The Knights of the Subjunctive
Rights sold to Rights sold to Italy (Salani) and Portugal (Asa Editores)
The young protagonists of Grammar is a Gentle Song have grown up. Jeanne is a daydreaming teenager interested in the mysteries of love; meanwhile Thomas is trying to find the key to another world. The Archipelago of Words is still under the dictatorship of President Nécrole whose police hunt down opposition. One day Thomas disappears and Jeanne is arrested. Saved by the island’s official cartographer, she sets off with him on a daring journey in a glider in the hopes of finding her brother. After flying over the Imperative and the Conditional, they land on the island of Subjunctives, Nécrole’s enemies. They are greeted by a redheaded young man passionate about freedom, and Jeanne soon discovers all the power of the imagination from these joyful rebels. In the factory where she finds her brother, engineers are busy cutting up the sea, the mirror of our dreams. She comes to understand that the love which strikes down the fearsome inspector, Madame Jargonos, is also a kind of subjunctive, the setting for dreams and desires. This discovery of words and tenses is far more than a lesson in conjugating, it is a beautiful and important life lesson, reminding us that people need “saving from what does not exist”. The inquisitive, impertinent Jeanne is our ideal guide through this exploration of the subtleties of the French language. Reading the “vast library” that is our world and giving it to others to read, the better to share it… what could be more enthusiastic?
Erik Orsenna is a member of the Académie française and won the Gouncourt prize for L’Exposition coloniale (Seuil, 1988). His other books include Longtemps (Fayard, 1998), La Grammaire est une chanson douce (Stock, 2001), Madame Bâ (Stock/Fayard, 2003) and more recently Voyage aux pays du coton (Fayard, 2006), La Chanson de Charles Quint (Stock, 2008), L’Avenir de l’eau (Fayard, 2008), L’Entreprise des Indes (Stock/Fayard, 2010) and Princesse Histamine (Stock, 2010).