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A Little Tour in France von James, Henry (eBook)

  • Erschienen: 02.08.2016
  • Verlag: anboco
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A Little Tour in France

A Little Tour in France is a book of travel writing by Henry James. Originally published under the title En Province in 1883-1884 as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly, the book recounts a six-week tour James made of many provincial towns in France, including Tours, Bourges, Nantes, Toulouse, Arles and several others. The first book publication was in 1884. A second, extensively revised edition was published in 1900. James gives the idea for the book in the first paragraph of the first installment of the original magazine serial: 'France may be Paris, but Paris is not France.' He conceived the book as a description of and even homage to the provinces. James had tried living in Paris before settling in London in 1876. He returned to France in 1882 to discover more of French provincial life than he had previously been able to see.

Produktinformationen

    Größe: 4635kBytes
    Herausgeber: anboco
    Sprache: Englisch
    Seitenanzahl: 500
    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Unterstützte Lesegerätegruppen: PC/MAC/eReader/Tablet
    ISBN: 9783736405509
    Erschienen: 02.08.2016
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A Little Tour in France

Chapter iii

Tours: Saint Martin

I HAVE mentioned the church of Saint Martin, which was for many years the sacred spot, the shrine of pilgrimage, of Tours. Originally the simple burial-place of the great apostle who in the fourth century Christianised Gaul and who, in his day a brilliant missionary and worker of miracles, is chiefly known to modern fame as the worthy that cut his cloak in two at the gate of Amiens to share it with a beggar (tradition fails to say, I believe, what he did with the other half), the abbey of Saint Martin, through the Middle Ages, waxed rich and powerful, till it was known at last as one of the most luxurious religious houses in Christendom, with kings for its titular abbots (who, like Francis I., sometimes turned and despoiled it) and a great treasure of precious things. It passed, however, through many vicissitudes. Pillaged by the Normans in the ninth century and by the Huguenots in the sixteenth, it received its death-blow from the Revolution, which must have brought to bear upon it an energy of destruction proportionate to its mighty bulk. At the end of the last century a huge group of ruins alone remained, and what we see to-day may be called the ruin of a ruin. It is difficult to understand how so vast an edifice can have been so completely obliterated. Its site is given up to several ugly streets, and a pair of tall towers, separated by a space which speaks volumes as to the size of the church and looking across the close-pressed roofs to the happier spires of the cathedral, preserve for the modern world the memory of a great fortune, a great abuse, perhaps, and at all events a great penalty. One may believe that to this day a considerable part of the foundations of the great abbey is buried in the soil of Tours. The two surviving towers, which are dissimilar in shape, are enormous; with those of the cathedral they form the great landmarks of the town. One of them bears the name of the Tour de l'Horloge; the other, the so-called Tour Charlemagne, was erected (two centuries after her death) over the tomb of Luitgarde, wife of the great Emperor, who died at Tours in 800. I do not pretend to understand in what relation these very mighty and effectually detached masses of masonry stood to each other, but in their grey elevation and loneliness they are striking and suggestive to-day; holding their hoary heads far above the modern life of the town and looking sad and conscious, as they had outlived all uses. I know not what is supposed to have become of the bones

TOURS-THE TOWERS OF ST. MARTIN

[Click to view image enlarged.]

Tours: Saint Martin

of the blessed saint during the various scenes of confusion in which they may have got mislaid; but a mystic connection with his wonder-working relics may be perceived in a strange little sanctuary on the left of the street, which opens in front of the Tour Charlemagne-whose immemorial base, by the way, inhabited like a cavern, with a diminutive doorway where, as I passed, an old woman stood cleaning a pot, and a little dark window decorated with homely flowers, would be appreciated by a painter in search of "bits." The present shrine of Saint Martin is enclosed (provisionally, I suppose) in a very modern structure of timber, where in a dusky cellar, to which you descend by a wooden staircase adorned with votive tablets and paper roses, is placed a tabernacle surrounded by twinkling tapers and prostrate worshippers. Even this crepuscular vault, however, fails, I think, to attain solemnity; for the whole place is strangely vulgar and garish. The Catholic Church, as churches go to-day, is certainly the most spectacular; but it must feel that it has a great fund of impressiveness to draw upon when it opens such sordid little shops of sanctity as this. It is impossible not to be struck with the grotesqueness of such an establishment as the last link in the chain

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