1612. France is only starting to recover from the wars of religion. Young René Descartes, who is then studying in Rennes, attends a party in a castle near Brest. There, his presence changes the destiny of three people: Tucdual Cadiou, a Jesuit priest, young baroness Marie de Kerlech with whom Descartes starts a secret affair, and a small, precocious beggar boy: Gilbert Le Person. A few years later, still fascinated by Descartes, Gilbert leaves his native village of Porspoder and goes to Paris – the then capital of sciences and new philosophy. Included in the exclusive circle of the place Royale, he makes the acquaintance of Blaise Pascal whose sister Jacqueline is, unhappily, a disciple of the rival movement of Port Royal.
Controversy rages about the world system, the existence of void or light. While philosophers debate, religious fanatics operate in the shadow, ready to do anything to silence them. Gilbert Le Person has no choice but to confront them so that the rights of love, science and philosophy are upheld.
Vincent Jullien recounts, through a series of picaresque adventures and love stories, the everlasting war between reason and obscurantism, between science and philosophy and religion.
Vincent Jullien, lectures in history and philosophy of sciences at the university of Nantes, and he is the president of the “Société française d’histoire des sciences et des techniques”. He has recently published Les éléments de géométrie de G. P. de Roberval (Vrin, 1996), Descartes, la géométrie de 1637 (PUF, 1996), Sciences agents doubles (Stock, 2002) and Histoire du calcul des longitudes (PUR, 2002). The Shadows of The Place Royale (Les ombres de la place Royale) is his first novel.