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Les lettres du Docteur Jeangille

by manonamora profile

Slice-of-Life, Surreal

Web Site

(based on 5 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

La vie du Docteur Jeangille se boulversa, forcée de s'installer dans le petit et calme village de Meaux. Des échanges avec son amante Olympia nous apprend beaucoup sur cette récluse personne, et des mystérieux évènements...

15k mots environs en entier. Une douzaine de passages. 4 fins. Écrit en 1 1/2 semaines.

Forced to settle in the small and quiet village of Meaux, the life of Doctor Jeangille falls into turmoils. In the epistolary exchanges with Olympia, the lover, this recluse person comes to life, entangled in peculiar and mysterious events...

Game Details


14th Place - French Comp 2024

Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2024


Les lettres du Docteur Jeangille has been translated into English for the 2024 Edition of the SpringThing!
This new version is also available on the same itch page as the original French version.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Epistolary Mystery, March 27, 2024
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

Feeling angry, hurt, betrayed, le Docteur must leave for the countryside, banished from the educated and cultured social circles of the city. Fortunately, a sophisticated high-class Lady comes to live in the village shortly after, providing at least some measure of worldly and literary conversation.

Through a series of letters to the lover left in the city, we learn about the goings-on in the peasant town, the background of this high-class Lady, and the events leading to le Docteur's banishment.

The story plays in the past, perhaps 3 centuries ago. It’s an impressive tour de force on the part of the author to write the letters so consistently in the voice and style of a cultured person from that age, distinguished yet emotional, full of purplish expressions without dropping out of character.

The epistolary form the author has chosen lends itself perfectly to a gradual build-up of the mystery at the heart of the story. The letters are one-sided, we only ever see the perspective of le Docteur. They start off as an account of a lover’s yearning, a lament over the circumstances of their parting. Slowly, the focus shifts to the letter-writer’s new living circumstances: the village of Meaux with its peasants and farmers, its livestock and farmlands. Throughout the most part of the narrative, le Docteur is preoccupied with securing the attention of the lover left behind, recounting amusing or strange events in the village and avowing undying love and desire.

Underneath this light and gossipy tone, the reader gleans more and more threatening fragments of an unfolding mystery, while the protagonist remains oblivious of the possibility of this looming danger. The distance of the reader to the events described in the letters leaves room to see correlations that remain invisible for the letter-writer, who is too close to see the bigger picture. Of course, from an out-of-game perspective, it’s also the case that the reader is capable of expecting a turn of circumstances that is impossible to prepare for from within the story-viewpoint.

Le Docteur's letters speak of intense emotions of love and longing towards the left-behind lover, and the reader is an engaged, empathetic witness, often even flinching at jealous words of accusation or egocentric and manipulatively twisting arguments. Until the very end, the love story remains the main focus, the mystery serving to heighten the tension without ever taking control of the narrative.

Very tense and touching. Among the best I’ve read.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A richly described series of love letters set in the 1800s, with a mystery, March 12, 2024
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Whew! This game strained my poor Anglophone brain, as it is written in a fancy style of French and a cursive font. There is a very large amount of text as well, so I had to use all my forces to persevere!

But the story itself was interesting enough to carry on. It consists of letters written between two women, although I believe every letter is from the point of view of Isabella, a woman who became a doctor in Paris before being ejected and forced to return to the village of her home. Her lover, Olympia, is left behind. Isabella must face the disapproval and suspicions of the villagers, as well as Olympia's jealousies when the pale, anemic, and beautiful Alice moves in next door.

Gameplay is a bit curious; as at least one other person noted on the forums, it bears some resemblance to The First Draft of the Revolution, where you select different cycling variations before confirming and moving on.

However, there are very large chunks of text between choices (large for me, maybe not for native speaker). These large gaps, and my suspicion that the choices didn't change much of the game, led me to assign a mental score of 4.

However, I had early on, in a separate window, clicked through quickly to see how long the game would be, and received an ending with a clear choice (to (Spoiler - click to show)destroy your letters or not). I was surprised when, in my real playthrough, I never encountered that passage. I used saves and found 2 endings in my own playthrough, and they were quite interesting. So when it became clear that this was actually fairly complex, I upgraded to five stars.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Spring Thing 2024: Doctor Jeangille's Letters, April 21, 2024
by kaemi
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2024

What a wondrous, sappy tradition, the breathless letter. The rawly overworked declarations, with their extraexclamatory raptures of emotion which the voice could not carry so ostentatiously: “No words could ever express how deeply I miss your presence!! / No words could ever express how grand is my anger!!” An operatic tenor that confettis its cliches: “Memories of that morning still haunt me — seeing you, standing on the other side of that damned glass, your emeralds glazed by your sobs, your lips quivering, bidding me farewells. The breeze danced with your chestnut curls, untangling and entangling your so lovely locks. Your flushed cheeks, on which I had laid my kisses only moments earlier, were now beaded with tears … What torture it was to hear the whistle announcing the train’s departure, and to see you disappear in a cloud of smoke!”

With each curl of that smoke cursives new lines in the fine tradition of George Sand, fiery testaments to eternity that are undone with each tempestuous new whim, where sudden breaks of recrimination revel in the unbridling joy of a bridge burning to replace the yearning to cross it: “Viper’s tongue, insidious hatred, I despise you! I curse your name! You, who have given me so much pain… you have found the demise of my heart! Your words have trampled my whole being to dust. I wish you all the Evils of the Earth!” The finality feels good, until, a night sobbing into the pillow later, the throat throbs with the aches that there might be more to say: “I lay my broken quill at your feel, bowing until my witch’s nose reaches your unsullied slippers. My body, my heart, my soul… all my being at your disposal, for eternity. Make me your puppet, your doll, your slave!” Rather than stumble seasick from the waves’ violent rocking, we’re meant to enjoy the conflictions as Proustian pleasures, lavish each lurch of the ship, savor in each totalizing emotion the intoxications of love, flaring them to hyperbole so that they might still be felt over the uncrossable distance.

The game, alas, follows our lovers’ affectuations, which gesture more than they commit. The tropes which pulse the narrative are left unexpounded, fashionably prima facie. Nods of Parisienne glamor ghost the fallenness into provincial mundanity, but the decadent sensibilities are left offscreen, the province of the unheard interlocutor. Indeed, much of the relationship to which the entirety of our text is addressed responds only between the lines, a sense of a depth that rarely bubbles up to the surface to edify the reader. The absence at the heart of the story tautologizes. Similarly, there is a feint to Rousseauvian picturesque as a potential counterbalance against the complications of city life as our narrator makes peace with the slower pace of life, with “all these good people, with rolled up sleeves, working hard, coming and going all day long to bring equipment”, and slowly, rather than wistfully recollect capital absorptions, our narrator relates obsessively the small town small talk of lost sheep and a mother’s difficult birth as if they were fresh from the gossip sheets. In this could burgeon a character arc, but the hyphae never enmeshes with any concept more than the conjuration, merely a series of asides to render the setting less abstract.

A setting for what, we wonder, until aha a mysterious Comtesse moves in, “Pale as snow, with bloody lips, and eyes shining like polished gold.” If your eyebrow raised, congratulations M. Maigret, you’ve intuited the remainder of the plot, which dutifully marches through missing children called out upon the moors and a strange plague of itchy necks. If perhaps we’re meant to indulge in the thrilling dangers of supernatural romance, sadly we also find this relationship more implied than experienced, merely a series of foreshadowy nudges to drumbeat the compiling of tropes with the same listless sense of self evidence as they lead into a dramatic confrontation that makes you rather wish you weren’t being told second hand: “At the eleventh hour, Mlle Bouchon called me in her apartments (at the Marquis’s, hence), so to confess her scheming and plots during this dreadful affair. Oh, my beautiful Olympia, what else can I say except that you were entirely scrupulous about her! And of the villagers’ suspicions, too! Alice was not only in the throes of this mystery… she was the entire mystery herself!” With the requisite revelation out of the way, nothing is left to drive the text onto new incidents, so though “There are still a few knots in this affair to untangle, and documents to fill, before finally closing this chapter forever”, we exeunt upon the declarative: “a great void has been felt throughout the village.”

If the epistolary exuberances lose their pleasurably pulp sentimentalism along the way, so that we must simply take the idea of the story at its word, sometimes it’s the thought that counts. With a little whimsy, we may as well enjoy ourselves, for who can argue with such summery sentiments: “I wish for you a wonderful life, filled with new loves, joy, and health. Pray to remember spending as much time as humanly possible in the sun and eating lots of garlic!” If in some perfumes there is more delight, still all love is a rarity to be cherished beyond comparison.

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