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Observations placeholder

Dumas, Alexandre – from Memoirs – Recounts the experiences of Mr. Villenave



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

as quoted in Ernesto Bozzano - Psychic phenomena at the moment of death [110 cases suggesting survival after death]

Telekinesis related to death event

1-st case. - I begin with an example from My Memoirs, by Alexandre Dumas Sr. (chapter CXV).  This author recounts how, having gone to his friend Villanelle's house one night to give him a letter he had been entrusted with, he found him asleep in an armchair and without light. He goes on to tell us:

"You see", said Mr. Villenave, "it's quite strange... I had fallen asleep, twilight had arrived. Meanwhile, the fire went out. You woke me up and you found me without light. Not realizing the noise that was made at home, it was probably the air from the door that passed over my face, but when I woke up, it seemed to me I saw something white like a shroud flying before my eyes.... That's very strange, isn't it?" Villenave continued with such a body movement, which indicates a chill running through the cooled limbs. "Here you are; good!"

And he reached out his hand to me.

I replied to his courtesy, passing the letter, that I brought him, from hand to hand.

- Why are you standing there? Villenave asked me.

- Ah! Forgive me, I forgot... a letter that Françoise gave me for you, and which is the cause I disturbed you.

- Thank you very much. - Please, hold out your hand and give me a match. Actually, I'm still numb and if I were superstitious, I'd believe in foreboding.

He took the match that I gave him, and lit it in the red ashes of the fireplace.

As the match caught on fire, a light spread through the room, and, as dim as it was, the objects could be distinguished. Ah! My God, I thought to myself suddenly; what happened to your beautiful pastel?

- You see: the glass and frame are broken; I will wait for the glassmaker and framer... This is incomprehensible!

- What is incomprehensible?

- The way in which it fell.

- The nail came loose? the piton broke?

- None of that. Imagine the day before yesterday, I had been working all night. It was a quarter before midnight, I was tired, and yet I still had to review the proofs of a small compact edition of my Ovid. I decided to combine my fatigue with my work, lying down and seeing the proofs in my bed. I lay down and put my candle on my bedside table; its glow was reflected on the portrait of my dear friend; my eyes followed the glow of the candle; I said good evening to her as usual.

A half-opened window let a little wind pass by; the wind made the flame of my candle flicker, so that it seemed to me that the portrait responds good evening, by a movement of head like mine! You understand that I called this movement vision, madness; but, madness or vision is my spirit that cares about this movement; the more I think about it, the more I figure out that it is real; my eyes, drawn to a one-point only, leave my Ovid to fix on the portrait; my distracted spirit spontaneously goes back to the first days of my youth; these first days come back one by one before me....  I think I told you, the girl from this portrait held a big place in these first days! So here I am, sailing full sails in my memories of twenty-five years. I speak to the portrait as if the painted girl could hear me, and now my memory answers for it; now it seems to me that the portrait stirs the lips; now it seems to me that its colours are fading; now it seems to me that its physiognomy is saddened and takes on a gloomy expression.... something like a farewell smile passes over her lips; a tear rises up to her eyes, and is ready to wet the glass. Midnight begins to ring: I shudder against my will; - why? I don't know! I don't know!

The wind was blowing at the last stroke of midnight, as the bell was still vibrating, the half-opened window opened violently, I heard a shuddering like a lamentation, the eyes of the portrait closed, and, without the nail that supported it breaking, without the piton breaking off, the portrait fell and my candle went out. I wanted to light it again, but no more fire in the hearth, no more matches on the fireplace; it was midnight, everything was sleeping in the house; no way, therefore, to make light; I closed the window and went to bed... Without fear, I was moved, sad, I had a great need to cry; it seemed to me that I heard the creasing of a silk dress passing through my room... Three times this noise was so sensitive, that I asked: "Is there anyone there?" Finally I fell asleep, but late, and when I woke up, as my first glance was at my poor portrait, I found it in position where you see it now.

- And I said to him, this indeed is strange! And did you receive, as usual, that letter you received every eight days?

- No, and that worries me; that's why I had recommended to Françoise to go up or to bring up immediately the letters that would arrive for me.

- Well, but, I said, maybe this one, which I bring to you...

- This is not her way of bending them; but whatever, as she comes from Angers... Then turn it to break the envelope:

- Ah! Oh, my God! he said, it is sealed with black... Poor friend! something bad has happened to her!

El Villenave unsealed the letter, pale in colour; it contained a second one.

On the first lines he read from this first letter, his eyes filled with tears.

Here, he said, giving me the letter, read it!

And while, sadly and silently, he opened the second letter, I took the first one and read it:


It is with my personal pain, augmented by that which you are about to experience, that I announce to you that Madame X. died last Sunday, as the last stroke of midnight struck.

The day before, at the time of her writing to you, she had been suffering from an indisposition that we thought was mild at first, and which worsened until the moment of her death.

I have the honour to send you, however incomplete it may be, the letter that she had begun for you. This letter will prove that, until the moment of her death, the feelings she had given you remained the same.

I am, sir, very sadly, as you think, your most humble and obedient servant."

Therese Miraud.

Well, you see, Villenave said to me, it was at the last stroke of midnight that the portrait fell, it was at the last stroke of midnight that she died.

I believed that the pain, that he felt, needed above all not the flat consolations that I could give him, but a loneliness full of memories.

I took my hat back, shook his hand, and I went out.

It had reminded me of the appearance of my father, who had come to awaken me as a child the very night of his death, and I so many times asked myself the following question without being able to answer myself: "By what mysterious links does death thus hold to life?"

If, in the above case, the painting had fallen because the nail had come off the wall, then it would have been legitimate, to a certain extent, to attribute the event to an accidental coincidence; but, on the contrary, as we could see, Villenave surprisingly points out the circumstances of the nail fixed in the wall and the piton attached to the painting, which had remained in their place. These seemingly insignificant circumstances are, in fact, evidence of paranormal intervention in the incident that occurred.

In this regard, I notice that observations on nails, hooks and cords that are found intact after the paintings fall are the rule in stories of this kind.

The source of the experience

Dumas, Alexandre

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items


Activities and commonsteps