13 January 2013

André Blavier #4: Ernest de Garay, aka Karl-des-Monts

Little is known of Ernest de Garay. He wrote several books, such as Les Légendes des Pyrénées (1857), in which he concentrated on the legends of the Basque country. He was also a lawyer for the imperial court of Paris, but for political reasons for imprisoned in an insane asylum in Pau, from which he wrote his most noted work under the pseudonym of Karl-des-Monts; this is Un martyre dans une maison de fous ('A Martyr in a Madhouse'), and Blavier's excerpts from it contain Garay's definition of madness and several of his prison letters, especially to Octavie, whom he addresses in loving terms.

He rails against the director for many different things: his missing or rotten teeth, his idiotic smile, his dirty beard, his corpse-like smell, attempting to draw an accurate picture of a 'manufacturer of madness'; and he rails against the madhouse itself for being a Père Lachaise des intelligences where he sleeps on a straw bed under a horse blanket. The conditions, the awful cloaical smells, are appalling, but it is surely his graphic description of a man killed by scalding water from a boiler whose tap was negligently left on that horrifies the reader the most.
 
Un martyre dans une maison de fous was re-published recently.

Links to my other posts on André Blavier's Les Fous littéraires are below:

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André Blavier #1: Jean-Pierre Brisset, Paulin Gagne
André Blavier #2: Alexandre Ansaldi, G. Clair/Rupin Schkoff, Camarasa
André Blavier #3: Hyacinthe Dans
André Blavier #5: Francisque Tapon-Fougas
André Blavier #6: Jules Allix

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