Le Pays d’Aoste, by Saint-Loup. 40 pages of text, with 68 photographs. Paris and Grenoble: B. Arthaud, 1952.
This latest addition to the superb “Collection Belles Pages” brings us another volume of beautiful mountain pictures marvelously reproduced. We find here not so much a series of mountaineering pictures as a well rounded group of photographs, showing all aspects of the Aosta region. Obviously in the country which abuts Mont Blanc, the Grandes Jorasses, the Grand Combin, the Matterhorn, and Monte Rosa the beautiful mountain scenery cannot be overlooked. Yet, here we see, too, peasants at work and at play, mountain hamlets, ancient villages, highland castles, and deep-cut valleys.
In the commentary which accompanies the pictures, Saint-Loup gives us a delightfully written description of the region. This book is no travel guide or a dry academic treatise on technical aspects. Its aim, admirably carried out, is to paint for us the soul of the district, which is changing rapidly as material progress pushes highways along thousand-year-old mule paths and builds hotels where formerly cattle grazed. We get a glimpse of the ethnology of the inhabitants, Celtic or Burgundian, of their long history from the time of Julius Caesar on, of the strange patois, of their customs to which they have clung until the present. Le Pays d’Aoste is a book that makes you declare you know the region even if you have never visited it and convinces you that you must as soon as possible spend some time in its valleys and on its peaks.
H. A. C.