An Adventure.London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1911 Stock Code: 145924
First edition, first impression, and extremely uncommon thus; an unexpected sensation the book ran to four impression in three months, the first print run notably small. Published anonymously the identities of the authors of this controversial work, perhaps the most famous "time slip" case in the literature, were not made public until 1931.
In August 1901 the Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford, Charlotte "Annie" Moberly (1846-1937), went on holiday to Paris, accompanied by Eleanor Jourdain (1863-1924) who was about to take up the position of Vice Principal, with the intention of cementing their personal and working relationship. On 10 August the two women visited Versailles and while there experienced unexplained symptoms and met a host of strange characters, leading the two women to later see the trip as one not to their contemporary Versailles, but to a Versailles just prior to the execution of Marie Antoinette.
The two women became lost while crossing the palace's gardens to visit the Petit Trianon, a farmhouse where Marie Antoinette played at being a milkmaid. As they ventured further both became overcome by a strong sense of depression, although neither admitted this to the other until days later. They kept going despite their discomfort until one of the passersby they asked for directions (all of whom they noted were in historical dress) implored them to turn back - upon doing so they found themselves surrounded once more by modern-day tourists.
Neither woman spoke of their afternoon at Versailles for a week, until Moberly asked Jourdain if she believed the Petit Trianon to be haunted, which Jourdain confirmed she did. It was not until back in Oxford in November that the two women talked through the events at length, at which point they decided to write out their own accounts of that afternoon, in order to better compare them. This began their process of intense and meticulous research into the grounds and history of Versailles which included two further trips to the palace, during which they identified all of those they had seen with members of the court or staff of 1792.
The work prompted intense scrutiny upon publication and was investigated in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Outside of the journal many key researchers gave their opinion upon the events in question, and it has become a long-lasting point of paranormal discussion. Several attempts have been made to debunk the women's story, with many pointing to inconsistencies between published editions, and others posing explicitly homophobic arguments claiming that the two women were in a sapphic daze or hysteria caused by their alleged romantic feelings for one another. One of the most popular modern explanations for the events was put forward in 1965 by Philippe Jullian in his biography of the aristocratic decadent French poet Robert de Montesquiou, who lived nearby the grounds of Versailles. Montesquiou was renowned at the time for hosting large and raucous costume parties, often featuring tableaux vivants, or living pictures - it was Jullian's suggestion that the two women had entered one such party.
Octavo. Original blue cloth, title in gilt to the spine, fleur de lys device in gilt to the front board.
Spine toned, small splash mark to the front board, overall a bright copy in very good condition.
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