The Hussard on the roof

The Hussar on the Roof is an adventure novel written by Jean Giono , originally published inpublished by Gallimard 1 . It is part of the “Cycle Hussard”, that is to say, in the order of their writing:

  • The stories of the demi-brigade
  • Angelo
  • Death of a character
  • The Hussard on the roof
  • Crazy Happiness

Because some of the characters of Hussard appear there, the cycle takes the name of stories of the demi-brigade .

For reasons of chronological consistency, these novels have not been published in this order: the Hussard being the first.


Around 1832 , Angelo Pardi, a young Italian Carbonaro aristocrat , was a colonel of hussars , who had to flee his native Piedmont after having killed an Austrian officer, Baron Schwartz, in a duel for the cause of his camp. He crossed the French border, and arrived in Provence then in the midst of an epidemic of cholera . Responsible for finding Giuseppe, his friend and brother of milk, he arrives in Manosque , ravaged by the epidemic. Accused of poisoning the fountains, he takes refuge on the roofs of the city, where he lives from his explorations in the deserted houses. At random of one of these expeditions, he meets a young woman, Pauline de Théuswho welcomes him without fear despite the contagion.

Going down from the roofs, he is enlisted by a nun who cleans the dead. He then rubs shoulders with the horror of the disease but accomplishes his task “perfectly useless” out of pride, and in memory of the “little Frenchman”, a young doctor bent on saving the sick who all die in his arms, and whom Angelo has tried in vain to wrest from death.

To counter the contagion, the authorities evacuate the city towards the surrounding hills. Angelo meets Giuseppe there, but the ravages of cholera and the dangers of their lives as conspirators force them to flee and to meet in the mountains near the Drôme in Sainte-Colombe . But the country is entirely surrounded by the army. At a dam, Angelo finds Pauline de Théus seeking to join her husband near Gap, and together, they cross the line in a small fight where the young woman shows an exemplary courage and Angelo is delighted by the fact that it shows a lot of spirit and imposing. They travel a few days together, they discover each other, sleeping under the stars, Angelo protecting Pauline, she giving him the means to make the spirit.

But the soldiers are everywhere, and the two travelers are arrested and put in quarantine at Vaumeilh . They escape easily, and resume their journey. They fall into an ambush in a village, escape, and, exhausted, spend another night under the stars. The next day, they find a large empty house, come, after discovering the wine cellar, confidences. Angelo speaks of his mother, a very romantic and revolutionary Italian duchess, and Pauline of her childhood and her husband, forty years older than her, but whom she really loves. Angelo sleeps at her door to protect her.

The next day must mark the end of their journey, and cholera seems far away. They let themselves go to forget the very strict rules they imposed to avoid contagion, and share the meal of an enigmatic scholar met on the road. A few hours later, Pauline collapses, disgorging the rice pudding that Giono was pleased to add to the symptoms of cholera. Angelo treats her all night long, with tenderness and relentlessness, and saves her miraculously. The next day finds them transformed: this night was, in a way, the fulfillment of an extraordinary, impossible and inevitable love.

But Angelo is proud of his aristocratic status, Pauline can not behave like an adulterous bourgeois, and their relationship remains platonic. Angelo then accompanies Pauline to her husband, and leaves to make his revolution.



The cholera has never existed in its symptoms and its importance as described in the book. It’s actually a symbol. Indeed, the characters do not catch the cholera realistically. Angelo will have multiple contacts with patients, however he will never catch him. Cholera can highlight egoism, hatred, fear, passivity … The characters who have these temperaments catch cholera. Angelo despises the contagion, so he does not catch it. It is, for example, the fear of cholera that kills, not the cholera itself.

In an interview, Giono explains:

“Cholera is a developer, a chemical reactor that exposes the basest or noblest temperaments. ref.  desired]

Thus, “putting” cholera on a person makes it possible to see who she really is by “naked”, so as to reveal the hidden face of her personality.

Similarly Provence 1830s was amplified in its dimensions for the needs of the novel.


Movies & TV

  • The Hussard on the Roof , film directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau , released in 1995 , with Juliette Binoche and Olivier Martinez .


  • Véronique Anglard 2 , The Novels of Giono , Seuil, Paris, 1997 ( ISBN  2020308541 and 978-2020308540 )
  • Marcelline Jacob-Champeau, ” The hussar on the roof “, Jean Giono: Executive summary, Nathan, Paris, 1995
  • Maurice Maucuer, The Hussar on the roof , Giono: critical analysis , Hatier, Paris, 1985
  • Sophie Lecomte, The Hussar on the roof of Jean Giono, fact sheet : Complete analysis of the work, 2014

Notes and references

On other Wikimedia projects:

  • The Hussar on the roof , on Wikiquote
  1. Index of Libraries Marseille  [ archive ]
  2. ↑ Véronique Anglard  [ archive ] on

Leave a comment