Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To Resist, or, RoseE in the Sexiest Piece of Clothing of All Time

"Will you come along quietly, or do you intend to resist?"

"Well, don't be stupid! Of course we intend to resist! Just give us a moment, all right?"

Wandered through some novels today.

I started my day feeling very glad I'd decided to do this trip by myself, as it'd be hard to talk someone into coming to see the Musée des Egouts de Paris. Yes, it was smelly. Bring a handkerchief, preferably with a drop or two of perfume in it. Super interesting, though. For instance, do you know that they clean a lot of the larger tunnels by floating a giant wooden ball down them? Like these. See, the ball floats, and since it's blocking most of the tunnel, the water managing to get underneath it is super pressurized from the buildup of water behind it, so it basically hoses the sand and sediment off the bottom of the tunnel.

I feel that this system might bring us some great insight into what was actually going on in that first sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Look what they found in the sewers:

Swords. Whoops.

Did you know that Victor Hugo was pals with one of the sewer system engineers, and in consequence his portrayal of the network in Les Mis is entirely geographically correct, and Jean even takes the most direct and efficient route from the barricade to Marius's grandfather's house?

So all in all, extremely interesting. Smelly, yes, but educational.

After emerging from the sewer system, I headed up the river a bit to Les Invalides. OH MY GOSH GUESS WHAT IS GOING ON AT LES INVALIDES RIGHT NOW?!?

An exhibit on the Musketeers. Oh, YEAH.

Manuscript copy of T3M on your left there. As in, the handwritten first draft. The real thing.

First edition of first serialized chapter, right here. D'Artagnan riding into town on his horrible decrepit horse right there at the bottom of the third column.


Aside from my slack-jawed fangirling, my higher brain functions managed to note that it was, in fact, an extremely well-researched and -constructed exhibit. It roughly followed the plot of Alexandre Dumas' three Musketeer novels,* using them as a frame in which to contextualize actual historical content. Like who the actual historical musketeers were and what their uniforms looked like and how they were deployed in military contexts and who was in charge of them, and what Queen Anne's diamond studs would have looked like, and who Milady de Winter might be based on. It was really, really cool. And all about masked prisoners and the political careers of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin and the construction of the Hotel de Ville . . . and, of course, the long life and distinguished military service of the real Captain d'Artagnan.

So here's a picture of me in the sexiest piece of clothing that has ever been created in all of history or fiction. You can keep your loosened cravats, your wet linen shirts, your swishy capes and long dramatic coats . . . even your stetsons, fedoras, fezes and bow ties. Give me a man in musketeer blue, and I am conquered. And glad to be so.

At length, I went to explore the rest of Les Invalides, including checking to make sure Napoleon was still there. He still was.

I have a vague memory of reading about one of the honored daughters of the Shannon family (possibly Lydia?) causing a scene in this very room because she was convinced the tomb was made of chocolate and was determined to eat it or die trying. Well, the girl's got a case. And once the idea has crossed your mind, you can't un-see it. It's totally chocolate. I mean, actually it's marble, but . . .

And then I went poking around the World Wars, and picked up some cool info about the French Resistance. (Warning: next paragraph is very sad. Skip if necessary, down to the folding motorcycle.)

The letter reads:

"Dear parents,

"My letter will cause you great pain, but I have seen you so full of courage that I don't doubt, you will want to keep it, if only for love of me.

"In my cell, I suffered from being unable to see you ever again, to never feel upon me your tender care, except from far away. During these eighty-seven days of confinement, I've missed your love.

"Thank everyone who's been interested in me . . . tell them of my confidence in eternal France. Give big hugs to my grandparents, my uncles, aunts, cousins, Henriette . . .

"I'm dying for my country. I want a free France and happy French. I am keeping my courage and good humor right up until the end, and I'll sing "Sambre et Meuse" because it was you, my dear little mother, who taught it to me.

"The soldiers are coming to fetch me. I await their step anxiously. My writing might look shaky, but that's because I have a short pencil. I'm not afraid of death. I'm dying voluntarily for my country. (...) Goodbye, death is calling me. I won't need to be blindfolded, or tied.

"I love you all. It's hard to die, after all. Thousand kisses!

"Vive la France!"

Henri Fertet. He was imprisoned and executed for his activity with the French Resistance. He was sixteen.

On a much less solemn note, please enjoy this folding motorcycle, dropped in by parachute in a capsule-thing, all ready to go for the invasion. This is the silliest and yet most awesome vehicle ever.

Also, due to weird formatting, you may be seeing a very large picture of two tourists dancing in the rain in the courtyard of Les Invalides. It's a good picture, even if I can't fix its position or size.

*The capitalization here is correct. Dumas wrote three novels about musketeers. One of them was called The Three Musketeers, which makes that sentence a little difficult, but there are in fact two sequels, Ten Years After (which I have not read) and The Man in the Iron Mask (which I have).

1 comment:

  1. How cool is that? A Musée des Egouts in Paris! I never knew. Now I have to go back and see it all. I'm thankful you didn't eat all that chocolate; you would have been sick for the rest of the trip. The poor Resistance Boy, and his poor, poor family. To get a letter like that . . . . I don't think I could go on after a letter like that from a child. The pics are all fabulous; even the Extremely Large one makes the dancing people look so insignificant, and yet significant in their actions.