Flanders' countryside in Belgium's early decades didn't belong to the hard-working farmers, like patriarch Van Paemel, who would rather die then consider any alternative to knowing his place and responding to problems like Animal farm's donkey, toiling even harder till it kills him anyhow. He rules his family expecting similar servitude, but cruel fate sees to it that his gentle son Desiré has a terrible, ill-compensated, never trialled life-long crippling rifle-accident, reducing the good, now unproductive boy to dreaming about emigration to America in never-ending pain, at the idle hands of the hunting party hosted by the baron who owns everything, and takes like his ruling class a very dim view at the demands, spearheaded by the young Socialist party, of the less docile new generation, whose protests are put down violently by gendarmes (paramiltary police)... Written by
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