Places: The Dark Journey

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Leviathan, 1929 (English translation, 1929)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Psychological realism

Time of work: Early twentieth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedChanteilles

Chanteilles Dark Journey, The (shahn-TAY) and Lorges (lorzh). Neighboring French provincial towns within relatively easy access to Paris by train. The towns are framed on both sides by rivers, portentously named the Sommeillante (sleepy) and the Preste (quick). Much of the novel’s action takes place on or near bridges that cross the rivers, where Paul Guéret waits for the young laundress Angèle. Guéret has moved to Chanteilles with his wife, Marie, in a futile search for a better life than the one they left behind in Paris. His marriage remains loveless, and the only job that he has found is that of tutor to the slow-witted only son of the wealthy Grosgeorge family.

Restaurant Londe

Restaurant Londe (lohnd). Restaurant that is an important Lorges landmark, owned and managed by the imperious Madame Georges Londe, who maintains and relishes a jealous hold on her exclusively male clientele. Guéret stumbles into the restaurant more or less by accident, instantly arousing the insatiable curiosity of the proprietress, who has never seen him before. Determined to snare Guéret in the same net that holds her other customers, Madame Londe refuses to accept payment for his meal, insisting instead that he open an account by signing his name. Thus armed, Madame Londe also ensures that the newcomer will return because he is now in her debt.

From an elevated perch, Madame Londe presides over her establishment with the demeanor of a stern and scolding teacher, occasionally revealing secret knowledge of a customer’s recent purchases, business dealings, or family life. The main source of her information is young Angèle, a nonpaying boarder, who is possibly her niece, whom she regularly sends out on assignations with customers for the sole purpose of collecting gossip to keep them under her control. She does not know, or care, what Angèle has to do to gather the information that she covets; that, Madame Londe self-righteously assures herself, is none of her business.

Villa Mon Idée

Villa Mon Idée (vee-YAH moh-neh-dee). Large, pretentious home of the Grosgeorge family, where Guéret regularly meets with his pupil, the couple’s only child. Eva Grosgeorge, resentful of her older husband and harboring bitterness that is never fully explained, turns her resentment toward Guéret when her son André seemingly fails to respond to Guéret’s teaching. Her husband, in turn, shares his own marital and sexual problems with Guéret, inadvertently revealing himself to be one of Angèle’s “regulars” and precipitating the crisis that will result in Guéret’s beating of Angèle and, later, his murder of an elderly homeless man who stumbles upon his hiding place.

After several weeks at large, Guéret will return to the Chanteilles area, only to be spotted by Angèle and, soon thereafter, by the crafty Eva Grosgeorge, who first offers him shelter at Mon Idée, then hatches a scheme to turn him over to the police while he remains a virtual prisoner in Madame Grosgeorge’s upstairs sitting room. The name Villa Mon Idée literally means “my idea.”


*Paris. Capital of France, where Guéret and his wife formerly lived and worked. Marie Guéret, still employed as a seamstress by a Paris department store, still makes weekly trips to the capital in order to deliver her finished orders. Guéret himself may well have spent some of his time there while hiding out from the authorities and changing his appearance by growing a beard.

BibliographyBurne, Glenn S. Julian Green. New York: Twayne, 1972. Provides a comprehensive overview of the first forty-five years of Green’s career, culminating in his induction into the Académie Française in 1971. Provides a good interpretation of The Dark Journey.Dunaway, John M. The Metamorphosis of the Self: The Mystic, the Sensualist, and the Artist in the Works of Julien Green. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1978. Revised from a doctoral dissertation, Dunaway’s study traces the sources and evolution of Green’s narrative art. It deals only in passing with The Dark Journey, relating it to the prevalence of violence in Green’s early fiction.Peyre, Henri. French Novelists of Today. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Provides a good overview of Green’s career, presenting him as standing outside both the French and the American traditions from which his work derives. Includes useful readings of Green’s early and midcareer fiction.Stokes, Samuel. Julian Green and the Thorn of Puritanism. New York: King’s Crown Press, 1955. Stokes’s volume, like Dunaway’s, is a revised doctoral dissertation and the first full-length study of Green in English. It is still useful for the analysis of Green’s religious evolution as reflected in his novels.
Categories: Places