Paris, Malaucène

Went to the Bibliothèque Nationale yesterday to see an exhibit of rare books, including some of Apollinaire's handwritten revisions of the first or second proof of 'Le poète assasiné.' And Mallarmé's extensive revisions on proof of 'Le coup de dès,' Proust's dedication of the first edition of "La Recherche' to a friend with whom he was less and less on good terms ("Chère Madame..."), a copy of a book Picasso illustrated and that he gave to Dora Maar, whom he portrayed as a harpie. Looking at the revisions of manuscripts and manuscript proof made me feel how improvised everything is, how open to change, how imperfect in its author's mind as it goes to press. Afterthoughts, afterthoughts, and then they come down to us as if engraved in marble.

 Photo by François Brahic

Photo by François Brahic

The picture on the right was taken in the village of Malaucène, at the foot of the Mont Ventoux. It was Christmas Eve, about 6:30 pm, according to the clock up top, by the moon. Shops were closing. We'd stopped off after a hike on one of the Mont Ventoux trails (the GR4) to buy some last-minute gifts in a little bookstore, and some eau de lavande at the pharmacy.

Malaucène is one of the places cyclists begin or end their ascent of the Mont Ventoux, and it is also where Petrarch set off on his "Ascent of the Mont Ventoux" in (I think) 1336. The pharmacy is behind us in the photograph beside a mossy fountain, a butcher shop and a bike store; the bookstore is beyond the lit archway (the sign points to to it) in one of the narrow streets. Also behind us, on the main street, a supermarket, where we buy groceries.