Les Mis fandom where did Floreal come from like I’m so confused
She’s the woman Grantaire is talking about during one of his (long) rants, during Preliminary Gayeties! As Grantaire says:
I met a pretty girl of my acquaintance, who is as beautiful as the spring, worthy to be called Floreal, and who is delighted, enraptured, as happy as the angels, because a wretch yesterday, a frightful banker all spotted with small-pox, deigned to take a fancy to her! Alas! woman keeps on the watch for a protector as much as for a lover; cats chase mice as well as birds. Two months ago that young woman was virtuous in an attic, she adjusted little brass rings in the eyelet-holes of corsets, what do you call it? She sewed, she had a camp bed, she dwelt beside a pot of flowers, she was contented. Now here she is a bankeress. This transformation took place last night. I met the victim this morning in high spirits. The hideous point about it is, that the jade is as pretty to-day as she was yesterday. Her financier did not show in her face. Roses have this advantage or disadvantage over women, that the traces left upon them by caterpillars are visible. (Hapgood translation)
So we never meet her, exactly, but we hear a lot about her– she’s a working woman who makes a living setting the eyelets in corsets, who’s currently dating a banker. (Grantaire disapproves, and is pretty gross about doing so, but literally no one asked you, Grantaire.)
SLIGHTLY GROSS INFO BELOW CUT
OKAY GUYS I feel like we don’t acknowledge enough that one line Grantaire says! I mean besides all the other lines that Grantaire says! The one that comes right after “I understand only love and liberty” remember that line (my favorite line)???
Yeah after that is my SECOND favorite line: “Never having had any money, I never got used to it, and therefore I’ve never felt the need of it; but if I’d been rich, there would have been no more poor!” THAT LINE.
He’s drunk here and still thinks of how he would help people if only he’d been in the position.
And it’s so interesting to me because Grantaire is speaking of how if he had the chance he would help, but meanwhile there is an actual barricade there with an actual hopeful revolution occurring. And he is not helping.
Enjolras and the other amis have their method of doing things, which is to demand more from the government. But GRANTAIRE (my beautiful son) doesn’t think that way. He doesn’t think going to the government will get them anywhere. He would go directly to the people suffering from the problem and help them with what he has, personally.
He’s surrounded by a bunch of rich schoolboys who have the money to help the poor directly (and also gain their devotion and to raise spirits) but who instead reject the money and challenge a powerful government. But he speaks of how if he was in their economic position he would do something guaranteed to help.
And this is from someone who says he “never (…) had any money” so he probably knows better than them how it feels to be like the rest of society, hardly making it through.
Idk man, this is my son and I love him.
This was in the tags, so I decided to go ahead a comment on this post.
Because I don’t think this way about the situation at all.
Grantaire is a sh*ttalker. That’s his thing (apart from literally 2-3 lines in all of his appearances in the book), and nothing he says should be taken at face value.
Sure, Grantaire seem to be favouring the theory of Valjean’s way of helping. And yes, helping the occasional citizen may help that citizen through the day, but what about the rest of their life? They’ll still die poor, powerless, subject to the whims of another King. Never masters of their own life.
Grantaire is thinking he is being theoretically kind, but he is but prolonging the status quo. Charity is never the way forward.
But even beyond that, he is not talking about being in the Amis’ economic position, because he is in their economic position – he is a wealthy bourgeois student, who can afford drinking and gambling through the day, and then wake up in his nice furnished apartment, with his nice clothes, to do more of the same on the next day. He knows every day from where his next meal is coming.
He’s talking about yet another fantasy, a Rotschilds-like fortune, basically something like ‘If I was King’.
From what we see of Grantaire, it’s all either a swollen-head self-aggrandizement, or meek fake-modesty. I think this is an instance of the latter.
Grantaire is troubled by society, and I am certain, and have always been certain, while reading the brick, that he has a good heart––but he does absolutely nothing, in the course of the brick, that puts him on a moral pedestal above the rest of the amis. Far from it. “Shittalker” sums it up.
It is TOTALLY shittalking. Well-meant and hopeful bluster, but bluster all the same.
FWIW it’s worth, I don’t think it’s either false modesty or self-aggrandizement, though. I think it’s fear.
Grantaire’s “if I won the lottery” style lamenting here is like Gillenormand’s complaining that if HE were rich, he’d have SO many young mistresses, totally, you don’t even know. Gillenormand IS rich, incredibly rich! The reason he can’t have young mistresses is totally unrelated to that! But it’s face-saving to blame it on money. Grantaire is, at the least, solidly middle-class– he COULD give to charity, or toss money to beggars in the street. Heck, he probably even does, when he thinks of it. But his conviction that he can’t *really* change anything has nothing to do with money.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK ABOUT FEUILLY! thank you friend 😀
- so. he’s a complete nerd. like, he really is. His Brick description is not so much a list of personality traits as a list of special interests. That, actually, says a lot about his personality. He’s passionate, and enthusiastic, and a giant nerd.
- kind of awkward too? he’s pretty confident about his knowledge of said interests, but he talks about them – all the time. even when it’s not really related to the subject at hand. He rants whenever someone – willingly or not – gives him the opportunity to. he gets so offended on the behalf of others and injustices and betrayal. every single time. Bless him.
- He considers his own education as a way to deliver himself. He learned to read and write by himself, and while this would be impressive about anyone, but it’s even more knowing what we do about Feuilly’s background. He probably started working/apprenticeship really young, because the orphanage or wherever he was staying wouldn’t – couldn’t – have kept him on forever. But he still taught himself to read, seeing it as a mean to rise up beyond his circumstances. That’s more than hard work – that’s hope and ambition and dedication and desparation all blended together.
- and he never loses that? it’s liked to his passion, really – he knows he/the world can be better, and he holds on to that, always strives towards that, even though his life must have been really difficult sometimes.
- honestly he’s like the opposite of Grantaire in many ways – he has every reason in the world to be bitter and cynical, but he’s not. he’s so passionate (I’ve said it like three times oops) and he’s so. trusting? like. even more than Combeferre, who wasn’t surprised when the generals didn’t come to their aid. Feuilly was genuinely heartbroken over it, like – you’d have totally expected him to know that these higher-ups would have let them down like they’ve let them all down before, and he’s been let down a lot in his life, but he didn’t. whether he’s instinctively trusting or makes himself trust because he refuses to be bitter is a matter of interpretation, but. that’s really something.
- it’s one of the reasons I picture him as a bit younger than most of the fandom does, really, because 1) being a worker in the 1820s/1830s (or today really) doesn’t at all mean that he has to be older than students, especially if it’s such a big deal that he never got to go to school in the first place, and 2) that idealism and trust and enthusiasm sentimental aspect of his personality just seems different than the sort of laid-back experience of the older members like Bahorel and Bossuet, idk.
- oh man this is already so long why.
- I haven’t even gotten to fanon/improvised traits I like to give him.
- he’s just. a cutie. okay I’ll try to find other posts I’ve written about this before and reblog them.
my gripes about the way Feuilly is portrayed in fandom is usually when two (often related) things happen: his canon personality gets replaced by a bunch of classist cliches, like grumpy, swearing, fighting, macho, rude, close-minded etc, or when he becomes a sort of Bahorel-lite, with fighting, drinking, swearing, loud, and always mentionned as part of ‘BahorelandFeuilly’, never as an individual person (I dislike Bahorel’s characterisation in that too, but he usually is at least a little better? closer to his actual personality? anyway)
besides these two frankly terrible trends, I think, as with every character in this fandom, we have some leeway when it comes to personality traits. We have the descriptions in the book, which are frankly both precise and vague at the same time it’s kind of beautiful, as well as the way they’re played in the musical, different movies/shows/etc. so. my take on characters is not more valid than any other that’s done with, you know, some thoughts and consideration for the material and implications.
Javert’s the type of cop that would miss out on a high-speed chase because he’s too busy trying to catch a jaywalker the next street over.
but literally every time I read a description of Feuilly that goes along the line of ‘has big strong muscles because he’s a worker and working makes you buff’, I think of like. all those skinny kids working at Starbucks getting big strong muscles from operating the espresso machines. The cashiers at the grocery stores and their big strong muscles from putting food in bags. The people working in clothing stores and their big strong muscles from folding clothes and giving customers thumbs-up on their outfits. Me, getting big strong muscles from typing all day. even in canon era – painting tiny little fans, what a show of brute strenght.
Ahh, working, always such great muscle-building work-out.
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!