Thursday, February 25, 2010


Perhaps it is inevitable with the promise of spring and its attendant creatures, but I have been reading a bit of Fabre again lately. That was why I was quite excited when I found the trailer below, for a documentary which was filmed at the naturalist's home, now a museum, in Sérignan.

Fabre was fairly advanced in years when he was finally able to purchase this site of his own "laboratory in the open fields." In one of the best passages of all his writing, he hints at the lifetime of hopes and hard work that brought him to Sérignan, but more than this, the sentences spell out a deep and contagious delight over the minute wonders of his new paradise. Every paragraph bursts with a thousand living, moving things below the sun--so much so that I suspect, all its other charms aside, the chapter might convince a reader that he was enjoying the same sun on the darkest day of winter.

Upon finding the video, I was so delighted to see the place, live, as it were (and to look at the creepy-crawlies), that I spent the first viewing savouring, more than I did paying proper attention . It was only after I thought about putting it up here on the blog that I realized, as far as narration goes, I could claim to understand maybe a dozen words in three-odd minutes--it's entirely in French and German. (On the upside, you can hear how "Fabre" is pronounced in French.)

But, a beetle is a beetle the world over, three scant minutes is scarcely too long to be taking in the sights of such a historical garden, and, speaking from experience, I can state that it definitely doesn't take bilingualism to appreciate the clip at 1:54 where the illustrator Christian Thanhäuser demonstrates his artistic skill in careful, exquisite ink.

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