Unlike most of his contemporaries who studied, lived, and worked in Paris (the cultural hub of France), Julien Gracq chose to return to his childhood home of Saint-Florent-Le-Vieil after his time in Paris. Laura wanted to research the influences of this prominent 20th century French surrealist author.
Saint Florent is a small town located deep in the Loire Valley, where the Èvre tributary meets with the Loire River. This region of France is one of the most historically Catholic and conservative areas of the country. I found the contrast between his surroundings and his writing style interesting, as other French surrealist authors at the time were working in Paris, a hub of surrealism centered around figures such as André Breton and Picasso.
I discovered Julien Gracq when I was abroad last semester, but at that time, I never had the chance to research him in depth, or really visit the places that influenced his writings the most. I specifically looked into his novel The Narrow Waters which is set in Saint Florent and the Marillais region where I visited. Additionally, I wanted to return to return to France to maintain the language competency I gained while abroad. I was also interested in exploring this project as an avenue to pursue for my European Studies capstone project.