The secrets of a diary written on castle floorboards
June 5, 2018 5:40 AM   Subscribe

When the new owners of the chateau of Picomtal decided to renovate the parquet in some of their upstairs rooms, they made a remarkable discovery. (SL BBC News)
posted by aqsakal (23 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is awesome!
posted by corb at 5:43 AM on June 5


Really amazing.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:52 AM on June 5


"Happy Mortal. When you read me, I shall be no more. Be wiser than I was from the ages of 15 to 25, when I lived for nothing but love and liquor, doing little and spending much. I was a fiddler."

I did none of those things but feel no wiser for it.

What a story in these...
posted by Caxton1476 at 5:52 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Oddly enough this isn't the first post here about a French floorboard inscription.
posted by misteraitch at 5:56 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I would love a translated version, but this is amazing. (Amazon, only had the French version, someone please correct me and link it if you find it translated)
posted by deezil at 5:57 AM on June 5


A French linguist friend of mine made this fairly significant correction when I sent her the story a few days ago:
I noticed one mistake in the translation: in explaining why he will not identify the culprit, one reason is that they are childhood friends, but perhaps more importantly, because of that man's mother, who is his own father's "mistress". But the word is not maîtresse but marraine 'godmother', a very important role in that rural society (godparents being expected to take some responsibility for a child, including that of replacing the parents if they were to die). That lady is also quite old, of the same generation as his father's own mother (his own grandmother), so he does not want her to be linked in any way with the scandal.
posted by languagehat at 6:12 AM on June 5 [44 favorites]


Thanks for the correction, languagehat and friend.

Is "bowing to the women" some kind of euphemism?
posted by inconstant at 6:32 AM on June 5


Boudon has a 90-minute lecture (French) about this online as well.
posted by vacapinta at 6:32 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


But the word is not maîtresse but marraine 'godmother', a very important role in that rural society
Joachim's writing looks like "maitraisse"and Boudon (who had access to the original material) does consider that it's indeed "maîtresse" (he spends a whole page about this).

"He wants to know how many times a month," he writes, adding more detail of a vulgar nature concerning different sexual positions.
Come on, BBC. Here's the text (poor translation mine): First I find it very wrong the way he sticks his nose into our family business, asking about how one fucks with one's wife. How many times a month, if one screws her, if one takes her doggy style, if one fucks her in the ass, finally I do not know how many things he asked and forbade to all the women of the neighborhood."
posted by elgilito at 6:46 AM on June 5 [24 favorites]


The question that needs to be asked is - why replace perfectly good floorboards after only 138 years? Is this a new trend?
posted by Laotic at 7:14 AM on June 5 [12 favorites]


Oh man, elgilito, you have truly brought life to the past. I would not have known that was the sense of it!

I really hope this book is translated into English. There’s a novel in here.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:15 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Kinda curious what Bourdon uses to supports matron vs mistresss? It seems odd to me that “he’s the son of my dad’s side-piece” is an accepted reason to protect someone’s reputation. Maybe just my 21st century Anglo sensibilities. Or does mistress in rural France not connotate infidelity and could be similar to a divorcee or widowers’s significant other?
posted by midmarch snowman at 7:21 AM on June 5


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posted by adept256 at 7:28 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Thank you to aqsakal for posting this and thanks so much to Joachim Martin for posting his thoughts for posterity! Perhaps he helped to lay other floors in the town and we can learn more about his world.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:06 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Or does mistress in rural France not connotate infidelity and could be similar to a divorcee or widowers’s significant other?

No, it's really mistress in the traditional sense. André-Benjamin's dad was a widower but Joachim's mom Adélaïde was still married when she became his lover circa 1869-1870 (they were roughly the same age; she had married at 15 to a man twice her age, possibly to escape her own household). Boudon's description of the situation is that this was a very tight community: all those families lived close to each other for decades and were related in some way, officially or not. Everyone knew (and heard!) what other people were up to. Joachim himself was born out of wedlock and his parents had to marry in a hurry one month before he was born. André-Benjamin and Joachim had been friends since childhood and, because of their parents' relation, they were somehow half-brothers. Also, as usual when reading this sort of historical narrative, one should keep in mind that these people were all survivors in some way, due to abysmal mortality rates (6 of Joachim's siblings died in infancy).
posted by elgilito at 8:27 AM on June 5 [9 favorites]


This was found several years ago, so there's more info online in obscure places. Found these links on Hacker News and Reddit.

A detailed writeup in French from 2014.
90 minutes of academic conference video, also in French, that vacapinta already linked.
posted by Nelson at 9:49 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Yes, it would be non-procreative forms of sex that the priest would (ostensibly) be worried about.
posted by praemunire at 10:19 AM on June 5


I am most surprised that the villagers asked for their Abbot to be replaced by a Protestant. I don’t know much about the religious landscape of 19th century France, but I would have expected to see a huge chasm between Catholic and Protestant all across the West by then.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:48 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


> Joachim's writing looks like "maitraisse"and Boudon (who had access to the original material) does consider that it's indeed "maîtresse" (he spends a whole page about this).

Thanks, I'll pass that along to my friend.
posted by languagehat at 12:07 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know if Mr. Martin's literacy was common or uncommon, for his circumstances?
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:46 PM on June 5


Iris, you mean we’re being treated to an elaborate hoax/family vengeance by the renovating proprietors of the manor house, perhaps aiming to drum up some viral fame money in the process?
posted by Laotic at 1:52 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Literacy numbers are always debatable, but I believe by the late nineteenth century France had climbed to about a ninety percent literacy rate.
posted by praemunire at 2:06 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Laotic, if only; I enjoy a good history-tinged, thoroughly fraudulent hustle.

Thanks, praemunire.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:37 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


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