Reasoned chronology and documentation
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“I know that I know nothing. These words of Socrates perfectly sum up the impression felt after years of research on the Beast of Gévaudan, materialized by this book.
Why did I come to care about the Beast? I really couldn't say. Oh, I can find some elements that explain how: a file in the magazine "Okapi" when I was a child; my big disappointment coming out of the “Pact of the Wolves,” which pushed me to find out what could have really happened; the request of an American friend who asked me to tell her a French "legend".
But why? What ultimately can push anyone to invest time and energy in a news item, ultimately unremarkable in view of the many cases of "beasts" in the history of France, some of which have lasted longer or have more than victims?
Of course, there is the mystery. Several hundred people attacked, dozens of deaths, without anyone ever being able to find out why or how. The unknown provokes the desire for investigation, the need to find a rational explanation. Mystery is a challenge, and man likes to measure up to the challenge.
The unknown is scary. The Beast is all the more terrifying as it remains mysterious. To attempt to identify it, to define it, to put a name to its threat, is to reduce it to a measurable, controllable phenomenon. No doubt there remains in me a terrified child; it is he who hurries through the streets at night when the noises are threatening in the dark and I know, against all reason, that monsters are prowling around me. In tracking the Beast, I reverse the roles; by identifying it, I tame it.
There is the duty of memory. We can no longer do much for the unfortunate victims, killed, devoured, marked in their flesh and in their soul, except not to forget them. Whoever was responsible for the attacks has eluded us. Even the carcasses of animals identified as "the Beast" have disappeared, leaving us without answers, without certainties, without proof. There can be neither judgment nor reparation. But we can remember, we can try to understand what contemporaries could not understand, and thus do them what little justice it is in our power to dispense.
There is, of course, the fact that of all the Beasts, that of Gévaudan, widely publicized at the time of the events, is the most famous. Sacred queen among assassins, her black prestige outweighs that of other deadlier monsters. It is also the one on which we have the most documents, the one whose track, although 240 years old, remains the least difficult to follow.
Finally, the wraith of the Beast still haunts Gévaudan. The scenes of his crimes are still visible. Everywhere his representations lie in wait for the traveller, in ambush on his way. The families always bear the same names; the descendants, some of whom we can meet, passed on the memory, when other Beasts were forgotten.
I strongly advise you to read this entire "report" which is very informative.
It is made up of four documents (in French).
- Reasoned chronology and documentation
- Itinerarys of the Beast.
- An index.
You can view these documents online or download them for free by clicking on the icons below