The story opens in media res, or in the middle of things. Doctor Bianchon is conceding to the other dinner guests’ requests that he tell one of the ‘‘appalling stories in [his] collection.’’ Noting that the audience had been primed by a previous story, and that the late hour of 2:00 a.m. seemed ideal, the ‘‘obliging doctor bowed and silence reigned.’’ The dinner guests then disappear from the story until the final sentences, and Doctor Bianchon tells the story in which he features as much as a listener as a narrator and lets three other storytellers relate the story of ‘‘La Grande Bretèche’’ to his listeners.
Setting the scene, Bianchon describes a dramatically ruined estate just on the outskirts of the town of Vendome, where he was staying to care for a rich patient. Revealing his sensitive, even poetic, nature the doctor reveals that he is so drawn to the ‘‘unwritten poetry’’ and ‘‘unrevealed thought’’ of the ruins that he frequently broke in and sat in the garden where he ‘‘wove delightful romances, and abandoned myself to little debauches of melancholy which enchanted me.’’ These romantic reveries are called to a halt, however, when he is visited in his rooms one evening by a mysterious stranger, who introduces himself as Monsieur Regnault.
Regnault is a lawyer, the local notary, whose job is to inform Bianchon that he may longer trespass on the grounds of la Grande...
(The entire section is 848 words.)
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