Baron on the tree
The incredible events of this novel, combining features and essays, and utopia, and philosophical satirical stories, occur at the turn of the XVIII and XIX centuries. His hero, Baron Cosimo di Rondo, at the age of twelve, protesting against the boiled snails served every day for dinner, climbs onto a tree and decides to spend all his life there, having set himself the rule of never touching the ground. And so, faithfully fulfilling his decision, young Cosimo begins to equip his life in the trees.
Learning to move from tree to tree, he enters the garden of the Marquise d’Andarive, where he meets his daughter Viola. However, their friendship does not last long – the girl is soon sent to the boarding school.
The importer of Cosimo is his younger brother Biagio – he wears blankets, umbrellas, food and everything necessary for his life. The humble abbot Foshelfler, who teaches the brothers all sciences, gives Cosimo lessons in the open air. Biagio sees how his older brother, “sitting on a branch of the elm and dangling his legs, and the abbot – downstairs, in the middle of the lawn on a bench,” repeat the hexameters in one voice. Then Biagio watches as the abbot, “dangling his long thin legs in black stockings,” tries to sit on a tree branch.
Cosimo successfully hunts and, like Robinson Crusoe, sews his own clothes from the skins of the animals they kill. He tames Viola’s
Cosimo takes fish, catches bee swarms and gradually ceases to observe the customs introduced in the family, such as going to mass, and less and less appears on the branch of an oak near the open window of the church.
In the forest where Cosimo lives, the robber Lesnaya Jan is in charge. Once, when the young baron sits on a branch and reads Gilles Blaz of Lesage, Lesnaya Jan jumps out into the clearing: the gangs chase him. Cosimo rescues the robber, and he asks him to read a book. Between them a touching friendship is fastened. Now all the books from the home library that Biagio is carrying to his brother are also read by Lesnoy Jan, from which they return “disheveled, with mold spots and snail tracks, because God knows where he kept them.” The robber gets used to reading, and “soon for a brother, always driven by an insatiable robber, reading from half an hour of fun turned into the main occupation and the main goal”, because before he gives the book to the robber, he has to at least view it: Lesnoy Jan is legible and does not read bad books.
During his acquaintance with the robber, Cosimo develops an irrepressible passion for reading and serious pursuits. He himself is looking for Abbot Aoshlafler and demands that he explain to him this or that subject. The kindest abbot writes out the newest books for his pupil, and gradually the rumor that in the castle of Baron di Rondo there lives “a priest who follows all the most blasphemous books in Europe”. The church tribunal arrests the abbot, and he has to spend the rest of his life in “prison and monastery”. Going to the hunt Cosimo does not have time to say goodbye to his mentor. Cosimo enters into correspondence with the largest scientists and philosophers of Europe. Unfortunately, these letters disappeared without trace – “probably were eaten by mold and gnawed with squirrels.”
Reading the “Encyclopedia” Diderot and d’Alembert, Cosimo imbued with a desire to “do something for the benefit of his neighbor.” With the help of Ogtimo-Massimo, he prevents forest fire, and then rescues the surrounding inhabitants from Muslim pirates.
Despite his turbulent life, Cosimo does not feel satisfaction: he still has not met love – how to find love in the trees? Suddenly, he learns that in Olivbas on trees a whole colony of Spaniards lives, and then embarks on a journey through the forests, “with great risk overcoming areas where there is almost no vegetation.”
In Olivbasse, a colony of exiles – Spanish feudal lords, who were indignant against King Charles III because of some privileges – really settled on the trees. Cosimo gets acquainted with Ursula and learns the mystery of love. Soon the Spaniards are forgiven, they descend from the trees and leave; the father of Ursula calls Cosimo with him – by marrying his daughter, he will become his heir. The young man refuses: “I settled on trees before you, stay on them and after you!” he replies.
Having arrived home, Cosimo is seriously ill. Recovering, he, forced to sit still on the tree, begins to write “The Draft Constitution of an Ideal State Located on Trees,” in which he describes an imaginary overground republic inhabited by just people. He sends his work to Diderot. Rumors about Cosimo wander around Europe, the newspapermen put it somewhere “between the hermaphrodite and the siren” in their fabrications. Revolves Viola – she grew up and became a real beauty. Children’s attachment turns into a violent passion. “For Cosimo, and for Viola too, the most beautiful time in life began, she rushed through the fields and roads on her white horse and, seeing Cosimo between the foliage and the sky, immediately climbed off the horse, climbed the curved trunk and thick branches” . Lovers learn each other and themselves.
After that, Cosimo wore tattered trees for a long time, sobbing and refusing to eat. Baron covers madness. It was during this period that he acquired the art of printing and began to publish brochures and newspapers. Gradually, the mind returns to Cosimo; he becomes a freemason, a magazine published by him, gets the name “Reasonable vertebral”.
Over Europe winds of freedom are blowing, in France there is a revolution. Cosimo helps local residents get rid of gamblers and tax collectors. A tree of freedom is planted in the village square, and Cosimo, with a tricolor cockade on a fur hat from the top, gives a speech about Rousseau and Voltaire.
Cosimo safely destroys the regiment of Austrians, deepened into the forest, and inspires a detachment of French volunteers under the command of the poet, Lieutenant Papillon. Soon the French troops from the republics become imperial and pretty fed up with the locals. Making a trip to Italy after the coronation, Napoleon meets with the famous “patriot living on trees” and says: “If I were not Emperor Napoleon, I would like to be a citizen of Cosimo Rondo!”
Cosimo is getting old. The army of Napoleon is broken on the Berezina, the British landed in Genoa, all waiting for new coups. The nineteenth century, having begun badly, continues even worse. “The shadow of the Restoration has hung over Europe, all reformers, be it Jacobins or Bonapartists, are defeated, absolutism and the Jesuits are triumphant again in victory, the ideals of youth, the bright lights and hopes of our eighteenth century – everything turned into ashes.” The inveterate Cosimo lies on the set of beds on the tree for days on end, basking near the brazier. Suddenly a hot air balloon is shown in the sky, and the minute he flies by Cosimo, the one with “really youthful dexterity” grabs his dangling rope with an anchor and, carried away by the wind, disappears into the sea distance.
“So Cosimo disappeared, not giving us consolation to see,