so we all know there’s a bunch of stuff from hugo’s papers and notebooks that never made it into the novel, yes? here are a lot of them (look at them if you haven’t! it’s an adventure) but i’ve made it my mission in life to find more and today at the library i came across this book and in it, there were more. and guys. guys. one of them is my absolute favourite piece of e/R dialogue that never was. please have a look at this:
GRANTAIRE, smoking his pipe and tipsy
People think me situated at the height of philosophy. They are wrong. I am a pig.
– That’s true, said Enjolras.
just picture this exchange. grantaire, smoking a pipe, saying mean stuff about himself, as he does. enjolras, listening, calmly nodding, “yeah….tru….you’re saying it like it is.” combeferre really has some competition in the whole “completely destroy ur opponent using two words or less” department, and grantaire arguably has unlocked a whole new level of putting his own intellect down for fun
(seriously, though, it’s interesting that he wrote this bit in 1861 – so shortly before publication – because around that time, he also made a work note that said “increase enjolras’ harshness toward grantaire. near contempt” so this might have been an idea of how to do that, but he ended up not using it? you can always argue about how intentional the whole e/R dynamic is, but there was a lot of thought put into its details, because that’s the hugo way)
Ooh, I’ve seen this exchange before but without the work note! It’s interesting that he didn’t use it, then! I’ve often thought that the way Enjolras is actually shown treating Grantaire doesn’t really line up with Hugo’s description– except at the barricades, Enjolras never seems to be much besides “reasonably annoyed” about him.
…I gotta say though, that in combination with what we see of Grantaire’s other exchanges, this bit of dialogue does actually read as more familiar and friendly than what we’re given in the book. Grantaire does a lot of Play Insulting and boundary-testing with his friends–including Enjolras– in-book, and is sarcastic and insulting about the whole world in general a lot. This seems to be on that level– which I know is not a comfortable way of expressing closeness for everyone, but we’ve got lots of evidence that it is *for Grantaire*–which to me makes it seem that Enjolras, who’s otherwise pretty serious and direct, is to some extent meeting him halfway on that . I mean, I could see this being part of a series of bantering dialogue between R and Courfeyrac or Bossuet, no problem. (Grantaire of course has much more complicated feelings about Enjolras, but it’s hardly Enjolras’ job to know that when Grantaire himself doesn’t.)
Anyway, it is a great little bit of dialogue! Thank you for bringing it back!
As it turns out, grammar does matter, and Hugo knew it damn well. Something has always bothered me about this sentence, and now I know why. The difference doesn’t exist in English translations, because both “à” and “en” translates to “in”, hence Grantaire’s “I believe in you”. But it isn’t the case in French :
“Je crois à toi” isn’t grammatically correct. In French, you don’t believe “à” someone, you believe “en” someone. “Je crois à” is restricted to things and fictional beings, as in :
- Je crois à la Petite Souris (I believe in the Tooth Fairy)
- Je ne crois pas à la Révolution (I don’t believe in the Revolution)
There are a few exceptions (because otherwise grammar wouldn’t be grammar) but one thing is certain : “à” can not be used to introduce a noun or pronoun referring to a real person :
- Je crois en lui (I believe in him)
- “Je crois à lui” sounds wrong, as wrong as “I believe to him” sounds
Then, why does Hugo use both? Because Grantaire knows the difference as well. Grantaire is good with words and proves it more than once. Remember this quote : “Who has been unhooking the stars without my permission, and putting them on the table in the guise of candles?” ? Grantaire says it drunk. DRUNK. If this man can be that lyrical while smashed to high hell, why would he forget fundamental grammatical principles, all of a sudden?
Answer : he wouldn’t. He does it on purpose.
He’s mirroring Enjolras’s speech :
“Tu ne crois à rien.”
“Je crois à toi.”
This may sound insignificant and, yes, considering the length of the brick, it may be but bear with me. Grantaire is having a laugh, in this passage. Yes, he is serious, he does want to prove his value to Enjolras, but at the same time, he’s Grantaire. He can’t help himself but to play with words. And my best guess is that he’s teasing Enjolras, hence the “Be serious” “I am wild” that comes soon after.
Then what about “Je crois en toi”? Well, it’s a question of context. Look at the description preceeding Grantaire’s declaration :
“Grantaire,” [Enjolras] called, “go and sleep your wine off somewhere else.
This is a place for intoxication but not for drunkenness. Don’t dishonor
The sharp rebuke had a remarkable effect on Grantaire, as though he
had received a splash of cold water. Suddenly he was sober. He sat down
with his elbows on a table by the window, and looking with great
sweetness at Enjolras called back:
“Tu sais que je crois en toi”
Grantaire is serious this time. This isn’t a joke anymore. This is real declaration he’s making here. Enjolras is yelling at him, and yet, Grantaire’s attitude is all but belligerent. I would even argue that “great sweetness” is far from the reverent and loving “inexprimable douceur” from the French text.
Unfortunately, Enjolras is so used to his lack of faith and seriousness that he dismisses it. Grantaire has disappointed him more than once by that point in the brick, so his attitude is understandable. But if Grantaire lacks faith in the cause, he doesn’t lack any in Enjolras. The tragic thing is that Enjolras doesn’t realise it and Grantaire’s serious profession of faith is dismissed. One last nail in your coffin? Look at what comes after :
“Grantaire, you are incapable of believing or thinking or willing or living or dying.”
“You’ll see,” said Grantaire gravely. “You’ll see.”
Imagine Grantaire finding Enjolras sitting behind his laptop looking incredibly concentrated and frowning, pressing the space bar multiple times, so R gives him space, because obviously he’s doing something very important. Only, after ten minutes he’s still like that, pressing the space bar, so Grantaire comes to see what he’s doing
He has no internet connection
He’s playing the Chrome dinosaur game
i didn’t realize that grantaire saying “i am wild” to enjolras was canon but it is and here i was having convinced myself that it was just A Mutually Agreed-Upon Line
Right? I love how often this book is just like the most fandom thing.
I love how Grantaire’s thing about Enjolras seems to elicit a lot of “I thought you guys were exaggerating this but apparently NOT” reactions.
I feel like Enjolras in general gets that reaction a lot . XD
Enjolras: Don’t let the wine go to your brains.
Grantaire: Why are you only looking at me.
Enjolras: No I’m talking to all of you.
Grantaire: No, you were just looking at me.
Enjolras: Okay, I was talking to you.