Education Européenne

Confined in the Drôme des Collines, the Vercors – more than ten kilometers from the house – is not allowed to us without a certificate …

But literature allows miracles: I spent my evening yesterday in the bush with Romain Gary …

“Freedom is the daughter of the forests. It is there that it was born, it is there that it comes back to hide, when things go wrong”, a definitive sentence that Gary attributes in Education Européenne to the eldest Zborowski …

On the back cover of the Folio edition, a concise biography, which says a lot about this amazing man: “Romain Gary, born in 1914 in Russia, writer, aviator, diplomat, Companion of the Liberation, obtained the Goncourt Prize for Les Roots of Heaven … “

By immersing yourself in the book, you are struck by the atmosphere of the Polish forest, plunged into this “bad September dawn, wet with rain”.

But what a taste of freedom! So far from the suffocating atmosphere of our time and its obsessions, between fear of dying and the right to die …

The book was written in the urgency of a possible death between 1941 and 1943, Education Européenne was first published under the title Forest of Anger by Cresset Press in 1944 in England. Published in France in 1945 under its current title by Calmann-Levy, receiving the Prix des Critiques Prize that year.

Contrary to the good reception of the press, Jean-Paul Sartre had written in the number of Modern Times dated November 1, 1945 that he “did not find it good” … (as we are in intimacy: a book that Sartre does find “not good” cannot be really bad!)

In fact, the work was profoundly reworked afterwards, before being re-published in 1956 in the prestigious Collection Blanche of Gallimard. Among the most important changes, a new protagonist is introduced in the person of the partisan Nadejda, an imaginary fictitious figure who has become mythical within the Polish resistance, completely changing the direction of his action.

Well, I only had the Folio edition of the 1956 text, but what a pleasure, these two hours with my dear Romain Gary!

Come on! Just for the pleasure: “It often happened to him to press his hand against the hard and reassuring bark of a tree and to look up at him in gratitude, and he had even befriended a very old oak, certainly the most beautiful, the most powerful in the forest, whose branches opened above Janek like protective wings … “

Happy reading!


Iconography: Tatry National Park, Zakopanein, Poland © Marek Steins


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