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Author J. M. G. Le Clézio
Bruno Doucey (3rd ed.)
Original title Awaité Pawana
Translator Brunski,Christophe
Illustrator Georges Lemoine (2nd/3rd ed.)
Country France
Language French
Genre Short story collection
Publisher Gallimard
Publication date
26 July 1992
Pages 54
ISBN 978-2-07-072806-0
OCLC 27025357

Pawana (or: Awaité Pawana) is a short story written in French by French Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio.

Historical Basis[edit]

According to the author this is a true story about the whaler Charles Melville Scammon (1825–1911).[1] In December 1857, Charles Scammon, in the brig Boston, along with his schooner-tender Marin, entered Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Jack-Rabbit Spring Lagoon), later known as Scammon's Lagoon, and found one of the Gray Whale's last refuges. The story resembles the tale of Captain Ahab in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, who was also on the deck of a wooden ship searching for a white whale.

Pawana is about the discovery of a lagoon in Mexico at the end of the 19th century where gray whales went to reproduce. After Captain Scammon mistakenly decided to exterminate the whales, he realized that he had made a mistake so terrible it could become irreparable. Captain Scammon then set about dedicating his life's work to saving these whales (and was helped by a Mexican revolutionary in doing so).[2]

Meaning of "Awaité Pawana"[edit]

"Awaité Pawana" is the cry uttered by the lookout when he spies the whales.


Araceli, the old Indian slave from Nantucket tells a young cabin boy about the exploits of the Indians of the past through mime and gesture. John, the eighteen-year-old cabin boy and Captain Scammon alternate in recounting a journey.


Georges Lavaudant staged Pawana for the Festival d'Avignon [3]


Read a ten page review of "Awaite Pawana" online [4]

Publication history[edit]

First French edition[edit]

  • Le Clézio, J. M. G (1992). Awaité Pawana (in French). Paris: Gallimard. p. 54. ISBN 978-2-07-072806-0. 

Second French edition[edit]

  • Le Clézio, J. M. G; Illustrated by Georges Lemoine (1995/1999). Awaité Pawana (in French). Paris: Gallimard-Jeunesse (1995:Lecture junior, 52;1999 Folio junior, 1001)). p. 87. ISBN 978-2-07-058777-3.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

Third French edition[edit]

  • Le Clézio, J. M. G (2003). Awaité Pawana (in French). Illustrated by Georges Lemoine ;lecture accompagnée par Bruno Doucey. Paris: Gallimard :La bibliothèque Gallimard. pp. 127/144. ISBN 978-2-07-042842-7. 

First English Translation[edit]

"Awaité Pawana" was translated into English as "Pawana" by Christophe Brunski (AGNI Magazine:published at Boston University 2008)there is a translation available online[5]


  1. ^ "Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of North America". by Charles Scammon, 1874. 200-12-21. Archived from the original on 2009-10-21. Retrieved 13 January 2009.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ "RÉSUMÉ :" (in French). Retrieved 13 January 2009. "C'est une histoire authentique, celle d'un baleinier, Charles-Melville Scammon, précise Le Clézio. Cet homme aussi fabuleux et légendaire que le capitaine Achab, de Moby Dick de Melville, après avoir découvert au Mexique à la fin du siècle dernier une lagune où se reproduisaient les baleines grises, décida de les exterminer..." Puis, se rendant compte qu'il commettait une erreur irréparable, il consacra sa vie leur sauvegarde, aidé par les révolutionnaires mexicains. 
  3. ^ Lavaudant, Georges (1992-07-26). "Pawana Theatre;Festival d'Avignon in July 1992". TNP-Villeurbanne. Retrieved 2008-11-14. Georges Lavaudant staged Pawana for the Festival d'Avignon 
  4. ^ Thibault, Bruno (2008) [1997]. ""Awaité Pawana": J. M. G. Le Clézio's Vision of the Sacred". Journal Article:, Cengage Learning ,2008 Gale. University of Oklahoma /World Literature Today. Retrieved 2008-11-20. These two narrative voices, which present two contrasting perspectives of the same event, possess a certain theatrical quality. [dead link]
  5. ^ Brunski, Christophe (2008). "Pawana by J. M. G. Le Clézio translated from the French". AGNI Magazine : published at Boston University. Retrieved 2008-11-10.