Racine de Monville Home Page News Log

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This news log documents timely information about the Désert de Retz and topics related to the subject matter of this website for 2015 through 2018. In addition, there are updates and news about this website.

Consult the Racine de Monville Home Page News Log Archive for entries dating from 1999 through 2014.

Please report to the webmaster any information about the Désert de Retz or Monsieur de Monville such as links to articles in the media or online or blog entries in any language that you think pertinent and would like to see posted on this news log. Email: Ronald W. Kenyon


January 6, 2018. According to Flagcounter.com, the Racine de Monville Home Page has been accessed by residents of 121 countries since April 6, 2011.


November 22, 2017. Fake Memoirs of Monsieur de Monville Published

Creative Media Partners on behalf of Gale Research, Inc. issued in July 2017 a facsimile of a book originally published in 1760 entitled Mémoires de Monsieur de Monville.

Although no author’s name appears on the title page, the publishers have rendered a great disservice by inserting the name of François Nicolas Henri Racine de Monville on the cover of this book, as its author. Having read this book cover-to-cover, I can attest that nothing in this book pertains in any way to the man who built the Désert de Retz in Chambourcy.

I wrote in my biography of Monville: “The man we generally refer to today as Monsieur de Monville went by a number of names during his lifetime. At birth, he was christened François Nicolas Henri Racine de Jonquoy. At his marriage on September 30, 1755, his maternal grandfather bestowed on him the Château du Thuit, near Les Andelys, in Normandy, and he replaced “de Jonquoy” with “du Thuit.” It was not until the death of his maternal grandfather on July 6, 1761, that he inherited the barony of Monville, and thereafter became known as the Baron de Monville or Monsieur de Monville.”

Since he did not acquire this title until 1761, the year after this book was published, it is impossible for him to have been its author.

Furthermore, the book is titled “Mémoires,” but is nothing of the sort. It is, instead a romantic fiction, written by an anonymous author, set in Provence, Italy and Paris.

Plot Summary: The protagonist, Monville, a young man from a wealthy and distinguished family in Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast of France, seduces and impregnates thirteen-year old Finette, the innocent niece of his tutor, then abandons Finette and his newborn son when he succumbs to the charms of an Italian seductress, Felicia, whom he marries after having murdered her husband, Fabricio. Finette is packed off to Paris by Monville’s parents to live with Monville’s maternal aunt, the Contesse de L., and Monville decamps to Venice with Felicia, who shortly betrays him by engaging in a torrid affair with the Marquis de Salvador. Monville, furious with jealousy, murders Felicia, and her paramour commits suicide.

Monville then decides to relocate Paris to find Finette, but his search proves fruitless. Inadvertently, however, he befriends the Marquis de C., who saves him from a pair of cutthroats who intend to waylay and murder him to recover the money he owes some dishonest gamblers and swindlers. Monville soon learns that the Marquis de C. is Finette’s husband and the father of her children. Thus it is impossible for him to recover his first love. But, the anonymous author writes, “As they had the same tastes and the same inclinations, and since they were both born tender, sensitive and delicate, a bond was formed between them closer the bond that had united Orestes and Pylades.” According to the Greek writer Lucian (c 125-180 AD), Orestes and Pylades are presented as the principal representatives of homoerotic friendship.In the denouement, Finette sickens and dies. After Monville and the Marquis lose the one woman they both have loved, the only true friendship becomes that between the two of them.

February 16, 2017. American artist Melissa Hogan chose Monsieur de Monville's Column House for her painting, Old Winter, Desert de Retz, France. Acrylic on canvas, 8 inches by 10 inches. Signed on the front. It's for sale at ArtFinder.com.


November 25, 2016. Although Monsieur de Monville died without progeny, descendants of his elder sister Marie-Henriette Racine de Jonquoy (1730-1791) are living today. Consult her family tree.
French flag François Racine de Monville ayant décédé sans issue, ses héritiers étaient les quatre descendants de sa sœur. Consulter la généalogie dressée par Jean-Louis Saury (1933-2012), mise à jour par Ronald W. Kenyon.

November 15, 2016. Secrets d'Histoire - La Du Barry : coup de foudre à Versailles. In this lavishly produced docu-drama, host Stéphane Bern takes the viewer on an hour-fifty-minute journey into the life of Madame du Barry, whom Monsieur de Monville met when she was a shopgirl working in a Paris millinery owned by the parents of the renowned portraitist Adélaïde Labille-Guiard. Narrative and commentaries by historians and others are complemented by reinactments of scenes from Madame du Barry's turbulent life: from poverty-stricken peasant to Paris prostitute to royal mistress to execution on the guillotine on December 8, 1793. The friendship between Madame du Barry, whose château at Louveciennes was not far from the Désert de Retz, and Monsieur de Monville remained steadfast throughout their lives. One sequence was filmed at the Désert de Retz on June 7, 2016. In French.

November 11, 2016. The Racine de Monville Home Page celebrates its 20th aniversary! What started out as a single page on the now-defunct GeoCities web hosting service in 1996 has become the internet's most comprehensive source for information about the Désert de Retz and François Racine de Monville. The documentation on this site's Archive page dates as far back as June 4, 1999. Extensive research for this website resulted in the publication of the first biography exclusively devoted to Monsieur de Monville in English in 2013. The French version appeared in 2015.

September 29, 2016. American artist Melissa Hogan chose Monsieur de Monville's Column House for her painting, Early Morning at the Desert de Retz. Acrylic on canvas, acrylic gel glaze, 20 inches by 16 inches. Signed on the front. It's for sale at ArtFinder.com.

March 31, 2016. The town of Chambourcy acquired for €26,250 two exceptional 18th century tondi depicting unique views of the Désert de Retz, both illustrated in color on page 173 of the catalogue, Tableaux et Dessins Anciens et du XIXe Siècle. Each is round, 30 cm [11.1"] in diameter, and painted in oils on copper. The first depicts the Column House, the entrance to the tunnel and the Picturesque Bridge leading to the commons. The second shows the Chinese House and a rowboat resembling a gondola sailing on the lake. Each includes visitors and their playful dogs. These were possibly part of Monville's estate as inventoried after his death. View enlargements here.


September 18, 2015. Passagers secrets, l'héritière du médaillon, a 17-minute movie in French by Léo Brachet filmed entirely on location at the Desert de Retz, was premiered in the Salle Hubert-Yencesse in Chambourcy.

June 10, 2015 A two-volume edition of La Nouvelle Clarice by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711-1780), belonging to the library of François Racine de Monville, was sold at auction in Paris. The work is modeled on the epistolary novel Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady, by Samuel Richardson, published in 1748. This edition, in duodecimo, bound in red morocco leather with a supralibros "Racine Demonville" in gold letters on each cover, was published in 1767. Leprince lived in both France and England and published prolifically. Her most famous work is her version of Beauty and the Beast, published in 1756.

May 26, 2015. The French daily Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui en France, the most-read daily newspaper in France with a readership of over 18 million combining print, web and mobile editions, published in its issue of May 26, 2015, an article entitled Chambourcy: le créateur du Désert de Retz a sa biographie by correspondent Sébastien Birden. The article, illustrated with a photograph of the cover, is the first announcement in the French media of the publication of Monville : l'inconnu des Lumières, the French translation of the biography of François Racine de Monville by Ronald W. Kenyon, webmaster and curator of the Racine de Monville Home Page.

April 2, 2015. At an auction conducted at Drouot in Paris, the town of Chambourcy acquired for the sum of 1,300 Euros a manuscript collection of songs written by "Monsieur de La Borde" that was part of the library of François Racine de Monville.
Jean-Benjamin de la Borde

A prolific composer, Jean-Benjamin de La Borde (1734-1794) was the same age as Monsieur de Monville and the two were close friends in their youth. La Borde's mistress was the celebrated dancer Marie-Madeleine Guimard. Monsieur de Monville was a witness at the daughter's wedding to a goldsmith named Roert Arnould Claude Drais. The unfortunate bride died a year later. As a tax farmer, La Borde was considered "an enemy of France" and incarcerated with Monsieur de Monville in the Hôtel Talaru. Jean-Benjamin de La Borde perished on the guillotine on July 22, 1794, barely a week before the end of the Reign of Terror. Monsieur de Monville outlived his lifelong friend for a few years, and La Borde's music and writings have survived to this day.

Read an extensive account in French of the life and works of Jean-Benjamin de La Borde by historian René Pichard du Page in the Revue de l'Histoire de Versailles et de Seine-et-Oise.

January 15, 2015. New York Cottages and Gardens magazine published a two-page article about the Desert de Retz by Alejandro Saralegui, Director of the Madoo Conservancy, in its December 2014-Janaury 2015 European Style Special Issue. The article includes color photographs and along with Mr. Saralegui's interview with Ronald W. Kenyon, webmaster and curator of the Racine de Monville Home Page.

January 2, 2015. Site statistics for the Racine de Monville Home Page 2005-2014. Below is a table showing the total number of pageviews and the total number of countries of the visitors to this website for the years of 2005 through 2014 as compiled by OneStat.

Year Total Pageviews Total Countries
2005 19,494 116
2006 11,232 101
2007 13,521 101
2008 15,188 108
2009 14,474 92
2010 12,716 103
2011 10,942 105
2012 9,967 105
2013 8,745 79
2014 10,587 90

Consult the Racine de Monville Home Page News Log Archive for entries dating from 1999 through 2014.


This page revised January 6, 2018.
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