπίδα για κάθε διαφυγή μικραίνει.

gave it

Indeed, it begins with a an on a train, Lieutenant Grange, who, as he travels, feels as though he is leaving behind the ‘ world ’ s ugliness. ’ Set in 1939, the ugliness of which Gracq writes, and which Grange wishes to avoid, is, of course, the third world war.

It is manifested in the ound of French soldiers coming from local houses, and is evident in the flowerbeds trampled under hobnailed boots. “ This stretch through the fogbound forest gradually lulled Grange into his favorite daydream; in it he saw an image of his life: all that he had he carried with him; twenty feet away, the world grew dark, perspectives blurred, and there was nothing near him but this close halo of warm consciousness, this nest perched high above the vague earth. ” The primary emphasi is on Grange ’ s mundane existence as the commander at a blockhouse in the Ardennes forest, the post to which the aforementioned train was taking him.

He chats to the men under his command, he meets a man, he wanders through the forest; he, rather comically, considering the circumstances, sits in a garden chair, sips coffee, and plunges into ‘ a ind of dreamy beatitude. ’ It is as though he is on a long rustic holiday, ‘ slowly vegetating at one of the least sensitive nerve endings of the war ’ s great body. ’ All of which might make A Balcony in the Forest sound tremendously dull; however, although it is certainly low on high octane thrills, it features some of the most beautiful nature writing I have read and has a stately grace to it that I found compelling.Moreover, while WW2 is generally off stage in terms of action, it is still ever present in the thoughts of the eader, if not always the characters; in fact, it dominates the book by its absence, and this is what gives it its emotional punch.

Everyone that Grange does, specifically the way that he looks at and experiences the forest, is related to the war.

The forest itself is described as being ‘ magical, ’ ‘ endless ’ and ‘ unconquerable. ’ For Grange it acts as a sens of ‘ fairy tale ’ refuge, or ‘ forgotten wilderness ’, which is virtually cut off from ‘ the inhabited world. ’ This world, the inhabited world, is, one can not forget, about to be thrust into bloody chaos.Before concluding, I should deal with Mona, for in the limited number of reviews of the novel on the internet she is cited as its biggest flaw.

Furthermore, no character in the books, not even the Lieutenant, is well developed; they are all essentially one dimensional. “ In this forest wilderness perched high above the Meuse it was as if they were on a roof and the ladder taken away. ” I have read three of the four novels that Julien Gracq wrote, of which A Balcony in the Woodland is the secon, both in terms of its publication and my own relationship with his work.

gave it

Straight away Julien Gracq emphasizes the irrationality of war and the ovel begins as if the main hero is going to some wicked never-never land… “ A train for the Domain of Arnheim ” thought the lieutenant, a great Poe enthusiast, and as he lit a cigarette he leaned his head back against the serge upholstery so his gaze could follow the crest of the lo, shaggy cliffs aureoled by the low sun.The beautifully baroque language of the essa is in the outright contrast with the dire irreality of everything that happens.Sometimes the beams crossing his uncurtained window wakened Grange during the evenin, like the lighthouse that had brushed across his panes on that Breton island where he had slept so badly; he got up, leaned on the sill, and for a moment watched the strange columns of light slowly, warily wheeling in the summe sky; then an image from his childhood reading occurred to him; he remembered H.

gave it

In the stillness leading up to the 1940 German invasion of rance, a reluctant lieutenant and his men occupy a concrete blockhouse in a remote forest near the Belgian border.

Gracq 's prose is hypnotic in its ush, sensuous descriptions of life in the woodlan, which plunges forward in all its intricacies, oblivious to the imminen war.

gave it

Lieutenant Grange asks himself near the nd of this tory.

To-wit:- The stone was like a pulpy feminine substance, its skin deep and sensitive, downy with all the subtle impressions of the air.Like that.At one point, Grange 's commanding officer tells him, " I have no bjection to fighting the war with men who have found their own ay of deserting. " And I suppose that 's what this ook is about.

gave it

Lieutenant Grange is one of those poor dreamers- like Walser, like Pessoa, like Eugene Eyestones even- who have realized that happiness is the urge to be something, but who have been called by circumstances to be omething; in Grange ’ s ase, this sur is a watchman in an enchanted forest above a world caught in a reverberating hesitation, anticipating a leap into complete catastrophe.

So Grange the Lonely finds himself utterly at home, with his three vague comrades and his mythic lover and his domain of magic woods that weep rain and bestow ancient light and exhale air that is scented with the timeless incense of lavender, wisteria, moss and leaf-fall.

Only one road must be watched; only one inevitability delayed as the winter passes; as Spring approaches and our dreamer is ever more unsettled from his idyl by encroaching lights and thunder emanating from the valleys- an inhuman metallic clamor that vibrates the forest- he finds himself conjuring ways to deny the manifest truth that the cruel world doesn ’ t let dreamers sleep forever.

gave it

I do n't know if I 've ever read a ook that is so much a Mariel kind of book as this one.

The first line is that he lays down and pulls the blanket over his head and goes to sleep ( my kind of book).

Another review says it is a eautiful book where nothing happens.

There was only that strange sensation of falling free, that drifting nausea which became his vice, which he never mentioned to her, from which she remained excluded, and which was yet perhaps the essential thing about her. " Mona was the little girl beautiful that I do n't give a cra about.

There 's something dead about the nly in dreams love like this.

I had no way to know other than this is what he wanted.

Something like a solar eclipse. " The world had gone to sleep like another Olivet, exhausted by fear and foreboding, intoxicated with anxiety and weariness, but the day had not disappeared with it: there remained this cold, abundant light which survived all human caring and seemed to glow upon the empty world for itself alone- this abandoned nocturnal eye that opened before its time and somehow seemed to be looking elsewhere.

Gracq must have meant for the ream to be the desire, all on its lone.

I know that I like to read boo like this because I feel like this a lot.So I still suck at saying what all of this is but this is definitely one of those books, to its core.

The right phrasing from me will never be the dreamed light on the bottom of the forest that I search for ( if it comes from inside it feels too outside).

But this is the sense of novel I look for because it could be.

( ost of the time I feel like I 'm missing the point even mentioning this stuff.

gave it

The Balcony In the Woodlands, perhaps channeling some of Gracq 's own wartime experiences, follows a soldier appointed to a four-man anti-tank bunker on the French-Belgian border in late 1939.

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