A Must-See Place

Apr 10, 2016 |
Geneviève Mallarmé-Bonniot (1864-1919)

Geneviève Mallarmé-Bonniot (1864-1919)

Supporting my 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 former Broussais Hospital on the corner of rue Curie in the old Doulon quartier of Nantes because it is the place where, 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, allegedly from an overdose of opium.

Old postcard of the hospital

The unpublished journal, or diary, of Mme Geneviève Mallarmé-Bonniot consists of 204 handwritten sheets running from Sunday 5th July 1914 to Tuesday 8 December 1917.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. A handwritten copy by Breton is available to view on the site http://www.andrebreton.fr/andre_breton

Blue ink stains from post-card message

Blue ink stains from postcard message

I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at 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.

Posted in: Travels with Charlie in Search of French | Tags: , , , ,

One Response

  1. #Romain Martinez – A Google+ Local Guide for Nantes


    J’ai trouvé plusieurs romans et polars sur ce site (il faut faire le tri car tous n’en sont pas) :

    Par exemple :
    – Des garçons qui tremblent – Stéphane Hoffmann
    – Et toujours ces ombres sur le fleuve – Nathalie de Broc
    – Selon les premiers éléments de l’enquête – Stéphane Pajot
    – Couleur canari – Jean Failler
    – Petits meurtres nantais – Christian Denis
    – Trois Folies Nantaises – Dominique Labarrière
    – La mélodie des cendres – Hervé Sard
    – Le fond de l’air est vache – Bertrand Gilet
    – La Trace du silure – Sylvain Forge
    – La forme d’une ville – Julien Gracq
    – Les dossiers de l’homme de l’ombre, dossier 2 : Vengeance : JPB

    Il faudrait creuser pour chacun pour voir si l’histoire fait bel et bien une place importante à Nantes.