Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Chantelouve’s house. Residence on the rue de Bagneaux of a Roman Catholic historian who supplies Durtal with information–and whose wife, Hyacinthe, becomes Durtal’s mistress and guide to the occult underworld of Paris. Chantelouve hosts regular “salons” in his drawing room, where disputatious visitors gather to discuss theological matters and the debased state of contemporary society. The house also has a well-stocked library, where more confidential discussions take place.
*Church of Saint-Sulpice (sah[n]-sewl-pees). One of the most famous churches in Paris, built by King Louis XIV. The church became notorious during Huysmans’s time for the nearby street-market whose tradesmen specialized in cheap, sordid devotional artifacts (which became known as “Saint-Sulpiceries” in consequence). The lofty situation of Louis Carhaix’s bell tower places it, symbolically speaking, in clean air, remote from the streets whose literal pollution reflects a deep-seated moral pollution. Below the belfry is a room used now as storage space for obsolete statuary, because it was misused as a rendezvous in the days when it accommodated a swing. In the apartment in the gallery below the church’s towers, Madame Carhaix serves wholesome food, ministering to Durtal’s body while her husband assists his spirit.
Château de Tiffauges (shah-TOH deh tif-ohj). Castle in Brittany that was the inordinately luxurious residence of Gilles de Rais, the marshal of France and associate of Joan of Arc who became the subject of a sensational early fifteenth century sorcery trial. When Durtal visits the château in Huysmans’s novel, he finds it deserted, stripped of every vestige of its former finery. Its walls are overgrown by ivy and viburnum, but are still intact. Its great halls, walled in granite, with arch-vaulted roofs, are cold and gloomy. They are linked by narrow, twisting corridors whose spiral staircases ascend and descend into mazes of smaller rooms. Following the method of the historian Jules Michelet, Durtal populates it again in his imagination and tries to put himself in the shoes of its medieval lord. It is while doing so that he begins his secret liaison with Madame Chantelouve–a meeting that re-emphasizes the symbolic parallel between the alleged corruption of Gilles de Rais and the moral and spiritual predicament of contemporary Paris.
Chapel. Last remnant of a long-suppressed convent of Ursuline nuns. Its exact situation is unspecified, but it must be somewhere on Paris’s Left Bank, since Durtal and Madame Chantelouve’s route takes them along the rue Vaugirard, a thoroughfare that branches from one of the quarter’s two main roads, the boulevard St. Michel, angling away from the other, the Boulevard St. Germain. Here Durtal witnesses a supposed black mass celebrated by Canon Docre, although his conclusion that it is a mediocre and silly sham is far more reliable than the judgment of legions of credulous readers who have taken it as solid evidence that black masses really were being celebrated in late nineteenth century Paris.