Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Visiting Great St. Bernard Hospice With Little Dorrit

Starting the second part of Little Dorrit, Dickens brought us mountain-biking to the Alps of Switzerland. The “Fellow-Travelers”—as the first chapter title—stopped by the famous Great St. Bernard Monastery and Hospice. And to help myself following the vivid descriptions presented by Dickens (he actually visited the place on September 1846), I have gathered these…. enjoy!

"In the autumn of the year Darkness and Night were creeping up to the highest ridges of the Alps. It was vintage-time in the valleys on the Swiss side of the Pass of the Great Saint Bernard, and along the banks of the Lake Geneva." ~p. 409


"The air had been warm and transparent through the whole of the bright day. Shining metal spires and church roofs, distant and rarely seen, had sparkled in the view; and the snowy mountain-tops had been so clear... (...) Mountain peaks of great celebrity on the valleys, whence no trace of their existence was visible sometimes for months together, had been since morning plain and near in the blue sky." ~p.409


"Up here in the clouds, everything was seen through cloud, and seemed dissolving into cloud. The breath of the men was cloud, the breath of the mules was cloud, the lights were encircled by cloud, speakers close at hand were not seen for cloud, though their voices and all other sounds were surprisingly clear." ~p. 411


"There were gloomy vaulted sleeping-rooms within, intensely cold, but clean and hospitably prepared for guests." ~p.411


"Finally there was a parlour for guests to sit in and to sup in, where a table was already laid, and where a blazing fire shone red and high." ~p. 11


"Prey, has your convent many of its famous dogs now? ...I saw three in the gallery below.... And I think I have seen one of them before. | He was a dog sufficiently well known. Monsieur might have easily seen him in the valley, or somewhere on the lake, when the dog had gone down with one of the order to solicit aid for the convent." ~p. 417


Of course it would be slightly or much different on the 19th century when Dickens visited the monastery, but at least I could imagine a bit of it. Thanks you Mr. Dickens for slipping little entertainment here in the middle of this (quite) tedious reading...

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