A Must-See Place

Supporting the claim that readers build up a list of must-see places that their favourite authors frequented is this discovery in Rossi’s Le Voyageuse immortelle (2001, 10-11): Rossi remembers some friends of his saying they absolutely must see the place of the former Broussais Hospital on the corner of rue Curie in the old Doulon quartier of Nantes because it is the place where they believed, in 1916, André Breton worked as a medical intern.  André Breton met there Geneviève Mallarmé-Bonniot (1864-1919) as well as Jacques Vaché (1895-1919).   Vaché was a great inspiration to Breton; he died in Nantes on 6th January 1919, from an overdose of opium.    

The unpublished journal, or diary, of Mme Geneviève Mallarmé-Bonniot consists of 204 handwritten sheets running from Sunday 5th July 1914 to Tuesday 8 December 1917.  The part about Nantes starts at leaf or page 47. The journal was held by Mme Jacqueline Paysant in the 1990s.  I will continue to try to find this; it may be scanned by now and available from the BnF archives.

André Breton was already composing poetry since he dates his poem ‘À vous seule’ March, Nantes.

That postcard of the Broussais hospital courtyard but a closer inspection reveals blue ink stains from the sender’s message seeping through onto the photograph at the front.  Zoe would no doubt tell me that this is a clue that any serious travel writer would follow up! 

A postcard with the message ‘This place is a must-see’ would never be found in the place itself.  It would be part of that great postcard diaspora, always posted elsewhere.  This one of the hospital where André Breton worked in Nantes has travelled 100 kilometres south to a collector in the seaside town of Les Sables-d’Olonne.