Moby-Dick looms large in the world’s imagination. But until the mid-1930s – 80 years after it first appeared in English – it remained unavailable in French. ‘The Provencal’ novelist Jean Giono fell in love with the book. He inspired his friend Lucien Jacques to join him in the project of rendering Melville’s stirring prose. After they finished, their publisher persuaded Giono to write a preface. Giono was unwilling at first to accept – the translation had taken a few years to complete, and he was eager to move on. But he was brought around by the desire to introduce Melville to the French public. The result, issued as a separate volume in French, is an unparalleled intercultural creation, part preface, part biography, part philosophical rumination, part romance, part unfettered fantasy.