Uggghh, I swear I meant to finish my post about the Mont Saint-Michel prison this past weekend but I just got so completely distracted by research.

Like, turns out that one of the 1832 insurgents, a painter called Edouard Colombat, managed to escape the prison. Supposedly he was the first one who succeeded (although this is probably an exaggeration: more like first one in his era) because, well, the prison is on an island which, at the time, was about 6-7 km (about four miles I guess?) from land and really heavily guarded and with all these high walls to scale.

And then he wrote a detailed account of it. And his story is readable/downloadable right here. So of course I had to read it, right? And now I have the urge to talk about it of course… It’s like suddenly running into a real life 19th century Shawshank Redemption. I mean, if I understood correctly, he basically escaped through a kind of “sewer” too. It was like a waste disposal chute or something? (Okay the actual explanation was more complicated because he like carved through several walls etc. but still.) Except it wasn’t under ground, it just lead halfway down the wall and then he had to climb down using a rope he made out of scraps of string that he’d managed to collect but then the rope was too short and he had to jump and almost incapacitated himself in the fall but managed to keep going… And I mean, it’s possible that this is an embellished account but still, he actually did manage to escape, basically just with a nail and bits of string and months of hard work plus some help from his cellmates (who didn’t dare to follow him but were happy to give him a hand). And he was never caught.

Except unfortunately the result of his escape was that the prison rules became stricter and harsher and it was terrible for the friends he left behind. One of his cellmates, a young porter called Lepage,

a big, strong guy, lost both his physical and mental health and he died in 1843 from tuberculosis which he’d contracted in prison, impoverished and mentally ill (in Bicêtre, presumably in the asylum). Also Colombat himself apparently never fully healed from the injuries he got on his escape either and I got the impression that he couldn’t paint anymore after that… He said the right side of his body was partially paralyzed or something? He founded an inn in Jersey instead. (Eventually he was amnestied and was allowed to return to France, though. (All the 1832 insurgents who were still alive were amnestied, more or less, in 1837. Some of them under surveillance but still. (Oh and in the case of Lepage, I assume he stayed in the mental hospital but it’s not like I actually know this for a fact, I just know he died in Bicêtre in 1843.)))

Anyway, the story gave great insight into what the prison was like at the time so it’s not like it was completely irrelevant of course.

Also there are detailed accounts from other prisoners too. I’ve just been reading them and feeling alternately excited and horrified and incredibly depressed. Apparently the place became absolutely terrible for political prisoners later on. As in like you’d rather be a forced labourer than a political prisoner there…

My point is, the problem with historical research is that you risk finding something so interesting that you can’t stop reading more about it.

Les Misérables Manga: The Not-Scanlation, 2.3.1


Previously on Les Misérables Manga: Little Cosette, sent to fetch water from the spring in the dark woods, found herself assisted by a mysterious stranger. *Gasp* Who could it be?

Coming up: Valjean meets Cosette and gets to join the rest of us in going, “Oh, gosh, everything is awful.”

Warning: This chapter has pervasive child abuse

Underneath the cut, like always, are scans, followed by the translated script. Super major kudos to this chapter’s guest translator, vapaus-ystavyys-tasaarvo, who has been very patient with me and the delay in posting this. Translations of previous parts and overviews of more recent chapters can be found at the [manga masterpost]. 

And Volume 6 of the manga, which takes us right up to the eve of the barricades, will be coming out on October 9! You can pre-order it, or order any of the other five manga volumes at the fine retailers listed [here]. There’s an official French translation now, too! No, English, though, alas. 


Keep reading



I tried to do a bit of research on the origin of the name Patron-Minette and found this entry:

PATRON-MINETTE, se lever dès le, a French popular phrase for getting up early, a corruption of Potron-Minette, &c., lit. “the young of the cat”, and so “to rise with the kitten”.

As for the “potron” / “poitron”, it seems to have its origin in posterio, which makes it a word for “derrière” (backside or, well, posterior) and the whole expression not “to rise with the kitten”, but literally “to rise as soon as the backside of the kitten shows” («se lever dès que le derrière du chat se fait voir»). The CNRTL states that the expression originally was dès le patron/potron-jaquettejaquettes being a name for squirrels – and that it refers to the way squirrels tilt up their tales so that their backsides show.

Or, as Hugo puts it, “The name Patron-Minette probably derived from the time their work usually finished, dawn being the moment phantoms fade and the crooks break up”, which, of course, sounds a lot more intimidating.


I’m taking this as license to call them “Team Catt Butt” from now on.


I’ll…probably regret posting this. But it just makes me so sad to see how fanon has reduced Enjolras to a caricature of the character Hugo created, nothing but a compilation of tropes that stress naivete, cruelty (however unwitting), emotional constipation, etc.

I’m becoming increasingly bemused by the pervasive fanon that depicts Enjolras as a complete arsehole towards a vulnerable Grantaire (who, of course, only exhibits any arseholish behaviour as a manifestation of mental illness and/or alcoholism), and who has to apologise – often repeatedly – for being so very misunderstanding and insensitive to the special, talented, troubled, tormented, gifted man that Grantaire is. And while we’re at it, we often get a medley of various Amis all-too-ready to tell Enjolras what a flawed, cruel (even unwittingly cruel) person he is, completely emotionally stunted or with his head-up-his-arse, who needs to apologise to poor Grantaire. And while we’re at it, we’ll have a side order of Grantaire and his bestie Eponine (we never actually see them together in canon, but hey-ho, Fandom decided they’re besties), with Eponine prepared to kick Enjolras’ arse because he’s so very, very mean to Grantaire.

I get the desire to identify with Grantaire, and in doing so, mold him into a more sympathetic character and gloss over his flaws. I think one of the positive things fandom does is make characters figures that one can identify with – I suspect reinterpreting and writing about Grantaire has been cathartic for more than one fanfic author, working through their own pain and issues.

What I find rather upsetting is that in reworking and reinterpreting R, so many fandom writers utterly gut Enjolras’ character, and make him into a completely unlikeable caricature of the figure we meet in canon, or into a figure that bears no relation to his canon origins – so many read more like OCs that happen to share his name, appearance, and some sort of vague interest in social justice.
Change, for example, their dynamic into a modern setting so that Enjolras retains every ounce of his privilege, but Grantaire becomes a tormented struggling artist who is trying to earn a living while he battles personal demons and a troubled upbringing, and you twist or leave out the fact that the Grantaire of the book is a privileged young man who has the time and the wherewithal to spend his days wandering around Paris indulging his passions for good food, good drink, good company and an array of bourgeois sports. He is not a tragically disappointed idealist defeated by the struggle of life – he’s the equivalent of the modern dude-bro who spouts Evo-Devo crap as an argument for human nature just being what it is (“sucks, man, but chicks are always going to go for the rich dudes”).

Enjolras is not a big meanie to him because he tragically fails to understand Grantaire’s tormented struggle. He is frustrated because Grantaire actively acts like a prick (e.g. singing royalist ditties for the express purpose of annoying his friends) and actively disavows their cause. The only times we see Enjolras respond harshly to Grantaire is when Grantaire is actively disruptive, e.g. of a key meeting and when they’re building the barricade. At other times, we see Grantaire rambling/ranting at will, and Enjolras saying nothing about it, any more than he does about his other friends. Enjolras is harsh, yes, and frankly he has every reason to be – at the barricade, for example, it is a matter of life or death.

Their mutual friends, far from siding with Grantaire and admonishing Enjolras for how he treats Grantaire, try to reign in the excesses of his behaviour – be it Bossuet when R is pawing Louison, or Courfeyrac telling him to STFU when he’s ranting and raving at the barricade. I think there are fair arguments to be made that Grantaire’s sometimes obnoxious behaviour is born of depression and/or alcoholism – that’s a possible interpretation. His complete drunken disruptiveness at the barricades could, arguably, have derived from over-imbibing due to anxiety at events that were rapidly unfolding. But Enjolras does not know that, and – given 19th century understandings of mental health and addiction – it’s a bit much to expect him to show insight into the most constructive way to respond to someone who exhibits behaviours associated with that. He lets him remain with their group, even allowing him access to important, secret counsels. He does not silence him when they’re not meeting on official business. But to fandom that’s not enough – he has to understand and show remorse and repentance for not understanding.

And somehow that gets translated into modern fic, and Enjolras gets hauled over the coals for not properly understanding Grantaire. Seriously – as someone who has been involved in political activist groups from before my university days right up to the present, if someone was as prone to drunken interjections, heckling, mocking etc as Grantaire is often depicted as doing in modern fic, they’d last all of one meeting. That behaviour is disrespectful to everyone, not just the person leading the meeting. It is really, really shitty behaviour. Even worse, in their way, are the fics that depict Grantaire as being helpful, or offering valid, insightful criticisms of Enjolras and the Amis philosophy and methodology. This would run contrary to the canon version of Grantaire (who does neither – nor does he offer any insightful observations as to why their movement will fail, and that’s another topic I’d like to write on at greater length). If he did, his entire dynamic with Enjolras would be different. Write him like that in a modern day fic, and you just make Enjolras look like a jerk and Grantaire look like a martyr.

I apologise for the length of this, but it’s so frustrated to see Enjolras’ character so butchered to enhance Grantaire’s, and to turn Grantaire into the insightful critic who corrects Enjolras. He’s not. His dynamic with Enjolras is extremely important for both their character arcs, but it’s not because Enjolras comes to realise Grantaire is right. I always feel a bit ill by the approval fanon bestows upon Grantaire’s cynicism by suggesting that he was more insightful than Enjolras and that he is correcting Enjolras’ naiveté, or by positing his position as “realism”. Privileging the cynical idea that progress is naïve and activists who strive for it lack the realism of those who decry social activism or say can’t really make a significant difference, which is the subtext of so many depictions of the E/R dynamic, revolt me. They’re often linked to reading the final moments to these characters purely in terms of a personal interaction, and ignoring the whole soaring, searing beauty of Grantaire finally rising to embrace belief.

Apologies for the length and emotion of this. I’m just so very, very tired of seeing Enjolras’ character butchered and warped to accommodate a particular interpretation of Grantaire. I love both these characters.


replied to your post “Quick, somebody give me Courfeyrac/Marius prompts so I can at least do…”

I’m struggling to get something done myself. O_o;;; Maybe Marius doing something nice for Courfeyrac as a thank you for taking him in? Like cooking him dinner or something?

Whoops this turned out rather silly.

Marius gives a guilty start and instinctively moves to cover
his work as he hears Courfeyrac enter his apartments. Their apartments now, he supposes, but it will take more than a handful
of days for him to believe it.

Courfeyrac raises his eyebrows and Marius abandons his
futile attempt to hide his culinary efforts.

“Are you inviting guests for dinner?” asks Courfeyrac. “I
didn’t know you cooked.”

“I don’t,” says Marius morosely. “I had thought- I had
wanted-” He stops and glares at the meat he’s been cutting up as though it were
to blame for his present predicament. “You have been very kind to me. I thought
maybe I could do something in return. I made my own meals in the early days of
our acquaintance and I thought I could – I thought it would be easy to make dinner
for you.”

“A kind thought,” says Courfeyrac. “And very practical. I
take it there were difficulties?”

Marius sighs deeply. “I don’t know how to do anything more
than apply heat. I went to the market, I bought meat as I always have, and it
only occurred to me once I’d returned that there’s more to a meal than that. I
don’t know the first thing about spices, even if I had any. I could barely
afford the meat most weeks, let alone anything with it. The only beast I’m fit
to cook for is a dog, or a man living like one.”

Courfeyrac pats him gently on the back. “Don’t be so distressed,
dear fellow. I was just coming back to ask if you wanted to dine with me at the
Café Voltaire tonight. Let me take you to dinner and let someone else worry
about the ways of spices and side-dishes.”

That feels a great deal like defeat. “Then I would be even
more in your debt,” Marius protests. “I am supposed to be balancing the
weights, not adding to them. There must be something
I can do for you.”

Courfeyrac makes a great show of thinking the matter over. “Perhaps
you ought to give me a kiss; it might transform me into a prince. Then I could oust
old Louis-Phillippe and become king myself. That would be an excellent favor.
My first act will be to abolish the monarchy. I will take the crown’s jewels
and sell them all to pay for schools and hospitals – excepting of course a
small portion which I will set aside to buy a comfortable townhome for my
accomplice, Marius Pontmercy, so that he may live as pleasantly as can be and
invite his old friend Citizen Courfeyrac over for dinner from time to time.”

Marius manages a weak smile. “The way things have been
going, I’m afraid my kiss is more likely to turn you into a fellow pauper. Then
we’d both be homeless.” He tries to sound as casual as Courfeyrac, tries to
make the word “kiss” have no more weight than any other. Courfeyrac will laugh
at him if he knows what sort of effect his suggestion has had on Marius.

“Ah well, better a pauper than a ‘de’,” says Courfeyrac
philosophically. “We can turn our coats into cloaks and proclaim ourselves a
pair of modern day Diogeneses. I would say a Crates and Hipparche, but I fear
that will take more than kissing. Still, either way we shall come out ahead,
philosopher, king, or both. I say we chance it.” He raises a single perfect
eyebrow in inquiry.

Marius can feel his ears turning red. It’s likely nothing to
Courfeyrac; he’s seen Courfeyrac kiss his friends in greeting and parting or mere
excitement at a well-chosen word or clever argument. But Marius has never had
friends he wished to kiss, not until he met Courfeyrac. And now…

Before his courage can fail him, he leans in and quickly
brushes his lips and against Courfeyrac’s. He has the satisfaction of seeing
Courfeyrac blink in surprise as he pulls away.

“Well?” asks Marius, voice trembling only a little. “Have I
turned you into a prince or a pauper?”

Courfeyrac blinks once more, gives an almost imperceptible
shake of his head, and in another moment he seems his usual self again. “Neither
– you have transformed me into a sous-chef. An overlooked property of kisses, much
neglected by storytellers. You have provided the meat, I have my own stock of
spices, and between the two of us we can make a respectable showing. There is
only one problem remaining.”

“What’s that?” asks Marius,

“Why, you will have overpaid me – both dinner and a kiss
when I was only due one for the evening. You will have to let me pay you back before
we make out the receipts.”

Marius considers this. “I suppose you’re right,” he says with
mock solemnity. “I wouldn’t want to put you in a difficult position.”

“It would be quite ungentlemanly of you,” agrees Courfeyrac.
“Make your demands, Monsieur Pontmercy.”

“Well…” he says, slowly, “now that we know what happens when
I kiss you, perhaps we should see what happens when you kiss me.” He can’t
quite make himself look Courfeyrac in the eye and his face feels as though it’s
on fire, but the words are out and there’s no taking them back.

“How enterprising of you!” says Courfeyrac approvingly. “Of
course, if we want proper scientific results, we’ll have to try to replicate
them. Many times, I should imagine.”

“That’s the only responsible thing to do,” agrees Marius.

Then Courfeyrac is kissing him, and neither of them has
anything to say for a great while after.

them: got any fantasies? 😉
me: so everyone on tumblr who’s written really good les mis meta is having a conference about the parts of the story one would include in a twelve-hour miniseries, and they’ve got a huge budget and a perfect cast and


He found Cosette in their garden; she was sitting in the grass, in her nightdress, barefoot, her hair untied, and she was looking at the clear sky with a sort of wistful expression on her face. Marius hesitated. It would have been easy to quietly go back inside and to leave his wife alone, as she’d certainly intended to be – Lord knew she would have had the same kindness for him if he’d asked for a private moment; in fact, she had done so before, leaving him be in his darkest hours. 

“I swear there used to be more stars in the sky,” said Cosette softly, settling Marius’s dilemma for him. She didn’t look at him as he approached and sat next to her. “I see less stars, and I keep thinking it doesn’t make sense; my father used to tell me good souls went to heaven when they died, and that they left a bright mark in the sky during night so that their families never feel alone without them.”

“It’s a lovely story,” Marius said. 

“And untrue, probably,” Cosette sighed. “A tale for a little kid asking too much questions about her mother.”

“Is it, really?” Marius murmured. Cosette blinked, and then slowly turned her head towards him, gentle curiosity in her eyes. Marius looked at the sky. “Sometimes,” he told her quietly, “I do feel like they’re all still there, in some way; perhaps it’s not the stars, but when I read about Napoleon, I can feel my father; when I pass in front of law school, I can hear Lesgles’s laughter. And when I – when I’m feeling sad, and that you’re not here I could swear -”

Cosette grabbed his hand; Marius knew she wouldn’t mind, if he couldn’t say the words. It’d been more than a year, now, and still he could scarcely talk about him. But the truth was, he wanted to; he wanted to tell Cosette about the first person who had loved him freely and that he’d loved back in return with such easiness that he kept thinking at times that it might have been just one very long dream. He wanted to tell her about Courfeyrac’s puns, his warm smiles, the way he curled around him like a cat in his sleep, his weight familiar and reassuring. 

“Every time I’m in Church, it’s like my dad is looking at me,” Cosette admitted. “And through all the singing, and all the Latin, all that I hear is that he loves me, and that he’s proud of me.”

Cosette’s eyes were shiny when Marius looked at her again. He squeezes her hand, and then he brought their intertwined fingers to her round stomach, before briefly brushing his lips against hers. 

“If we have a boy,” he said, “We should call him Jean.”

 “Actually,” Cosette said, almost hesitant, “I was thinking maybe Jeanne, if we have a girl. I had – another idea, for a little boy. I thought – maybe – Antoine.“

Marius’s breath caught in his throat. There was a distant voice, in the back of his head, that laughed, happy and overwhelmed: “Antoine?” it was saying. “Well i never used the name, Courfeyrac was enough; but surely that baby would not be able to grow up in the world with a better name, I can tell.” 

“I love you,” said Marius now out loud, to Cosette, who beamed at him shyly. “I love you.” he repeated, and hugged her carefully, and as she clung back to him, he could feel it; a caress on his cheek, almost like a kiss, as warm and real as it’d been the first time Courfeyrac had done it, so long ago now. 

When he started to cry, it was from happiness. 

In France, certain critics have reproached me, to my great delight, with having transgressed the bounds of what they call ‘French taste’; I should be glad if this eulogium were merited.

Victor Hugo (In a letter to M. Daelli, Publisher of the Italian translation of Les Misérables in Milan.)

Critics: “Ay, yo, we don’t like the way your books paints the French government and judicial system and general social situation”

Hugo: “lmao yeah you don’t”

(via pilferingapples)