June 6th, guys. The real reason for this entire week. 181 year ago, today, the streets of Paris were filled with fighting and by one o'clock in the afternoon, all the fighting was basically over. There's a book called The Insurgent Barricade and in it, the author says - “The casualty toll among the insurgents, mounting as high as 800 dead and wounded, was particularly heavy because the people of Paris withheld their support, leaving most of the committed insurgents of June 1832 to pay for their rebellion with their lives.” If the people of Paris had risen up and helped the barricade defenders, the insurrection might have taken a completely different turn. But in the brick, Victor Hugo illustrated the peoples' opinions toward the insurgents.
"What do these people want? What have they come there to do? Let them get out of the scrape. So much the worse for them. It is their fault. They are only getting what they deserve. It does not concern us. Here is our poor street all riddled with balls. They are a pack of rascals. Above all things, don't open the door." ~ Volume 4, Book 1, Chapter XX. The Dead Are in the Right and the Living Are Not in the Wrong
What some people might not know, is that Victor Hugo actually witnessed the fighting at the barricades. He probably saw things happen there that he recorded in the brick. He was there for about half an hour - and since barricade fighting is intense and fast-paced, he could have seen a lot of things that he used for Les Miserables.
An observer, the marveling author of these lines, who had gone to witness the upheaval at first hand, found himself caught between two fires, with nothing but the half-pillars separating the shops to protect him from the bullets. He was pinned in this unhappy position for nearly half an hour.
I also read in a book about Les Mis that Victor Hugo read a non-fiction book that had two characters in it that died the same way Gavroche and Enjolras did. The book said that he took those characters and gave them names, back stories, etc., and put them in his novel.
The barricade boys weren't just fiction - they were based on different, real-life circumstances and people. And I don't know whether that makes me sad or happy.
Just to end this post on a less-than-sad note, June 6th, 1832 is also the first anniversary of my obsession with Les Mis. I discovered it exactly one year ago (thanks to Amy and Petie). Back then, I didn't know anything about Les Mis. I shipped Marius and Eponine, didn't like Cosette, didn't really understand the plot ('cause my introduction was the 10th and that's rather shaky when it comes to plot). When I look back and see how far I've come...it's sort of funny how much I've changed since then :)
Vive Les Miserables!