THE GREAT FIRE


Le Grand incendie - Barroux - 2016 - 7 years and up - 24 x 29 cm – 32 p. – hardcover – 14 €

An ode to books, to freedom and the power of words.


Black smoke is rising from the city centre. A fire has been raging for days, perhaps months. In his palace, the Sultan rejoices. One by one, his kingdom’s books are being thrown into the flames and soon, all traces of the past will have disappeared. Only his own history will remain. When the fire finally goes out, a child sifts through the ashes and finds a scrap of paper that has resisted the flames. On it is a line of poetry that reads: “O wonder, a garden in the flames.” Overcoming his fear, he copies it onto the palace walls. The crowd starts to imitate him, writing down all the words they can think of before they disappear from memory. The weight of these words leads to the collapse of the palace walls – and the tyrant. Barroux’s paintings offer splendid variations on colours. Lines of Arabic poetry appear here and there in the text and images.

 

This timeless fable highlights the power of words and culture against dictatorships; it is an ode to books and freedom of expression.

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