19 August 2019

Ecological joke in Saint-Denis-de-l'Hotel, Loiret (45)

A customer at a supermarket:
'Could a have a plastic bag please?'
'It's in the fish, sir!!!'

Maurice Genevoix in Saint-Denis-de-l'Hotel, Loiret (45)

Ah, la Maison Maurice Genevoix, which we knew wouldn't be open at the time we went, but we didn't expect this - nothing on the internet, etc.

Marguerite Audoux, Sancoins, Cher (18)

As this plaque says, Marquerite Audoux, author of Marie-Claire, was born in this area of Sancoins on 7 July 1863.

Suzanne Brucy, Sancoins, Cher (18)

Suzanne Brucy (1872-1903) was the daughter of a friend of Jean Baffier's. With Baffier's own grave and Hugues Lapaire's, these three form the most interesting graves in Sancoins cemetery.

Hugues Lapaire, Sancoins, Cher (18)

Poet, novelist and literary critic Hugues Lapaire (1869-1967) was born in Sancoins, where he died at the age of 97. Berry was his main inspiration, and he produced many works in both French and patois berrichon, although he also defended Nivernais and Bourbonnais traditions and values. He lost he father at the age of two, was brought up by his grandparents, and much lamented the dying of peasant society. It was in the lycée in Moulins that he met Alfred Crépin, director of Le Courrier de l'Allier, which led him to a taste in literature. Meeting Jean Baffier was even more decisive to his future, and later he met Achille Millien and contributed on several occasions to the Revue du Nivernais. Moving to Paris, he made his presence known as a patois poet. His early novels Le Courandier (1904), and L’Epervier (1906) were regional, along with a number of other works. He also published many books on the history of the region. A square in Sancoins is dedicated to him, with a bust, and he is buried in Sancoins cemetery. Jean Baffier sculpted La Prieuse in an arched niche above his grave, although a copy of it was stolen in 2011.

Jean Baffier, Sancoins, Cher (18)

Jean Baffier was a sculptor and writer born in Berry (Neuvy-le-Barrois, Cher) in 1851 and died in Paris in 1920. He had a kind of epiphany on working on the restoration a Nevers cathedral and took lessons in sculpture in Paris, making a name in bronze figures and pewter vases, etc. He was also a staunch regionalist interested in the traditional music and popular tales of Berry. On the negative side, he had reactionary, anti-Semitic opinions which he expressed in local papers such as Journal du Cher and Dépêche du Berry. A square with a bust representing him is in Sancoins, where he is buried.

18 August 2019

La Maison de George Sand, Nohant-Vic, Indre (36)

George Sand (1804-76) was brought up by her grandmother in Nohant-Vic. From 1830 until her death she wrote many novels, short stories, plays and newspaper and journal articles. She spent much of her time between Berry and Paris. The house here is an 18th century rebuild of a medieval manor house. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted inside the house 'for safety reasons and to protect furniture' (their published words in English). My comment on this is that those words are  most meaningless: places I've come across before with this policy do so only to sell postcards and general tat. Anyway, what is the point of visiting a place if you have no personal experiences to take away, about from elusive memory? Swerve.

There exists, though, a number of things to see around the house for free.

The back of the house.

A tiny part of the garden, with the house on the left. The cemetery is fascinating.

On the right, George Sand's daughter Gabrielle Solange Clésier (1828-99), née Dudevant Sand, wife of the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Clésinger, and almost certainly the product of a relationship between Sand and Stéphane Ajasson de Grandsagne. Solange wrote three novels.

On the left, Jeanne Gabrielle Clésinger (1849-55), Sand's grand-daughter.

On the right, Marie Aurore de Saxe (1748-1821), Sand's grandmother.

On the left, Maurice François Dupin (1778-1808), Sand's father.

Claudine Jeanne Aurore Dudevant Sand (1866-1961), wife of Frédéric Lauth, and Sand's grand-daughter.

George Sand (1804-76), Amantine Aurore Dupin, Baronne Dudevant, wife of Casimir Dudevant.

Marc-Antoine Sand Dudevant (1863-64), Sand's grandson.

Maurice Dudevant (1823-1889), Baron Dudevant, Sand's son.

Marceline Claudine Augustine Calamatta (1842-1901), Maurice Dudevant's wife, and Sand's daughter-in-law.

Gabrielle Jeanne Lucille Dudevant Sand (1868-1909), Roméo Palazzi's wife, and Sand's grand-daughter.

Antoinette Sophie Victoire Delaborde (1773-1837), Maurice Dupin's wife, and Sand's mother.

Edmond Plauchut (1824-1909), a friend of the family, and a writer.

George Sand by Jean-Baptiste, or Auguste, Clésinger, Sand's son-in-law.

Maurice, George Sand's son.

17 August 2019

Evelyn Graham Frost in Varennes Vauzelles, Nièvre (58)

This memorial commemorates the death of the American aviator (and poet, it is stated) Evelyn Graham Frost, who was flying with the English pilot Ruddle. The plane crashed here on 5 January 1934. The plane left Orly on that day, flew through mist, and then hit a high-tension cable. Frost, who lived in France and had held her pilot's licence for a year, was burned to death. Her companion escaped with slight injuries. Poet? Well, the only reference to Frost's poetry I can find is a poem called 'Memory' which was published in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, in July 1932. This is it in full:

'Now leaning through the cyclamens of sleep,
Myself now one with each faint-scented stem,
I dreamt I drank the color of your voice;

And those high instants wherein each may keep
His trysts with sounds beyond the verge of noise
Were trapped within that music's interim.

Your hair streamed one with the straight growth of light,
Your fabulous long hands enclosed my sky,
My whole world arched beneath your rare bright palms;

While like soft petals, than all skies more bright,
Your fingers blurred to nearness, and your arms
Parted the cyclamens and crept to me.

It seemed there was no world beyond your mouth,
No space-time but the one that here compressed
Meaning and truth to your strong lips; it seemed

That neither east no west nor north nor south
Had substance now, nor all the heavens dreamed
In all the values life makes manifest.

Then slowly, from that dream's apocalypse,
Moved the pale brightness of your face; I knew
Stirless and exquisite, each plane withdrawn.

The flowers that were your hands moved to eclipse
In other skies than mine; each tone moved on,
Each echo muted; and then slumber grew;

And on the edge of sleep's giant interim
Waking, I wept beneath each frail pink stem.'

The Frescoes in l'église Saint Martin, Nohant-Vic, Indre (36)

L'Église Saint Martin de Vic is two kilometres from George Sand's house, and Sand underlined its importance. It is indeed a masterpiece of France's religious heritage, with its magnificent frescoes from the twelfth century. Due to scaffolding and covering, I was unable to take a suitable photo of the exterior.

Jacques Tati in Sainte-Sévère-sur-Indre, Indre (36)

Sainte-Sévère-sur-Indre, where Jacques Tati's first full-length film Jour de Fête (1947) was largely filmed, is very much influenced by the film and the director, as the central square and its shops, etc, can't fail to remind us. There's an eponymous museum which shows a film of the making of it, a statue of François the postman (played by Tati himself) stands outside it, and there's even an app giving information on various places shown in the film throughout the small (850 pop.) village. Actor Pierre Richard was guest of honour at the inauguration ceremony at Sainte-Sévère on the 70th anniversary of the film, where a roundabout operated by pedal power (similar to that used in the film) was permanently installed. There's also a roulotte (gypsy caravan) to remind of the fête foraine.

Le Musée des racines and l'abbé Aymon, Thevet-Saint-Julien, Indre (36)

L'abbé Aymon was the priest in Thevet-Saint-Julien from 1941 to 1987, during which time he sculpted shapes from the natural world, namely roots. From roots his knife created small and large representations of animals, from, say, giraffes to bugs. The church St Julien was built at the end of the 12th century to the beginning of the 13th, although it is shot through with the work of L'abbe Aymon in the 20th century, who made very remarkable wooden sculptures, such as the balustrade, which (conventionally enough) bear the words: 'Le Seigneur-Dieu les expulsa du jardin d'Eden' on the left, but on the right the very less conventional: 'O heureuse faute qui nous valut le redempteur'. A remarkable museum, a remarkable church, and a remarkable curé, who was not only a religious figure, but also an artist, an inventor, and something of a voyant. Le Musée des racines remembers this man, illustating his artistic work by its many examples of sculpted wood. It is quite a fascinating place to visit.

The church is just opposite Le Musée de racines, with its oak door (made from nearby trees) representing the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luc and John and their symbols, a rather bad shot I took of the balustrade, and an example of the a carved wooden pillar: all sculpted by l'abbé Aymon.