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Both passages are from the Fahnestock/MacAfee translation of Victor… 
23rd-Aug-2005 08:13 pm
Both passages are from the Fahnestock/MacAfee translation of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Signet Classic, 1987. (Original French publication of Les Miserables: 1862.)

MARIUS -- Book Four: The Friends of the A B C
I: A Group That Almost Became Historic

[A few paragraphs introducing Grantaire: a skeptic, gambler, libertine, drunkard, "[taking] great care not to believe anything."]

Still, this skeptic had fanaticism. This fanaticism was not for an idea, nor a dogma, nor an art, nor a science; it was for a man: Enjolras. Grantaire admired, loved, and venerated Enjolras. To whom did these anarchical doubter ally himself in this phalanx of absolute minds? To the most absolute. In what way did Enjolras subjugate him? By ideas? No. Through character. A phenomenon often seen. A skeptic adhering to a believer is as simple as the law of complementary colors. What we lack attracts us. Nobody loves the light like the blind man. The dwarf adores the drum major. The toad is always looking up at the sky. Why? To see the bird fly. Grantaire, crawling with doubt, loved to see faith soaring in Enjolras. He needed Enjolras. Without understanding it clearly, and without trying to explain it to himself, that chaste, healthy, firm, direct, hard, honest nature charmed him. Instinctively, he admired his opposite. His soft, wavering, disjointed, diseased, deformed ideas hitched onto Enjolras as to a backbone. His moral spine leaned on that firmness. Beside Enjolras Grantaire became somebody again. On his own, he was actually composed of two apparently incompatible elements. He was ironic and cordial. His indifference was loving. His mind dispensed with belief, yet his heart could not dispense with friendship. A thorough contradiction, for an affection is a conviction. This was his nature. There are men who seem born to be the opposite, the reverse, the counterpart. They are Pollux, Patroclus, Nisus, Eudamidas, Ephestion, Pechmeja. They live only on condition of leaning on another; their names are sequels, only written preceded by the conjunction "and"; their existence is not their own; it is the other side of a destiny not their own. Grantaire was one of these men. He was the reverse of Enjolras.


Enjolras, being a believer, disdained this skeptic, and being sober, scorned this drunkard. He granted him a bit of haughty pity. Grantaire was an unaccepted Pylades. Always treated rudely by Enjolras, harshly repelled, rejected, yet returning, he said of Enjolras, "What a fine statue!"

(p. 657-658, paperback version)

* * *

SAINT-DENIS -- Book One: A Few Pages of History
VI: Enjolras and His Lieutenants

[Enjolras assigns the revolutionaries to go around the city and distribute/collect news of the revolution, to stir up support, etc.]

"[...]There's nobody left."

"Me," said Grantaire, "I'm here."



"You to indoctrinate republicans! You, to warm up, in the name of principles, hearts that have grown cold!"

"Why not?"

"Can you be good for something?"

"But I have a vague ambition in that direction," said Grantaire.

"You don't believe in anything."

"I believe in you."

"Grantaire, do you want to do me a favor?"

"Anything. Polish your boots."

[In which some convincing is done.]

Enjolras thought for a few seconds and gestured like a man making up his mind.

"Grantaire," he said gravely. "I agree to try you. You'll go to the Barriere du Maine."

Grantaire lived in a furnished room quite near the Cafe Musain. He went out and came back in five minutes. He had gone home to put on a Robespierre waistcoat.

"Red," he said as he came in, looking straight at Enjolras.

Then, with the flat of his huge hand, he smoothed the two scarlet points of his waistcoat over his breast.

And, going up to Enjolras, he whispered in his ear, "Don't worry."

He jammed down his hat resolutely and went out.

(p. 855-856, paperback version)

So. I've always found Grantaire's fixation on his charming, beautiful counterpart Enjolras more than a little homoerotic, and I was struck by the pleading, almost pathetic attention-seeking and pledges of affection. He doesn't get this passionate about anybody else, and...well, I think it's cute. Not blatantly queer, but easy to read that way.
24th-Aug-2005 05:24 am (UTC)
This isn't a novel that I've read, but...what a great excerpt. I read it in full. Rejection, depending on how one takes it, can be oh so psychologically SM.
24th-Aug-2005 06:56 am (UTC)
I always thought Grantaire was in love with Enjolras. It's an adorable tragic love triangle; Grantaire may love Enjolras, but Enjolras only loves his patria.
24th-Aug-2005 04:40 pm (UTC)
"His moral spine leaned on that firmness" sounds like a euphemism from a really bad sex scene. Or is it just me?

Brotherly love, how we adore it. I've not read Les Mis, Notre Dame put me off Hugo quite thoroughly. Nice extracts, thanks for posting them.
17th-Jun-2006 01:22 am (UTC)
Yeah, in the Les Mis fandom that's our favourite pairing to speculate on. ^_____________________^ I positively adore Enjolras/Grantaire. As soon as I read it I found it 'more than a little homoerotic' as you put it, but also kind of sad for poor R. I love the passage about their death...that's rather slash-implying, too.
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