Winner of the Global Humanities Translation Prize
A classic of modern Provençal literature, Jóusè d’Arbaud’s 1926 masterpiece “The Beast of Vacarés” (also known as “The Beast of Vaccarès”) is a haunting parable. Set during the fifteenth century, the tale is narrated by a solitary bull herder—known as a gardian—who stumbles upon a starving creature that is half man, half goat. Terrified, the gardian is nonetheless drawn to the eloquent Beast, a dying demigod who laments the loss of his glorious past even as he wields power over the animals around him. Torn between pity and fear, unable to understand his experiences and afraid he will be condemned for heresy, the gardian records his encounters in a journal, hoping that one day readers will make sense of what he cannot.
Set in the vast, lonely landscape of the Camargue delta, where the Rhône meets the Mediterranean, The Beast seamlessly melds fantasy with naturalistic detail about the region’s flora and fauna. Three additional stories—“The Caraco,” “Pèire Guilhem’s Remorse,” and “The Longline”—explore the lives of twentieth-century gardians in the region. Each man succumbs to fears and social pressure, tragically losing what he most loves.