history geeking ahoy

Charles Marville, photograph of the Rue Mondétour taken from the Rue Rambuteau (former Rue de la Chanverrerie), circa 1865. Another “about as close as we’re gonna get” image of the site of Hugo’s barricade. I think the high-res version has done the rounds on Tumblr before, but damn if I can find it, so here it is again.

Note the lighter horizontal band in the lower half of the picture–that’s not a crease or any other kind of damage. It’s a ghost… or more likely several ghosts. The widened Rue Rambuteau became a busy thoroughfare, and due to the long exposure time on the photograph, any passerby would’ve been reduced to a faint blur at head height.

anonymous asked:

Have you got any classic queer lit recommendations? (would prefer focusing on women, but watevs) I've read mlle de maupin and the girl with the golden eyes, loved them both, but I'm struggling to come up with more than that :(

Hmmm, let’s see! Focusing in on Romantic-era French lit here because that’s the closest thing I have to an area of expertise:

  • That Eugénie Danglars subplot in The Count of Monte Cristo is p. much Textual Lesbians All Over (and there are also some shenanigans with crossdressing bandits near the beginning), just make sure to pick up an unabridged edition because for mysterious unaccountable reasons it’s always one of the first things to be cut
  • I… haven’t actually read Balzac's Cousin Bette (or its male counterpart, Cousin Pons), but I’ve been assured on good authority that both of them are pretty fuckin’ gay
  • George Sand wrote a play, Gabriel, about a girl raised as a boy. The first act is played straight (no pun intended) according to the grand theatrical traditions of “male protag meets female protag while she’s in drag, falls for her anyway, freaks out, and then all is revealed and they’re happily married off.” The second act is an Into the Woods-style deconstruction where Gabriel(le)… um… doesn’t adjust very well to the role of ‘wife,’ and things go downhill from there. IDK if it’s available in English translation anywhere. :(
  • Sand's Lélia is kind of queer-adjacent–it is very much about the shit roles available for women, traditional marriage as a respectable form of prostitution, and the stunting of female desire in a culture where love is dominated by male violence and possession. The discussions of 'frigidity’ are mostly relevant to asexuality, but it was also scandalous at the time for some minor but very suggestive scenes between two sisters.
  • I feel kind of crass putting Gamiani on this list, because it’s terribad Evil Lesbians porn that Alfred de Musset 'anonymously’ wrote while he was on the outs with George Sand… but on the other hand the French Romantics writing RPF about each other will never not be entertaining.
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner's Summer Will Show was written in the 1930s but set during the revolution of 1848, and stars an independent but rather staid Englishwoman who moves to Paris and proceeds to fall in love with her husband’s mistress, a Jewish revolutionary half-actress half-strumpet wild child.
  • Okay fine I know it has absolutely fuckall to do with the French Romantics, but if you haven’t read The Well of Loneliness yet you should totally do it

That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head for female-centric lit (besides a couple of poems in Les Fleurs du Mal, “Lesbos” and “The Damned Women”). For textual male gay, the gold star recommendation will always be Balzac’s Vautrin trilogy, Old Goriot, Lost Illusions, and A Harlot High and Low–featuring the most magnificent bastard of them all, who has a taste for Faustian bargains with pretty young men. For not-all-that-subtextual male gay in prison, check out Hugo's Claude Gueux.

If you want androgyny and genderfuck the offerings are a little more obscure–there’s the aforementioned Gabriel, Balzac’s short stories Sarrasine (about a painter who falls for a castrato who’s living as a woman) and Séraphîta (which I have not read, but is apparently weird and philosophical in its approach to androgyny), and a poorly written but historically interesting novel by Henri de Latouche called Fragoletta, whose title character is intersex. The Balzac ones miiiight be available in English somewhere; Fragoletta isn’t easy to find even in French.

Also, if you’re interested in alienation-from-society angst and repression so thick it has to erase the actual subject of its anxiety and make it into a cipher, hoo boy have I got some stories to tell you about the 1820s Romantics. Nobody in these books is actually gay, but… well. The whole thing got set off when the Marquis de Custine broke off a promising engagement for reasons that looked completely inexplicable at the time. (Spoilers: he was flamingly gay. He wasn’t publicly outed until some years later, but man, he was gay as a sunny June morning.)

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…before anyone gets too happy about the everybody-lives!AU potential of Charles Jeanne’s improbable survival story, I feel duty-bound to note that the retreat into the Corinthe and ensuing massacre were also based on the actual events of June 1832. Jeanne and his ten-man suicide charge were a tiny minority of the combatants; several dozen insurgents thought it was a better plan to retreat into the apartment building they’d been using as headquarters, using the stairwells as a sheltered position to pick off the assailants as they tried to come up. It wasn’t a bad plan, necessarily. The success of Jeanne’s charge was a fluke that caught even him by surprise, and the rest of the insurgents managed to hold the building for over an hour, gradually being driven further and further up the stairs. A bunch of them made it to the roof and parkoured their way to safety, so for them it turned out to be a pretty good plan. But the ones who stayed and fought to the bitter end eventually surrendered to the army, who agreed to take them into custody if they’d come quietly.

What happened next was disputed during the trial; there were definitely summary executions, some of them insurgents who’d been hiding in the residents’ apartments trying to avoid arrest, some of them insurgents who’d already surrendered. It’s also almost certain that the army and the National Guard were at loggerheads: the professional soldiers were trying to take prisoners, but the National Guard was a citizens’ militia made up of property-holders whose animosity towards the rebels was personal, vicious, and class-based. Hugo was cleaning up and romanticizing historical events considerably by giving Enjolras and Grantaire anything so dignified as a firing squad; there were reports of captured insurgents being messily stabbed to death with bayonets, left to die of gut wounds, or pitched out of fourth-floor windows by guardsmen making “heads or tails?” jokes about whether they’d hit the ground face-up or face-down. It was gruesome as hell, and unlike the Rue Transnonain massacre in a revolt two years later, the brutality was largely ignored outside the radical press because it was directed at actual combatants rather than civilians suspected of sheltering them.

So yeah. Charles Jeanne and half a dozen other crazy bastards miraculously survived their suicide-by-soldiers stunt, and you could totally use that incident as the basis for an everybody-lives AU. But unfortunately, that is not a term that could be used to describe the actual history of Saint-Merry and June 1832.

storytellerluna  asked:

I've just read through your translation of Charles Jeanne's letter to his sister from prison, and I just want to say WOW, and THANK YOU SO MUCH. Seriously, I have been looking for information about the actual June Rebellion, couldn't find much on Jeanne, and your blog is fantastic, merci beaucoup!!

You’re welcome!

You might also want to check out my website if you haven’t already–it has a bunch of other accounts of the June rebellion, as well as maps and pictures of pre-Haussmann Paris.

(Note to self: dear God, self, proofreading the OCR on your copy of Jeanne’s trial is not actually that much work. You should maybe finish it sometime in the next year. Also, weren’t you going to do something more interesting with all those Marville photos than just dump them wholesale on your website? Like oh, say, adding the relevant ones to the tour guide or something.)

AHEM. Anyway. Speaking of incredibly valuable primary sources, the transcript of Jeanne’s trial is long as balls and I haven’t been able to work myself up to translating even excerpts of it, but if any other bilingual or semi-bilingual fans want to take a crack at it, you’d be doing an immense public service–it’s the first primary source most historians turn to for details on the June 1832 revolt and AFAIK it’s never been translated into English. If accuracy is an issue, I’d be happy to proofread yours or advise you on the difficult spots. And, of course, I’d link the hell out of it from this blog.

pxriit-a  asked:

Thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU. I was losing all hope in finding any information on it. I have to go scrounge through my school library and attempt to find anything on the rebellion in at least an encyclopedia because they don't have a single book on it in any of the schools in my district so thank you for giving me the start :3

You’re welcome! As far as I know, the only books entirely devoted to the June 1832 uprising are in French (Bouchet's Le Roi et les barricades, Sayre & Löwy's L'insurrection des Misérables, Jeanne’s letter and Bouchet’s commentary in À cinq heures nous serons tous morts). But if you can get Jill Harsin's Barricades or Mark Traugott's The Insurgent Barricade through inter-library loan, both of them have sections that deal with June 1832 in detail. You might also want to see if you can find Louis Blanc's History of Ten Years.