17th Century Gossip Column

from Tallemant, sieur des Réaux 1619-1692…


One of M. d’Orléans’ followers was Sauvage. He was a very agreeable fellow, whose god was his belly. He used to give admirable imitations of the songs of the Pont Neuf.


When Monsieur had gone away to Lorraine, he was anxious to seek him out, and, in order to get hold of boots cheaply, he ordered a pair from each of ten or twelve different shoemakers, giving them different hours to call. To each one he declared that one boot was too tight, and then gave them all one time at which to bring them back. When they came – they found nobody!

From Brussels Sauvage used to send gazettes full of inventions to spike the wheels of Renaudot, whose Gazette de France was beginning to circulate. (1631) The gazette of Sauvage was much more popular than the other. Moreover, for the sake of diversion, he used every day to contrive some imposture or other.

It was he who had engraved the representation of a fish which he styled ‘the Adriatic Carp,’ in the body of which had been found, according to the inscription, I know not how many muskets, halberds, crosses etc. This circulated throughout France.

His last imposture was an edict of the parliament of Grenoble, whereby a certain child was declared legitimate, although the mother confessed that it was conceived during her husband’s absence, on the grounds that it was done by the force of imagination, she thinking that he was living with her. The names were given, and those of the doctor and midwife too.

Plenty of good folk believed it.

It was written in the true style of Grenoble, and the Procurator-General of Paris wrote to that of Grenoble concerning this edict.

The parliament there issued one against the author, whereof the latter only made mock.

In the medical schools the question was debated whether the force of imagination could suffice to produce a conception.

Sometimes Sauvage concocted also satiric gazettes, as that one in which he said: ‘The God of the Charente who appeared to Balzac has arrived here, as little of a God as ever.’

In a Dark Wood Wandering

Post Taken from my other blog The Mysteries of Jehanne d’Arc

The novel In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S Haasse is a tour de force and recommended to any one interested in 15th century France generally and Charles d’Orléans specifically.

In a Dark Wood Wandering
In a Dark Wood Wandering

‘Set in France and England during the Middle Ages…It opens in Paris in 1394. Valentine, Duchess of Orléans, has just given birth to a son, Charles…As the course of Charles’ dramatic life unfolds we absorb the atmosphere and excitement of a whole society and meet an extraordinary range of characters, from the mad King Charles V and his icy Bavarian Queen to the bastard Dunois, a born soldier and the right arm of Joan of Arc…’

There is much more to this novel though.

Hella Haase first started researching during the late 1930’s as her homeland, Holland, became embroiled in the Second World War.

Het woud der verwachting – literally The Forest of Long Awaiting – was first published in 1947 to great success in Holland.

Then, in the 1953, a postal clerk and part-time translator called Lewis C Kaplan, found a publication in his office in Chicago with a review of Haase’s novel and immediately decided to translate the book into English.

He contacted the author and gained her permission. It took 5 years to complete the first draft, none of which was to Kaplan’s satisfaction. Then he suddenly fell ill and died.

Kaplan’s widow packed and stored the unnamed manuscript that her husband had spent so many years translating.

Meanwhile, Hella Haase, wondering occasionally about the English translation of her work, hesitated to contact Kaplan and ask how far he had progressed.

The manuscript lay hidden for twenty years.

Then, in the 1970’s, fire broke out in the Kaplan apartment in Chicago and during the clear up, Het woud der verwachting, sodden but not burned, was found.

Neither Mrs Kaplan nor her son could remember the name of the original author but both were intrigued and spent many months investigating. Kalman Kaplan even set about finishing his father’s translation from Dutch to English and eventually tied the book to Hella Haasse and gained her permission to market it in 1982.

In 1989 , after 40 years of misadventure, Het woud der verwachting was published under the new title In a Dark Wood Wandering: A Novel of the Middle Ages.

A fitting history to a fascinating book.