Sunday, April 05, 2009

Loudun, France - June 3, 2008

Quickly christened, by us, as Lousy Loudun, we had a hard day trying to get excited about this town of 9,000 in the Vienne département of the Poitou-Charentes région. Lots of work and not much juice, is how it turned out. Still, when your main claim to fame is a convent load of ravaged nuns it must make it a tough sell to the average tourist. Let me explain...In a 1952 book, written by Aldous Huxley and titled The Devils of Loudun, the author relates the story of the trial of Urbain Grandier, priest of the town, who was tortured and then burned at the stake, in 1634. Found guilty of being in league with the devil and of having seduced an entire convent of nuns, Grandier's alleged exertions are seen by many scholars as one of the most sensational cases of mass possession and sexual hysteria in recorded history. Later, Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, perhaps in unseemly excitement at the revelations, created the opera Die Teufel von Loudun, based on the Huxley book. Imagine, an opera wherein a superfluity of nuns are ravished by the town priest - a must-see piece of theater! Check here for more pictures - no nuns, guaranteed.

No comments: