An Adventure by C.A.E. Moberly and E.F. Jourdain

After this, the rest of the book (which is itself pretty short, and bulked out by the notes of others) comprises accounts of their researches afterwards – explaining how certain elements would have dated their visions precisely to 1792; how various explanations that have been proffered – such as it being a film set, or a costume party – can’t be true. The two women were wandering through the Palace of Versailles, in 1901, and got lost – whereupon they saw various figures (a woman leaning out a window; some gardeners; some officials in three-cornered hats, etc.) and various bridges and buildings and whatnot. Dunne to write a note, along with Edith Olivier. (Or, of course, you can read about it on Wikipedia instead.)
Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestEmailPrintGoogleLike this:Like Loading… What’s more surprising is that a book which makes almost no effort to be entertaining – indeed, has the tone of authors who eschew entertainment in the name of information – became such a talking point. They felt a bit oppressed and dreary – but didn’t talk about it much with each other until rather later…
Over the ensuing decade, discussing it more between themselves, talking to others, and consulting plans of Versailles at various times (three of which are fold-out maps in my edition), they came to believe that they had witnessed Marie Antoinette in the days before she was killed. Jourdain – albeit under the names Elizabeth Morison and Frances Lamont – and their trip to Versailles in 1901. This book is nothing if not earnest. How convincing would Moberly and Jourdain be at narrating what they believed to be inadvertent time travel? So, what happened? An Adventure by C.A.E. I certainly enjoyed reading it, as a historical curio – but I remain rather at a loss to understand how it became so widely popular. Which was also, apparently, a trip to 1792. Our view that we had witnessed something unusual yet in accordance with historical fact, generally unknown and quite unknown to us at the time, has been corroborated by fresh evidence. And that means that you’ll be   transfixed by the tale going around of C.A.E. I remain sceptical, I’ll admit, and I can’t imagine this book taking hold of the nation now in the way it did then. Related And I think they also believed it themselves. The account of the day is quite short – it is seen from both perspectives, and covers much the same ground. They convinced many others, and got noted time-theorist J.W. I’ve had   An Adventure on my shelves for quite a while – I first came across it because Edith Olivier wrote the introduction, and I wrote part of my DPhil on Olivier. Moberly and E.F. Moberly and E.F. Jourdain
Versailles in 1668 (Wikimedia Commons)
Imagine yourself back in 1911. As the author’s preface starts…
Many years have passed since the incidents occurred which were recorded in   An Adventure, but our interest in them has not diminished; on the contrary, it has increased. But, then again, plenty of people today watch TV shows about hauntings etc., so who knows? I got as far as reading   about the book, and reading Olivier’s introduction, and then shelves it for a few years – until recently, I was inspired to see what was in it. You keep an eye on the goings on of society. But if you’d like to find, I can recommend the intrigue of visiting a largely-forgotten corner of culture from a century ago. Both Moberly and Jourdain were intelligent, academic women – well-respected and much-liked. It reads rather like a legal case – not dry, but heaping evidence upon evidence, for the anticipated sceptic.