About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers
Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 1; Kings and Revolution and more Kings and more Revolution
Just kidding, no Brujons in this chapter. I know you’re disappointed. Also, sorry that this one took so long. You see, I’m doing that thing where I start stalling when it feels like things I am enjoying are nearing an end and I don’t want them to end! (This is why I constantly skip finales for even shows that I love and don’t watch them until months later.) It’s only because Marius’s section is over, there is still massive amounts of book to go actually.
But enough about me. It’s time for some history! Even though the last part of this chapter kind of wiped all thoughts about the very important historical contexty first part right out of my brain, I will try to give it a go.
First off, the July Revolution. Yep, there was an entire revolution that happened whilst we were hanging out with Marius for two or five or whatever years, and it’s still not the thing at the climax of this story. (clearly) This particular revolution took place in 1830. It was kind of vaguely mentioned in relation to the dwindling sales of Mabeuf’s flower book. It seems like kind of a strange thing to only be vaguely mentioned. The (very) short oversimplification of it is, Charles X passed some ordinances because things weren’t going his way, and he was ousted from the throne subsequently.
Now Louis Phillipe is the king after Charles X was forced to abdicate. Like many things, it started out alright then went all to hell later on. We won’t get much later on here though. His rule doesn’t end until 1848. Back to the now, though. He’s a king that enjoys his gardens, so I’m getting the impression that we aren’t actually supposed to think this guy is the worst person in the universe. This is only confirmed a few paragraphs later. He was a good guy, and he might have remained a good guy if he hadn’t taken that throne.
This new guy doesn’t greatly improve matters really though. He’s still a king. There is still talk of revolution. It gets to the point where the conversation is pretty out in the open, with people asking how things are going with the whole revolution planning like they’re talking about the weather. Granted, it’s not all out there for the world to see. There are still secret communiqué that we learn all about here in great detail.
To sum up: King — Revolution — Another King
Go forth and read more about it, because history, as always, is far more interesting and terrible and awesome than anything you probably learned in a classroom. Like for instance I just learned that LP up there, escaped France to England under the oh so clever, not at all a cover name: Mr. Smith. Also, Abraham Lincoln used to hunt Vampires. I learned that from the movies.
Anyway, this is where we find the fearless leader of our favourite Amis, griping about how he has absolutely nobody left that could possibly go on this last very important errand of the day. Nobody. Not a single soul.
Enjolras has sent all his men off to various corners of the city to meet with certain groups. You know, to keep everybody on their toes and make sure their passion for revolution does not flare out. He has but one more group to inspire; the Artisans that hang out at Richefeu’s at the Barrière du Maine, playing dominoes.
He’s talking out loud now about his lack of a lieutenant to attend to this group. Woe. Woe. Woe. He was hoping to leave it to that absent minded kid, Marius, but he hasn’t been around… Like, now I’m really fuzzy on the timeline here, because we’ve spent the last two or five or whatever years discussing Marius and his passionate nostrils, garden strolls, man-dates with Courfeyrac, stalking Cosette, and teaming up with Javert to take down Thénardier and almost Valjean, if Valjean wasn’t the Houdini of 19th century France. I’m pretty sure some of these events are happening concurrently somehow, but don’t quote me on that.
It’s still confusing though, and it feels like Marius hasn’t attended any ABC meetings in quite a long while, but Enjolras was counting on him?
Well, that’s not the point. The point is that Grantaire is sitting right there, and he hasn’t been given any task like the rest of them. It’s kind of like he’s the last to be picked for gym class, and the team captain still doesn’t want him and is pretending not to even see him there. He’d rather bench Grantaire and complain about being a man down right in front of his face, or have the kid that picks dandelions and chases butterflies in the outfield, and that kid hasn’t even been to class in two or five or whatever years. Like, ouch. I’m indignant on Grantaire’s behalf, regardless of his less than dependable qualities re: inciting revolution.
Grantaire isn’t going to take that without saying anything though. He’s all; What about me, yo?
Enjolras has absolutely no faith that Grantaire is going to be able to convince these guys to stick with the cause, and he’s totally not shy about saying so. His instructions for Grantaire are to just go sleep off his drink and stay the eff out of the way.
Here, have some block quotes:
“What about me?” said Grantaire. “Here am I.”
“You indoctrinate republicans! You warm up hearts that have grown cold in the name of principle!”
“Are you good for anything?”
“I have a vague ambition in that direction,” said Grantaire.
“You do not believe in everything.”
“I believe in you.”
“Grantaire, will you do me a service?”
“Anything. I’ll black your boots.”
“Well, don’t meddle with our affairs. Sleep yourself sober from your absinthe.”
“You are an ingrate, Enjolras.”
-Bolded: my favourite type of ambitions.
Enjolras is definitely skeptical and disbelieves greatly that Grantaire is the man to go to the Barriére du Maine. Yes, Grantaire tells him. He can go. He has legs. He can get from here to there, and then he proceeds to detail the exact route his legs are going to take. I think we should all be taking sass lessons from professor Grantaire here.
Enjolras continues to be unsure about this whole thing and what the hell exactly Grantaire is actually going to say to these dudes once he does get from from here to there. Grantaire tells him he knows all the right things about principles and Robespierre, and Danton, and is fully capable talking them up so should he have the mind to.
Enjolras tells Grantaire to “Be serious.” Grantaire says, “I am wild.” I am just quoting most of their dialogue in this scene, because I think you will agree that it is priceless.
Finally Enjolras decides that he should give this guy a chance, since he’s saying everything he can say to convince him that he actually does know his stuff, can be totally convincing and inspiring, and is indeed the man for the job.
Well, now to put the icing on this ten layer attempt to impress Enjolras cake, he leaves the Musain, goes to his place which isn’t too far away and returns wearing a Robespierre waistcoat . Which begs the question: Why does he even own this article of clothing? Was it just sitting around in his closet waiting for this very moment of opportunity? Is this a turning point, or was he maybe not always this cynical? The only background we have on R is that he might have once studied painting, and he stole some apples. Are we supposed to draw some parallel with Robespierre here? I know neither enough about symbolism or French history to answer that.
He has one thing to say upon reentry and that is “Red.” Which I’m sure is also totally symbolic. *Runs away from symbolism*
Apparently, Enjolras has nothing at all to say about this intriguing turn of events. Grantaire isn’t quite finished yet. He steps right on up and whispers “Be Easy” in Enjolras’s ear before jamming his cap down on his head and setting off on his way to “indoctrinate Republicans” as it were. I feel like Grantaire is being mostly sincere with his intentions here. It seems a bit much to be just a put on.
Enjolras is the last man out of the Musain that night. He’s on his way to his very own super important meeting with Courgourde of Aix, which explains why he didn’t just go to Richefeu’s his own damn self if he was so worried about it. As he walks, he is excited to think about the impending revolution and then about all his friends and all their qualities.
Combeferre’s “penetrating eloquence”, Feuilly’s “Cosmopolitan Enthusiasm”, Courfeyrac’s animation, Bahorel’s laughter, Joly’s Science, Jehan’s melancholy, and Bossuet’s sarcasms.
Since he’s already thinking about his fellows, he decides he’s going to check up on the one with the powers of cynicism and inebriation, since it’s on the way. So, he shows up at Richefeu’s and what does he see? No, Grantaire is not giving great, moving speeches or anything remotely related to stirring the hearts and minds of the people as far as we can tell, since we’re seeing this entirely from Enjolras’s point of view. And what is this point of view?
Grantaire is sitting there playing some kind of rousing game of dominoes.
So, we aren’t going to get any reaction/fallout regarding Grantaire’s apparent failure here after all that? For real? Damn you, abrupt ending!
Next time:Èponine, or so I gather from the title of book two.