robertawickham replied to your video“Ma Grand’mère by Pierre-Jean de Béranger (~1820?) (via…”

go grandma (though 😦 about Éponine)

Yesss, the grandma is great 😀

Ma Grand’mère by Pierre-Jean de Béranger (~1820?)


I haven’t seen people talking about this song so I figured I’d make a post since it’s referenced in Les Mis. It’s a pretty shamelessly bawdy song about an old lady shocking her grandchildren with stories about all the lovers she had when she was young and how she misses those times when she was all young and hot.

… So obviously Hugo had to have Éponine sing it so now it’s just SUPER SAD. 


Yeah, that fragment of a song she sings while defending the house on Rue Plumet from Patron Minette? This is what it’s from. She’s singing from the point of view of an old woman with “loose morals” who isn’t desirable to men anymore.

Lyrics and my attempts at translation under the cut:

(also: warning for references to underage sex… and I think it’s fair to read a lot of slut-shaming into this although the tone is pretty careless and gleeful about it.)

My translation:

My grandmother, one evening in her celebration,
Having drunk two fingers of pure wine,
Told us, shaking her head:
What lovers I had back in the day!

How I miss
My plump arms
My well-formed legs
And the lost time!

What! Mama, you were not well-behaved!
— Not indeed; and I learned the use
Of my charms only at the age of fifteen
For at night I did not sleep.


Mama, do you have a tender heart?
— Yes, so tender, that at seventeen,
Lindor didn’t make me wait,
And that he didn’t wait for long.


Mama, Lindor knew then how to please?
—Yes, only he pleased me for four months;
But soon I considered Valère,
And made two happy in one go.


What! Mama, two lovers at the same time!
—Yes, but both of them cheated on me.
Sharper at the time than you might think,
I married your grandfather.


Mama, what did his family say to him?
— Nothing, but a more sensible husband
Would have been able to tell from the shell
that the egg had already been broken.


Mama, were you faithful to him?
—Oh! I keep very quiet about that.
Unless God calls me to Him,
My confessor will know none of it.


Wasn’t it quite late, mama, you became a widow?
— Yes; but, thanks to my gaiety,
If the church was no longer new,
The saint was no less celebrated.


Should we, mama, do as you have done?
—Eh! My grandchildren, why,
When I did as my grandmother,
Wouldn’t you do the same?


(Please tell me if you notice mistakes so I can fix them!)

French lyrics:

Ma grand’mère, un soir à sa fête,
De vin pur ayant bu deux doigts,
Nous disait en branlant la tête :
Que d’amoureux j’eus autrefois !

Combien je regrette
Mon bras si dodu,
Ma jambe bien faite,
Et le temps perdu !

Quoi ! Maman, vous n’étiez pas sage !
— Non vraiment ; et de mes appas
Seule à quinze ans j’appris l’usage,
Car la nuit je ne dormais pas.


Maman, vous aviez le cœur tendre ?
— Oui, si tendre, qu’à dix-sept ans,
Lindor ne se fit pas attendre,
Et qu’il n’attendit pas longtemps.


Maman, Lindor savait donc plaire ?
— Oui, seul il me plut quatre mois ;
Mais bientôt j’estimai Valère,
Et fis deux heureux à la fois.


Quoi ! maman, deux amants ensemble !
— Oui, mais chacun d’eux me trompa.
Plus fine alors qu’il ne vous semble,
J’épousai votre grand-papa.


Maman, que lui dit la famille ?
— Rien, mais un mari plus sensé
Eût pu connaître à la coquille
que l’œuf était déja cassé.


Maman, lui fûtes-vous fidèle ?
— Oh ! sur cela je me tais bien.
À moins qu’à lui Dieu ne m’appelle,
Mon confesseur n’en saura rien.


Bien tard, maman, vous fûtes veuve ?
— Oui ; mais, grâces à ma gaîté,
Si l’église n’était plus neuve,
Le saint n’en fut pas moins fêté.


Comme vous, maman, faut-il faire ?
— Eh ! mes petits-enfants, pourquoi,
Quand j’ai fait comme ma grand’mère,
Ne feriez-vous pas comme moi ?


I Miserabili Group Watch (Week Five)


This week’s session of the groupwatch will be on Saturday, October 1st at 4 PM GMT (the same time as last week). That’s

11 am US Central time
12 pm Eastern Time
5 pm in the UK
6 pm in France, Germany and Italy
7 pm in Eastern Europe

We will just be watching episode 9 this week (that’s the barricades), without a break. If you’re just joining us this week and need to catch up, the episodes can be found on youtube here and can also be downloaded in the Slack team. More information can be found here!

Please message me if you need to be added.


AAAAH FANTASTIC SOURCE! Thank you so much for translating this! (pretty sure Harsin quotes from it in Barricades??) EXCELLENT FIND:D

Thank you! My source for the text is La parole ouvrière, which I highly recommend to anyone who can Do A French; I originally found it in the library, but it is priced very reasonably and is a collection of texts written by workers between 1830 and 1851. A whole lot of them are from after 1832, of course, but there’s a truly excellent and very snippy letter written by a cobbler to Hugo in 1846, which: watch this space, is all I’ll say.

Prospectus of “L’Artisan, un journal de la classe ouvrière”, from 1830


Since I stumbled across this prospectus while researching my fic The Artisan and then getting so excited by it that I ended up writing the entire story around it, I’ve been meaning to post a full translation, because it is the best thing

This is the prospectus for a newspaper/journal that only ever published four issues between September and October 1830. I wish I could give you more detail about the content but the only existing copies that I can find are all in the bit of the Bibliothèque Nationale that’s only ‘for researchers’, and I have not yet worked out how I would convince the BN that I, with my shoddy slow schoolchild’s French and patchy historical knowledge, was a genuine researcher. I so, so want to read it though, for like a squillion reasons. From bits and pieces in other books it looks like it contained several reports on the state of the printing industry(!!!!!!) in 1830, including some quantitative stuff the editors did themselves? I mean, gosh. 

Anyway, it was published anonymously but it’s fairly clear even just from the prospectus that it was run by a group of printers. And, look, it makes so much sense for Enjolras to be involved with this, in so many ways aaah. 

Almost everything about this excites me but one of the things I particularly love is how proto-Marxist it is. This was published 37 years before Capital, 18 years before The Communist Manifesto. But look at what’s already there. A labour theory of value, which isn’t new, but one that’s then elaborated into a theory of exploitation – this goes beyond Ricardo. Alienation! A view of history as driven by the increases in class-consciousness brought about by technology. A fierce materialist argument for the necessity of working-class leadership of any emancipatory movement. This is a million miles away from the utopian visions of St Simon and Fourier. I love it.

Anyway, I could gush for ages, but here it is. There are a couple of places where I’ve had to rephrase things to generate approximately readable English, but I’ve tried to keep them to a minimum. Please let me know of any errors in my translation! I believe when I first started translating this I got a bit of help regarding some particularly tricksy phrases from @vapaus-ystavyys-tasaarvo and @amelancholycharm, but they have not looked through the whole thing and are not to be held responsible for any terrible mistakes.

The Artisan: A Working-Class Newspaper*

The most numerous and most productive class in society is, undeniably, the class of workers. Without them capital has no value; without them there would exist no machines, no industry, no commerce. All the classes which lean upon them, which profit from their labour, know this well; only the workers themselves seem either not to know this or not to care. They live in misery, and in slavery to the monopolies, without noticing it; experience all sorts of humiliations from those whose fortunes they have made, without complaint; and see themselves easily decimated by the ordinary police without being the least surprised. Is this where they ought to be? And don’t they have the right to complain about the limbs, as in Menenius Agrippa’s ingenious fable** — since they are truly the stomach of society?

The revolution of the 29th of July gave them a glimpse of all of these realities and, because they are experiencing still more of that violent agitation which just took place, they are conscious of their misery and search for its causes. They begin to understand what their role in the 19th Century should be, and are instructed by the sight of the past as to their present duties.

[I’m putting the remainder, plus footnotes and the original French, under a cut.]

Keep reading









“Alexander Hamilton founded the New York Post” sounds a lot less impressive when you learn the rest of that sentence goes:

“so he could publicly talk smack about the other founding fathers

There was literally an article in this Sunday’s New York Post dragging Aaron Burr for saddling NYC with a grid system instead of wide Parisian boulevards. The first line was “We’ll never have Paris here in New York. But we could have … if not for Aaron Burr.” Marvelous. Hamilton’s ghost is weeping tears of joy.

This is the best addition to this post in 10,000+ notes and I would like to personally thank you for sharing this crucially important historical development

200+ years later and Burr still can’t catch a break from Alexander Hamilton’s legacy

Did Paris even HAVE boulevards at the time Burr saddled NYC with a grid?

They were added after the French Revolution as a tactical choice–you couldn’t barricade them, so there would be no more repeats of the revolution.

Nyah, some Parisian boulevards date back to the 1660s.

I stand corrected!

Incidentally there is an excellent documentary series on netflix I need to link you to once I’m home and can do that

But don’t the majority of Parisian boulevards date to Haussmann in the 1860s??? For the reason of no more barricades, but i’m fairly sure the big boulevards with the four stories houses and balconies date to Haussmann’s rennovations of Paris under the Second Empire! Because of the number of barricades under Louis Phillippe (happening multiple times per year). And that was well after ~1811 when the NYC grid was implemented.

That is true, I’m not aware of any exceptions (although there may be.)

I’m still very bitter about Haussmann’s destruction of Paris..


The majority of the boulevards, I think, date back to Haussmann or later but the Grands Boulevards at least were build around late 17th and early 18th centuries, in place of the old city walls which were demolished as the city grew. And there were a few others too, Champs-Élysées (not called that yet) and the avenues around Les Invalides at least.

But yeah, the boulevards through the town centre didn’t happen until the Haussmann renovations, I’m pretty sure. And yeah, a big reason for it was to a) make it harder to barricade the city and b) to make it easier for the army to move into the city in case of a revolution or a civil war. And I’m guessing they weren’t too sad about the idea of driving poor people (including likely radicals) out of the heart of the city either.

(Joke’s on them, people totally still barricaded the boulevards)