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Sanne

Sanne

I like to read classics, historical fiction and world lit. Oh and I love short stories.

Gilles & Jeanne (Michel Tournier)

Gilles & Jeanne - Michel Tournier

The contrast between Jeanne d'Arc and Gilles de Rais isn't a novel subject for authors. There's, for instance, Lampo's "De duivel en de maagd" ("the Devil and the Virgin" - available in Dutch and French), plenty of cultural references and even an opera.
Tournier's take on it is an interesting character sketch of de Rais, his demonic delusions and his obsession with Jeanne.

Tournier has done extensive research into the court case and the figure of de Rais and he tells his story with great clarity. However, I didn't feel like he could conjure up the historical setting in great detail. The tidbits of everyday life, of 15th century reality remained vague and blurred. It gave the story the feel of a gruesome fairytale set in some far off land, instead of something that happened in 15th century France.

Something that might have contributed to that is that at times I felt that the language, especially the dialogue, was stilted. Though I don't know whether that's the Dutch translation, or if that's also the case in the French original.

So while this isn't a traditional historical fiction book in which you can get a glimps of the period, it is an interesting read for those interested in Jeanne d'Arc and her companions, as well as those looking for a bit of horror (no explicitly graphic content though).