Sunday, September 15, 2013


We never went to Chinon; it was a fatality.  We planned it a dozen times; but the weather interfered, or the trains didn’t suit, or one of the party was fatigued with the adventures of the day before.  The excursion was so much postponed that it was finally postponed to everything.  Besides, we had to go on to Chenonceaux, to Azay-le-Rideau, to Langeais, to Loches.  So I have not the memory of Chinon; I have only the regret.  But regret, as well as memory, has its visions, especially when, like memory, it is assisted with photographs.  

The castle of Chinon in this form appears to me as an enormous ruin, a mediaeval fortress, of the extent almost of a city.  It covers a hill above the Vienne, and after being impregnable in its time is indestructible to-day.  (I risk this phrase in the face of the prosaic truth.  Chinon, in the days when it was a prize, more than once suffered capture, and at present it is crumbling inch by inch.   It is apparent, however, I believe, that these inches encroach little upon acres of masonry.)

From:  Henry James, A Little Tour In France (1884)


  1. My third time through this delectable bit of James, I realized that from the start I had been reading it as though it were being narrated by the German Shepherd in the top shot.

    Upon subsequent readings I found myself unable to dispel the original misconception.

    Very duck/rabbit.

    Also inappropriate certainly, as James did not go about inventing animal narrators.

    Still, he might well have done.

    (By the by, moving up from the Now, Voyager post below, I recalled dimly that the Nancy Griffith original of From a Distance had been piped up to some astronaut crew or other, as a wakeup call. Perhaps it was a space shuttle? Likely Jane would know.)

    I believe by the by that this comment ought to be submitted to the AARP essay of the day panel. It has all the earmarks of the work of one of those dithering dads about whom the relatives get that recurring phone call. "Hello, we have your father here and he doesn't seem to remember how he got here... again."

  2. I'm really glad you liked this. We came across the James in one of our (Caroline's, rather) "cleaning is finding" exercises. I've been enjoying the book more than I can say. I don't love the song From A Distance, but it's a pretty melody and seems to fit. If you don't know this version, The Byrds (McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman) recorded it so that they could include new material in a CD box set re-release some time ago. By the way, a highlight of Caroline's career was having the opportunity to work with Nanci Griffith for many years as her publicist at MCA Records. She's tremendously talented, we think, and is also a fine person who keeps it pretty much together in a challenging business. My personal favorites of hers have always been the songs You Made This Love A Teardrop and Once In A Very Blue Moon, but I could listen to her sing most anything. Curtis