I kind of like the idea of and AU in which Les Mis is actually written by Marius. Like as he got older he just had an increasing amount of Feelings About Things and started obsessively researching his mysterious heroic father-in-law, as well as everybody else connected to him and Cosette.
So he traveled around the country interviewing people, looking through documents, checking locations etc. and finally wrote down his own interpretation of the events based on the things he found out or remembered. And because he’s Marius he couldn’t help but address various other things he’d become interested in (like sewers, argot, etc.) and some things he used to be interested in (Napoleon, Waterloo). He also became much more republican and much more conscious of social problems later in life so the book became increasingly about those things too.
… So I guess everything in Les Mis would be from an older Marius’s point of view in this universe. Honestly I think it might explain a lot.
“This is the story of How I Met Your Mother…. And how your grandfather stole a loaf of bread…”
Omg thank you for this addition.
A Very Astute Observation About Cats, by Victor Hugo
I’ll let Enjolras answer that question for me, directly from the book:
Listen, my friend, Feuilly, valiant workingman, man of the people, man of all peoples. I venerate you. Yes, you clearly see future ages; you are right. You knew neither a father nor a mother, Feuilly; you have adopted humanity for your mother, and right for your father. You are going to die here, that is, to triumph.
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!
I pun, therefore I am.
Friendly reminder that the first person Marius talks to after he had just fallen out with his grandfather is Bossuet.
Marius who has to be absolutely heart-broken and angry, whose father has recently died, who has just made his grandfather kick him out, who has just left his financialy stable, secure life, the only life he’s ever had, who has no idea where to go, what to do, with next to no money and literally no one left.
Marius who then hears this random stranger calling out his name, a man he has never even met before and who just got kicked out of law school for someone he didn’t even know. A completely poor, young man who doesn’t even has a place to live, who does something nice for someone he has never met without expecting anything in return simply out of the sheer goodwill of his heart.
Bossuet is literally the first good thing that happens to Marius in this new, probably absolutely terrifying part of his life that just started.
He is like, the epitome hope here, that things might not be as bad as they seem. That even in the most hopeless times, there’s the brightness of unconditional human kindness.
I just. Love. Bossuet. So. Much.
grantaire might not have done any of the fighting but he did do a lot of the foreshadowing and that’s not nothing
I love the way in the movie it makes out like Marius is one of the leaders of the rebellion, when in the book Marius is literally the goofy friend that says something dumb and everyone fondly rolls their eyes and goes ‘classic pontmercy’
Aah I’m so glad you asked!
First I just want to clear up for my fellow translation-dependent readers that “the South” isn’t quite what Hugo says– he says they’re from “the Midi”. It’s a totally understandable translation and gets across a lot of what’s intended, but it’s not quite the same thing– a bit like an American historical reference about “the Deep South” instead of “ The South”, in that there’s some specificity and nuance there. So really, I’m going to be talking about why the Amis are, except Legle, from The Midi.
TL, DR; The Amis being from the Midi is another contextual clue/reminder of how much political turmoil France is going through in canon era far beyond what happens to the characters we follow, and another nod to the Amis in general *not* being naive or ignorant of the danger of what they’re doing **It may also be an attempt to remind Hugo’s contemporary readers that the South, which seems to have fallen into a stereotype of being reactionary or monarchist, was also home to very devotedly republican thinkers and activists.
Like so much about Les Mis, it has its roots in the French Revolution. The Midi was the home of some of the earliest and most passionate revolutionary groups–there’s a reason the theme of the Republic was “ La Marseillaise ”, after all. Volunteers, agitators and organizers from the Midi were some of the most active, involved–and violent– in the early phases of the revolution, on the ground level if not always at the level of elected leaders. ***
And people of the Midi were also some of the most active, involved–and violent– in the counter-revolutionary movement, from the earliest days on.
And “on” very much means into the 1830s.