Jonathan Van Belle – Château de Saint-Jory

He sat there feeling self-pity, for his aging, for a body he thought undesirable, for a mind he thought weakening, for his mediocrity, his unsociability, his poverty. He had fitted the living room to this mood; the blinds were shut.
“Do you know what happens next?” He wrote to himself. “You should write.”
So he wrote a short story about a made-up castle, Minally Castle, whose owner, Lord Merrick von Baum, lived alone in shabby Minally. He wrote the story of Lord von Baum’s personal journals, which brimmed with their own fictional stories of persons in remote places. Lord von Baum’s journals included the story of solitary Blaise Tremblay, who lived alone in the doomed and derelict castle Château de Saint-Jory.
Lord von Baum’s story of Tremblay and the Château de Saint-Jory began with the sentence: “Blaise first noticed that his château was in the process of shrinking, and he with it, only after noticing the abnormal largeness of the weeds he saw from his favorite oriel window.” Tremblay did nothing. He did not leave his Saint-Jory. He swung from fear to self-aversion to bitterness and back. “After two weeks,” von Baum wrote, “Saint-Jory shared the dimensions of a horse-drawn wagon and its owner the dimensions of a wood mouse.”
As the Château de Saint-Jory passed under the threshold of the naked eye’s sight, disappearing like a flea into the interstices of the soil, Blaise Tremblay “took up a pen and penned a sort of letter, one he knew none could ever read.” Lord Merrick gave only “the middle part” of Tremblay’s letter:

I remember a story told to me by my grandfather, who had heard it from his mother, who perhaps invented it or had it related to her from a now unknown source. Grandfather told me about a man who had lived alone from young adulthood to old age and death in a cave in the Forest of Retz. The cave was called ‘The Cave of the Devil,’ though I do not know the reason. Grandfather said that the man, the hermit, had committed to this abominable deprivation and social abstinence on account of his having once crushed a bluish-white moth beneath his shoe and feeling, years after the incident, a monstrously visceral identification with the insect.

Lord Merrick says that, past this point in Tremblay’s letter, Tremblay “became bilious” and “the long letter then descended into violent, bizarre, pornographic jokes that none would estimate funny, only wretched and pitiable.” The lonely owner of Minally Castle finally writes of the Château de Saint-Jory and its owner that they “joined the infinitesimals in hell.”


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