”Letters from my mill” is a book of novel which appeared in 1869. Provence was the authors inspiration so the book was intended for the readers in Paris.
The novel about a proud old man who would rather be ruined than accept a new lifestyle is enriched by solidarity and compassion but on the other side it speaks about social motives such as the new technology era.
The plot is settled into a mill where the writer writes letters to Paris. The mill is in Provence and everything is set in the 19th century.
The novels are simple, easy to read and have similar compositions. Daudet managed to successfully combine real and surreal. The storytelling runs smooth with no unneeded explanations. The end of the story carries the moral and it is that everything in life must end one day.
During the many descriptive parts the reader can actually visualize the surroundings in which the author writes and therefore we can see the great love that the author had for Provence.
The Letters from my mill
The stories are linked with the same scenery and that is the old mill in Provence. The author uses that place to show the beauty of the place he came from and to describe a few events in the lifev of its inhabitants.
In “Taking possession” we have a description of the mill and the inhabitants such as owls and rabbits.
In the novel “Seguin’s goat” the author emphasizes the desire for freedom and its price.
In “The Beaucaire diligence” we’re introduced a humiliated yet patient man who many mock because of his unfaithful wife. It’s hard not to question yourself how much pain can a man take.
“The secret of Maitre Cornille” we see how important a man’s honor is.
“The stars” are a novel about a shepherd who is in love with his the daughter of his boss.
“The Arlesian girl” talks about an unhappy love between a girl that does not know what she wants and a faithful boy.
“The pope’s mule” talks about a mule that was abused and then waited for 7 years to get her revenge.
“Semillante” is a story about a shipwreck.
“Prose ballads” bring two stories: one is about the death of a prince Dauphin and the fact that everyone is equal on their death bed ; The other one is about a worker that forgets to do his job because the view around him is so beautiful.
“The cur of Cucugnan” is a funny story about a priest who came up with a plan to get people to come and confess.
The secrets of Corneille
The story begins as the rest of them with Daudet who wants to share a story with us. His source is Francet Mamai.
Once upon a time this whole place was full of Windmills and in many of them people lived. With the arrival of new technology the Windmills were torn down. There was only one mill left and it belonged to Cornille.
He was a 60 years old man who loved his job. He tried to stop the modernization of the mills but failed so he locked himself up in his mill and did not talk to anybody, not even his granddaughter. He even did not care how he looked anymrore.
There was one thing that bothered his neighbors and that was the fact that his mill was still working even though nobody has brought anything to it. Every time they would ask him why he worked so much he would just say it was for export.
Mamai fell in love with his granddaughter Vivett and she loved him back so he want to ask her grandpa for her hand in marriage. He told them to go away and the couple decided to wait for a better opportunity.
When they came to the mill again grandpa wasn’t there so they climbed through a window. They saw an abandoned space with a lot of dust and some bags filled with plaster. They finally found out what was grandpa bringing to the mill every night.
The secret was out and the villagers were moved by the grandpa’s pride so they gave him all of their wheat. Grandpa was thrilled and got to work as soon as he received the wheat.
From that day on everyone carried their wheat to Corneille and when he died nobody inherited the mill so that was the last one and he kept his pride until the day he died.
Characters: Cornille, Vivett
Cornille – the main character of the story and he is shown as a proud and honorable man dedicated to his work. When the competition arrived he did not back down and he fought for his job.
He was an older man who was not capable of adjusting to the new changes and he needed his mill to survive. He was aware that he was not strong enough to fight the changes so he took some drastic measurements and locked himself up in his mill. He stopped communicating with the rest of the world and drifted apart from his granddaughter.
The reader can judge on his own if the grandpa was selfish because he placed his honor before his granddaughter. No matter how hard it was the grandpa convinced everyone that his mill was still working. When he saw the wheat that the people brought he had his chance to dream again.
Vivett – a 15 years old girl that lost her parents and only had her grandpa.
The main character is mister Seguin who never had luck in his own job and his jobs were goats. They gave him headaches every day with their behavior. Every morning they would chew through the rope and went to the mountains. The problem was that in the mountains there was a wolf that ate them so Seguin lost all of his goats.
He did not know what to do anymore so he bought a young goat hoping that she will get used to his lifestyle. He was wrong.
He started telling the young goat a story about his other goat that was dangerous and strong. Despite that the goat ended up struggling with the wolf that finally ate her so she ended up as all of the other goats.
Place: mountain, Seguin’s meadow
Characters: Seguin and the goats
Alphonse Daudet Biography
Alphonse Daudet is a French writer who spent most of his life in Provence and he got his inspiration there. He is considered to be one of the most important writers in describing abandoned people living in the prayer.
He was born in 1840. His father manufactured silk and despite many problems he encountered in life he never gave up. During his school days he skipped class a lot and through his biography we can tell that he was depressed most of his childhood.
In 1865 he came to Lyon where he spent his school days. When he ended his studies he became a teacher and the job wasn’t easy for him. He even confessed to having nightmares in which he had to deal with his students.
In 1857 he left his job and joined his brother Ernest to work as a journalist. Alphonse then got to some serious writing. Some of his works are: “Tartarin of Tarascon”, “L’Arlesienne” and “Letters from my Mill”. He diede in 1897 in Paris.