Moulinsart Redux

“These heavy walls to me had grown”

The mysteries of being a child, of living and thinking with a child’s mind, made me certain of the boundaries of reality. A toy was never to be thrown away or left to die outside and the books I read at night were far more real than the cold 6am bus ride to school.

For many years when I was younger I lived in Moulinsart.

I am almost sure I lived there.

How can I remember it so well if I didn’t?

“To tear me from a second home”

I countlessly walked the same wide brown path up to the main door, a forest to my left, a forest to my right, up to the rigorously symmetrical house with the exact proportions a house should have. I am sure that on the list of platonic solids, right after “Cube”, you will find “Chateau de Moulinsart”. With the demanding criteria that Plato liked to apply to his solids, only Moulinsart had a chance in hell of making the list.

I was sure to someday inherit this property which I already thought mine, one day be Nestor’s young master and stroll down the unrepaired stairs wearing golfing trousers.

I’ve collected other memories since, mixed them up with these older ones, making them only more potent in the involuntary way they rush up to my head.

Apparently Hergé had two models for Captain Haddock’s family manor: the “Chateau de Cheverny” donated its central section for Moulinsart’s exterior proportions and the dungeons at the “Chateau de Chillon” close to Lausanne, Switzerland, were the model for the basement where Tintin is locked up in “Le Secret de la Licorne”.

Bonivard’s Prison at the Chateau de Chillon

Tintin escaping from Moulinsart’s dungeons

These are the same dungeons that inspired Lord Byron to write his ode “The Prisoner of Chillon”.

If by now I have any stamina left to work through a design, chipping and chiseling an informal block of bad ideas, it’s because I am still hopeful to someday find in the midst of my debris some sort of a Moulinsart.

So when in a couple of years you pass by an isolated building with a unsettling proportion, halfway between a doll house and a palace, not really sure which one it references more, you’ll know who thought it and you’ll know why.

“My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are: – even I
Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.”

P.S. – Even though I read most of Hergé’s strips in my native Potuguese, I wrote this post using the original French names for characters and places, which are closer. The English “Marlinspike Hall” evokes absolutely nothing to me. Here are the other names my own little castle has gone by (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Arabic: Mulan

Bengali: মার্লিনস্পাইক (Marlinspike)

Catalan: Molins de dalt

Chinese: 马林斯派克(Marlinspike) or 穆蘭薩城堡(Moulinsart)

Danish: Møllenborg Slot (literally: Millburg Castle)

Dutch: Kasteel Molensloot

Finnish: Moulinsartin linna

French: Château de Moulinsart (original)

German: Schloss Mühlenhof (literally: Millfarm Castle)

Icelandic: Myllusetur

Italian: Castello di Moulinsart

Persian: کاخ مولنسار (Ka’kh-e-Moulansar)

Polish: Księżymłyn

Portuguese: Castelo de Moulinsart

Russian: Замок Муленсар

Spanish: Castillo de Moulinsart, Castillo del Molino, Mansión Pasador

Swedish: Moulinsarts slott

Turkish: Mulensar Şatosu


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