Sunday, July 13, 2014

Where Shall I Begin?

Every day of learning about French history (which is, for me, simply the study of human nature and the progression of events packaged in an era) has been mesmerizing.  There have been highlights.   Among locations I've visited, the Conciergerie, Palais de Justice, the Cour de Commerce area, the route to the guillotine from the Conciergerie to the Place de la Révolution, the Cordelier Club, the Duplay home, the private rooms at the Petit Trianon, back rooms of the Versailles chapel, Le Hameau, St. Germain des Prés Church - each has had a special aura about it. Many Places have been profoundly meaningful to me.

But the threads running through the story, the souls of the story, have been People that I feel I've come to know through reading their words and words about them.  A handful are special to me - Marie Antoinette, of course, and Louis XVI, their families, the Princess de Lamballe, Charlotte Corday - a few Revolutionaries - Danton, Camille Desmoulins and his wife, Lucile.  Of them all, there's been one person who has been most intriguing, most compelling, and the one I'd most like to talk to.  Actually, as good as he was, he probably wouldn't have taken the time to talk to me, so talking to his representative about him would've been my first choice.

I don't want to make this person feel weird with my over-the-top recitation of how much it meant to me, but I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours discussing history and, to an extent, life, with Axel Fersen's descendant.  Thank God it's over, though, because the anticipation almost robbed me of my sanity.  He's probably crossing his fingers that it's over and that the continuing trickle of emails with last minute questions and comments will eventually evaporate and disappear.


I realize that my readership is minuscule and made up of only benevolent friends and family unwilling to go public by commenting, but if anyone happens upon this who knows who Count Axel Fersen is, you will surely exclaim, "Oh, my God, that's exactly what Axel Fersen's great-great-great-great-great nephew should look like!"

Those of you who know me personally, and know my family, will also exclaim, "I bet Michael made this dream come true!" and, of course, you'd be absolutely right.





I'll tell the story later.  Right now, I need to make reservations at the restaurant that my new friend, Fabian, and I think it's okay to call him friend - "discussing history and to an extent, life" can only result in friendship - recommended.  The restaurant, 1728, is located in Lafayette's former home, on the Place de Concorde, mere yards from the spot on which the guillotine was located during the French Revolution.  Hallowed ground.

And, I have to go to sleep, if I can, because tomorrow at 8:15, I'm going to Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau.

Tomorrow, I shall return (like Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen) and (like Paul Harvey) tell you "the rest of the story."

Why must I include all of those parenthetical mental detours like Hector P. Valenti and Paul Harvey references?  No wonder my readership is minuscule! Because, it's important to me, that's why.  I've got to get it all out of my head.

12 comments:

Danielle said...

Did you ask him how he does his paintings? What medium does he use? Does he paint the people himself or does he use pictures( I really hope he paints them...). I am impressed that you talked about history for two hours but I can't say I am surprised!! I always knew you were very smart.

Michael Denton said...

Fabian looks just like I thought he would. Really nice of him to have lunch and talk when he's had a show opening this week, but I bet he's really glad he did. Looking forward to reading and hearing the whole story. So glad it worked out. xoxo

SilverShund said...

Mon ami, je ne l'espère vous imprimez vos écrits ici et livre les lier pour vos descendants. Ces écrits sont un trésor.

Debe said...

You just must be so happy...I am happy for you. I opened the link to the restaurant where you had lunch & was excited to know just where you were!! Living vicariously in Paris with you. Your brother certainly gets credits for a long time, huh?
If you can, check your texts. I asked a question....
Keep letting us know what you are doing!!

Madeleine Doak said...

SilverShund, c'est gentil de votre part, et les appels de l'idée à l'amant de mémoire en moi. J'ai commencé à me demander si j'écris ma version de la vie des autres plus que je vis moi-même. Beaucoup trop de temps à l'ordinateur.

Post-scriptum Je triche avec Google Translate.

Madeleine Doak said...

Debe, yes, it's pretty amazing. Michael knows how to get it done, that's for sure. I owe him big time. Have fun with the frame and take pictures of whatever you create.

Madeleine Doak said...

Michael, you're incredible. Thank you for all the things you've done for me since you were old enough to walk and wait on me hand and foot. Lunch was exactly what I expected based on the emails we exchanged. We'll discuss at length, appropriately, at Anderson House. Some day, I'll have the pleasure of introducing the two of you there.

Anonymous said...

Madeleine - I hope your visit was worth the build up......I feel like I am on a reality show just waiting for the next big surprise!!!

Madeleine Doak said...

Danielle, I didn't have a chance to ask, but with any luck, some day I'll have a chance to artlessly fire questions at him again.

The gentleman in the portrait behind him (which is one of Fabian's) is his grandfather, Nils von Dardel, another famous Swedish artist.

Madeleine Doak said...

Anonymous, anticipation built for sixteen months. Events and impressions are slow to process and interpret, but I'm working on it. French Revolution Obsessed, Cardigan-Wearing, Introvert in Paris doesn't strike me as a marketable reality show. Non-fiction French Revolution themed soap opera would be a blockbuster.

Danielle said...

Introvert in Paris sounds like a perfect movie title!!! Well, I hope I can be there right along with you looking at his art, and that of many others while you fire away with history, whenever...Enjoy your vacation!
You would be fitting of the Edith Piaff song " Non, rien de rien, Je ne regrette rien"

Madeleine Doak said...

Dan, I'm enjoying it very much, but my feet are irreparably damaged from all the walking!