A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Shipwrecks of Time

The setting of Part I of The Shipwrecks of Time,  as many of you know, is Milwaukee WI in Aug 1965-Aug 1967.  I am now up to the period of May 1966.  There was on Marquette University a weekly mass at the Joan of Arc chapel on Wednesday eve. which was much favored by former nuns and priests.  Since one of the characters in the novel is a former nun, I figured to set a scene here, perhaps as a prelim for something later at St. Barnabas and the demos at Judge Cannon's house.  Lo, and behold...

The chapel was a 15th century building between Vienne and Lyons in the Rhone Valley that had fallen into ruins after the depredations of the rationalist French Revolution, and was subsequently dismantled and shipped to an estate on Long Island, whence it was donated to the University by a later owner.  Originally the Chapelle de St. Martin de Sayssuel, it contains a tombstone for the Chevalier de Sautereau, a former Chatelain of Chasse, who was "Compagnon d'Armes" of Bayard (1473-1524), the famous French knight "sans peur et sans reproche."  It was renamed for Joan of Arc because it now incorporates a stone that once bore a statue of Mary before which St. Joan prayed and which she kissed afterward.  The story is that this stone is always colder than all the other stones around it. 

In any case, I discovered that when I wanted to set a scene there at the Wed. mass, that May 26 1966 was when the chapel was dedicated.  A most fortuitous timing and quite coincidental. 

However, in checking up on it -- they wore medieval garb at the dedication.  How kool is that? -- I learned something fortuitous and utterly unrelated.  The Marquette library contains the original manuscripts and proofs for The Hobbit, Farmer Giles of Ham, and The Lord of the Rings (annotated in Tolkein's hand with notes, corrections, Elvish, sketches, etc.) as well as other Tolkein materials, acquired by a librarian-fan well before JRRT became a cult favorite.  (Tolkein's personal and academic papers, as well as his other literary manuscripts -- e.g. The Silmarillion and Leaf by Niggle -- are at the Bodleian of Oxford University.)  I had no idea of this during my sojourn there, which was in the graduate school in the early 70s, so I never went to look at them. 

Don't ya luv it when you start looking up one thing and learn a bunch of other stuff beside? 

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea of this during my sojourn there, which was in the graduate school in the early 70s, so I never went to look at them.
    I think they were pretty well hidden away until just a few years ago. In probably 2007ish, a bunch of the manuscripts were put under glass for display in the library lobby.


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