First volume of "SOUVENIRS D'ENFANCE" ("CHILDHOOD MEMORIES"), completed by three other parts ("LE CHÂTEAU DE MA MÈRE" / "MY MOTHER'S CASTLE", "LE TEMPS DES SECRETS / "THE TIME OF SECRETS", "LE TEMPS DES AMOURS" / "THE TIME OF LOVE").
Monte-carlo, Pastorelly, 1957.
"In those "Memories", I shall speak neither evil nor well of myself; I do not talk about myself, but about the child I no longer am. He is a little character I have known in the past and who has faded away into the current climate, like sparrows do when they pass away without leaving a trace of a skeleton behind. For that matter, he is not the subject of the present book, but only a testimony to very small events."
In this first volume, Pagnol relates how he discovered the hills in the massif de l'Etoile and recalls his entire family, particularly Joseph, the glorious rock partridge hunter.
I triumphed over the rule of three, I learnt – in endless joy – that a Titicaca lake existed somewhere in the world, and Louis X the Stubborn, "hibouchougenou" and those irritating rules that govern our past participles.
My brother Paul, for his part, had thrown away his spelling book, and would now tackle the Pieds Nickelés* philosophy.
A little sister was born, just while we were both at my aunt's who had offered to look after us for two days and flip some pancakes to celebrate Candlemas.
This ill-timed invitation prevented me from fully checking the daring hypothesis exposed by Mangiapan, my classroom neighbor, who claimed that children came out of their mother's belly button.
Such an idea had first seemed preposterous to me: but, one evening, following a long scrutiny of my belly button, I observed that it actually looked like a button hole with, in the center, some sort of small button: I therefore concluded that it was certainly possible to unbutton it and that Mangiapan was right.
*Translator's note: Pieds Nickelés are early 20th century French cartoon characters.