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"The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 18 November, 2019 05:34PM
Clark Ashton Smith presents “The End of The Story” as the last testament of one Touraine law-student M. Christophe Morand. This record was found among his father’s papers near Moulins, formerly in province Bourbonnais, dated – Smith says – November 1798.

Morand has, between these cities, traversed the “district” Averoigne (“Gargoyles” will name it “province”, itself an anachronism in the 1100s). Here Morand has visited a Benedictine abbey, Périgon. More to the point, here: Mourand plans to revisit the region. Morand at this point assumes that the abbey still stands in November 1798; he implies his visit was the October prior.

In 1798, there were no abbeys – not anywhere in France. In 1789, the French Third Estate had declared itself the “Assemblée nationale constituante” and that November, it declared all Church holdings “Biens nationaux”. That is: state assets, which would back up public bonds (Assignats).

Averoigne is, in this letter, assumed a real place and not a dreamscape. (Not to spoil the plot, but this matters.)

The date 1798 is therefore impossible and wrong for this story.

Re: "The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 18 November, 2019 05:35PM
Smith's story can be fixed without too much effort. A good context would be some time during Louis XVI (1774-88); not long before the brief era of le Directoire 1798.

During Louis Seize’s doomed reign, talk of reform was as rife in France as it was in the Americas. France saw a surge of interest in the classical era, which “Enlightened” reformists mined for ideas for the present. Even the Church had its reformists. Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès was one such priest, who commanded the title “abbot (abbé)” although unlike our Hilaire I do not think Emmanuel headed a physical abbey.

Abbé Hilaire in Périgon seems more pious than Abbé Emmanuel ever was. And he doesn’t talk politics. Still, Hilaire takes pride in his abbey’s vast collection of profane literature and is clear to disassociate his lenient order from others (like Cistercians). These are well within the concerns of a liberal cleric of the 1770s and 1780s.

Propose that Smith’s date in 1798 reflects the paper’s rediscovery and filing, and not the date of writing, more likely 1778.

Re: "The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: olegrand (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2019 07:51AM
Another possibility would be to consider that "Averoigne" is actually located in a parallel, alternative France, where history has taken a slightly different course. After all, the name of the region itself is imaginary...

Re: "The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2019 10:54AM
It would perhaps have been better if CAS had chosen a different date, or if he had made references, for the sake of versimilitude, to the upheavals of that decade. That he did not may suggest that he picked a date more-or-less at random.

But I think the OP overstates his case. France is a big place, and national assemblies are small places. The edicts of national assemblies are not self-executing, especially in sleepy, remote and out-of-the-way rural areas. By 1798 there was already significant backlash against radical efforts at de-Christianization in some quarters.

Averoigne seems to be the kind of place that time passes by. And if we are to allow for a fictional French province, I don't know why would blink at the idea that certain monasteries in that province managed to escape state attention. Especially when we are talking a monastery in the middle of a haunted forest that borders no traveled path. What possible use would the State have for such a building, that seizing it would be a priority? If a building is potentially valuable, and if one has no immediate use for it, does it really make sense to kick out the people who are taking good care of it? (I am aware, of course, that the State policies often did have precisely this destructive effect).

I do not know whether any monasteries escaped State attention elsewhere in France. Maybe they did not, but if so, this would require more proof than merely that some edict said so. But even if they escaped attention no-where else, I am happy to conclude that some managed to escape in the fictional province of Averoigne.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 19 Nov 19 | 11:42AM by Platypus.

Re: "The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2019 11:40AM
Clicking around, I found a reference to Soleimont Abbey, the home of community of nuns. The nuns were not expelled until 1796, notwithstanding the edict 7 years earlier. However, a benefactor gave them a chateau for their use, so they continued to operate as a monastic community. Six years later, in 1802, Soleimont Abbey was restored to them.

Re: "The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2019 01:07PM
zimriel Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Abbé Hilaire in Périgon seems more pious than
> Abbé Emmanuel ever was. And he doesn’t talk
> politics. Still, Hilaire takes pride in his
> abbey’s vast collection of profane literature
> and is clear to disassociate his lenient order
> from others (like Cistercians). These are well
> within the concerns of a liberal cleric of the
> 1770s and 1780s.

Father Hilaire's attitudes might also be consistent with those of a "juring" clergyman, who has taken an oath of allegiance to the Revolutionary state, in defiance of the commands of the Pope, thereby obtaining a measure of forbearance. It may also help that his habits and doctrines are not particularly monastic.

Still, if he had boasted of his wondrous collection to agents of the Revolutionary Government, they would probably have been quick to seize them and hold an auction.

Re: "The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2019 01:33PM
I just solved your mystery.

The original publication, in WEIRD TALES, May, 1930, says "... in November, 1789."

Quite a few modern print editions also have the correct date.

Looks like, at some point, the last 2 digits got transposed by accident.

The chosen date is probably intentionally ironic. Perhaps Abbe Hillaire's wonderful collection (containing items that do not survive today) is about to be destroyed.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Nov 19 | 01:50PM by Platypus.

Re: "The End of The Story" is misdated
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2019 01:56PM
Excellent! And thank you Platypus. I learnt a lot here.

The abbeys in the Berry-through-to-Auvergne ... let's call it "district" ... look to have been seized 1791. I turned up Notre-Dame de Fontgombault and Notre-Dame de Bellaigue (Virlet), respectively.

Over west in the Vendée (infamously) the process was longer and bloodier. I don't know which sort of place Averoigne would be, as far as the relations between the Benedictine sites and the commons.

I brought it up because there are two short-stories in The Averoigne Legacy, "Fell Fete" and "Honeymoon in Averoigne", both set in the modern era. The former assumes Périgon is still going strong (based on the "1798" date?) and the latter, that it is a ruin.

If the year is corrected to 1789, the visit occurred in October barely weeks before the Biens nationaux edict. I expect poor Hilaire was a candidate for the national tonsure not long after.



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