montagnarde1793: (Augustin)

There are now 1 1/2 books on Le Bas. (I guess I can't call the original "That Book About Le Bas" any more. "That Book Entirely About Le Bas," perhaps? I mean, there's a lot about Robespierre and Saint-Just and the Duplays in there too, so it's not entirely accurate, but close enough, right?)

...Remind me to buy that book as soon as I get to France. Not that I'll likely need it. I'll probably be in something of a book-buying frenzy. >.>;

I guess this means Augustin now also has 1 1/2 books about him (unless there are others I don't know about). Interesting. I'm glad someone's writing about them, poor neglected things.

Apologies, Le Bas, for not using my icon of you, but I never have an opportunity to use this one... Next time.


Thursday, 21 May 2009 19:59
montagnarde1793: (babet/lebas)

I was just going through my old entries, and apparently, of the thirteen books I was reading in November of 2006, I've only finished three (à savoir, Émile, Mathiez's Études sur Robespierre, and The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France. I suppose it doesn't help that I've come fairly close to finishing several of the others...?

I should also mention: I'm back to translating That Book About Le Bas, so you should expect the rest of that to be posted soon. :D

For reference

Thursday, 7 August 2008 00:00
montagnarde1793: (la douce melancolie)

Ah! mes amis... Just to remind you that I haven't fallen off the face of the planet, I bring you my handy height-conversion chart. :D

As you may or may not know, the pre-metric French system of measures, while having such terms as "pieds," does not correspond to the current American system using such measurements as "feet." One "pied" is actually equivalent to 1.066 feet (while 1 pouce = 1.066 inches or 2.707 cm). While this may not seem like a huge amount, it makes quite a difference when it comes to height.

You'll recall, for example, that Le Bas's passport lists his height as 5'6", however, given that this is in pieds and pouces rather than feet and inches, this is a rather misleading statistic for those of us used to the latter system. Le Bas may have been 5 pieds 6 pouces, but he was 5 feet 10.3 inches (178.662 cm)--at a time when the average height was about 5'6" (and that in feet and inches). In other words, Le Bas was on the tall side, and would fit in rather nicely today, heightwise.

This also leads to the resolution of such persistent myths as that of Bonaparte's supposed "shortness"; at 5 pieds 2 pouces, he was nowhere near the height of Le Bas, but was in fact quite average for the time, coming in at 5 feet 6.1 inches (167.834 cm).

Having noted two particular examples, I leave you with a potentially useful height conversion chart, calculated by myself:

5 pieds = 162.42 cm = 63.9 inches = 5'3.9"
5 pieds 1 pouce = 165.127 cm = 65 in = 5'5"
5 pieds 2 pouces = 167.834 cm = 66.1 in = 5'6.1"
5 pieds 3 pouces = 170.541 cm = 67.1 in = 5'7.1"
5 pieds 4 pouces = 173.248 cm = 68.2 in = 5'8.2"
5 pieds 5 pouces = 175.955 cm = 69.3 in = 5'9.3"
5 pieds 6 pouces = 178.662 cm = 70.3 in = 5'10.3"
5 pieds 7 pouces = 181.369 cm = 71.4 in = 5'11.4"
5 pieds 8 pouces = 184.076 cm = 72.5 in = 6'0.5"
5 pieds 9 pouces = 186.783 cm = 73.5 in = 6'1.5"
5 pieds 10 pouces = 189.49 cm = 74.6 in = 6'2.6"
5 pieds 11 pouces = 192.197 cm = 75.7 in = 6'3.7"
6 pieds = 194.907 cm = 76.7 in = 6'4.7"

In other news, today I got my teeth cleaned and went to a used booketore, wherein I found a collection of Corneille plays and a book on 18th century French furniture, both of which I duly purchased. Nothing else much exciting has occured that I can recall. Except that my translation of Gallo's Open Letter should be ready for posting soon.

montagnarde1793: (OMSBWTF?)
...I've merely been away visiting some relatives and have been fairly tired since my return. Some quick points of interest in my life of the past several days:

- I finished Sophie Wahnich's La liberté ou la mort : essai sur la Terreur et le terrorisme - admittedly, not a very impressive feat, since it's scarcely more than a hundred pages, though she does manage to pack more into them than most authors do in five hundred - and I highly recommend it. Her thesis on Revolutionary violence and legitimacy is one of the better ones I've read: that is, one of the few that have made any sense and taken all facts into account. I can't wait to read her more recently published La longue patience du peuple. In the meanwhile, I'm keeping busy enough with Vovelle's Combats pour la Révolution française, Martin's Violence et Révolution, and the third volume of Margerit's series of novels, La Révolution : Un vent d'acier. More on those when I finish them, though don't expect reviews, properly speaking.

- This weekend I saw Puccini's "Tosca," which I liked, but not unequivocally. Quite frankly, it confused me. Obviously not in the main plot points: you'd have to be really quite daft to support sadistic reactionary police chiefs against heroic Italian Revolutionaries. 

That said, I was somewhat surprised to learn that the original play "La Tosca" was by Victorien Sardou. You know, the one who once met Babet Le Bas and later attempted to discredit her memoirs by saying that sentiment must have distorted her view of Maxime. And other less than shiny things like that. >__< I had definitely had him chalked down for a reactionary, considering he also wrote a play on Thermidor that was so virulently counterrevolutionary that it was shut down by popular demand after two performances. 

Which is why I can't say I understand how he could have written "La Tosca"--unless I have it all wrong and we're supposed to be cheering for the authoritarian police chief who has no problem with torturing, manipulating, and killing people...?

Unless Puccini turned it around. But that seems unlikely somehow, since Puccini pretty much tried to take the politics of the original play out of the opera as much as possible. For Puccini the politics is really a pretext for the emotional drama in any case... Well, you can see why I found it confusing at least, I trust. -___-;

- In other opera-related news. I got Méhul's "L'Irato ou l'emporté." It's unfortunately one of his later operas (1800), so it's not quite as nice to listen to as say, "Stratonice" (1792), although that's perhaps an unfair comparison, since "Stratonice" is supposed to be his best work overall (not counting his Revolutionary hymns, of course :P). In any case, the particular thing about this opera I though was worth mentioning is that it keeps making horrible suicide jokes. I'm really not sure why--I suppose it might be one more thing we can blame on the Thermidorians though. Seriously, there's a whole aria in which one of the characters contemplates suicide because, after all, that's "what one does in such situations." *headdesk* And of course the music to said aria is very nice and catchy. -__-;;

- Another thing: I have found one of the most odious books in existence: it's called "50 Reasons to Hate the French" and I don't remember who it's by, exactly, though, suffice it to say, both authors are from the Perfidious Albion. Basically (and I'm not exaggerating in the slightest here) their argument amounts to: "Hate the French because [insert an entire book full of lies, distortions, and insalubrious smugness] and they've always hate the English." It's dedicated to a certain fictional character by the name of "Percy Blakeney"--that is to say, to the Scarlet Pimpernel. As you can guess, it's filled with all the usual garbage concerning the Revolution and all those involved in it, the Marseillaise, and, in a long series of essays, each more worthless than the last, everything that makes France French. Just. Kill me. Now. D:!

- Perhaps more seriously - since I would hope no one really takes the above seriously - another book I found. You, in particular, are bound to love this one, [profile] maelicia. It's called The Pursuit of Glory: The Five Revolutoins that Made Modern Europe: 1648-1815 and, unsurprisingly, it's by another "historian" from the Perfidious Albion, by the name of Tim Blanning. The reason that this one is more unfortunate is this: it receives highest praise from every English-language newspaper (the New York Times calls it "History writing at its glorious best") and worse still, it made the New York Times bestseller list, which means, if people aren't reading it, they're at least buying it.

And now for the reason that should be considered a Very. Bad. Thing. Here are some quotes from the book:

Page 345: "[...] Back in Paris, the regime was busy eliminating opponents on both right and left. Although its leaders, most notably Robespierre, presented their terrorist* laws in the language of reason, humanity and liberty, this was essentially a criminal exercise. Only when the rule of law had been suspended could psychopaths such as the public prosecutor Fouquier-Tinville, or Robespierre's most glamourous and dangerous henchman Saint-Just, emerge to inflict their dark fantasies on their fellow human beings."

Or this gem, which seems to use the same logic as the above mentioned book, as well as neatly twisting the facts (and Maxime's words) around 180 degrees, to portray Maxime as an imperialist: Page 650: "[...] Robespierre was not alone in thinking that the French people had outstripped the rest of the human race by two millennia and now constituted what amounted to a different species. This kind of arrogance [emphasis mine], which also expressed itself in a rigourously Francophone policy [One hardly imagines that he would denigrate a "rigourously Anglophone policy in a similar context] towards the occupied territories, naturally provoked a strong reaction. [...]"

*You might recall that the word terroriste was coined by the Thermidorians after the fact. Talk about uncritically appropriating the partisan vocabulary of historical figures!

And he goes on, of course, but it's not really worth your time to read any more, or mine to type it. The other really enraging thing about it, is he took this beautiful Revolutionary frame with the allegories and the republican martyrs and the eye of the Supreme Being and all of that for his cover. Just to completely trash everything represented by it. So. Not. Fucking. Okay. D:<

- One more thing: you might be amused to know, in a sick fashion, admittedly, that the Robert Olen Butler, the author of that charming book on the thoughts of severed heads, now has another book out, on the same model, only this time, his subject is the interior monologues of famous couples having sex. The amusing thing to note is that while, of course Capet and Antoinette are in both books, revolutionaries are only worth mentioning when they get beheaded. Besides, Everyone Knows, Revolutionaries Don't Have Sex. Not that I'm complaining: far from it, since the portraits of those portrayed in either book could hardly be imagined in a less flattering fashion (the highlight of the book - or lowlight, depending on your perspective - is the thought's of Joséphine's dog on its mistress in bed with Bonaparte. I must say ,as far as that goes, I wasn't quite sure whether to be revolted or amused - perhaps a combination of the two is most appropriate).

...I think next time I'll just post more from That Book About Le Bas. >.> In the meantime, I really should have put this behind a cut, but I post rarely enough that you can deal with some spam from time to time, am I right? :P

I'm back

Monday, 18 February 2008 19:32
montagnarde1793: (Maxime)
In case anyone was wondering why I haven't replied to comments and posts and such for the past few days, it's because I was in Portland and had extremely limited computer access. Now that I'm back I'll try to reply to all comments and posts as soon as possible (that should be by the end of the day tomorrow).

I spent most of the time I was in Portland in the very large used bookstore there, Powell's. Very large can sometimes mean exaggerations of unfortunate phenomena in smaller bookstores though (for example, in terms of biographies in the French History section: there were no fewer than *eighteen* different books (and I don't mean copies) on Antoinette--and comparable numbers for Louis XIV and Bonaparte, though at least those are understandable, since they had a rather large historical impact, but *Antoinette*?! Really, it's just pathetic. >__> As far as other people from the Revolutionary period go, there were the usual ten or so on La Fayette, one on Vergniaud, one on Marat, three on Robespierre (Scurr, Thompson, and that new collection of speeches that just came out)... and that's it. 

...I don't suppose it's any wonder that people think the three most important people in French history are Louis XIV, Bonaparte, and Antoinette, with secondary roles for La Fayette and Richelieu (there were about as many books on him as La Fayette). And I suppose they are all more or less important, even if I don't like them. Or most of them, anyway. Where the hell does Antoinette come in though? Antoinette =/= important. At all. >:(

Oh, and I found out a few random Danton-related things (quite by accident, as you can imagine). The first is that, as Maelicia mentioned a while back, Danton apparently, um, read Justine. It would seem that it's Restif de la Bretonne who says as much--though I really don't want to know how he would know that. O_O; Also, that painting that's commonly assumed to be of Danton's second wife? There's no proof of that, apparently; some guy who owned it in the late 19th century claimed that it *must* be of her because it was from the same era and it kind of resembled a miniature of her. Random 19th century people can be really unintelligent sometimes.

And before I end this rambling and somewhat pointless post, I'll also mention that I read the chapter about Robespierre in de Baecque's book on seven deaths during the Revolution. My only comment on this really is that, while I don't disagree with his analysis, it was very difficult to read. ;____; Seriously, I barely got through it.

And....more books!

Thursday, 17 May 2007 16:09
montagnarde1793: (colored bust)
I've decided (because I'm decidedly lazy), that I'm just going to list the rest of the books I had intended to post about. That way, if people have questions or want more explanation, they can comment. So, with that end in mind, books will be listed as follows, with a couple of exceptions: with title, author, year of publication, and perhaps a note. Also, if any of them begins with a quote I'll post that too, because one can tell a lot about a book by the quote--if any--it starts with, if not by its cover. (Failing the quote, if they're dedicated to any historical figure or historian I'll note that too, for much the same reason.

Again, if anyone wants anything translated or elaborated on (for example, in the case of the contents of several of these books which are rather broad), feel free to ask. :D
montagnarde1793: (colored bust)

Well, I thought, it's been a while since I've posted on a completely useless and vapid topic ( all), and so...

My computer crashed: fortunately there are other computers I can use, but that one has all my music and all my documents on it, so it's very annoying that it's currently non-existant, for all intents and purposes. I do hope I don't lose the information stored in said computer--including all the translation projects I've been working on for months now.

And now the (always fun) list of books I am currently reading (in no particular order):

The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France
The Golden Ass
Radicals: Politics and Republicanism in the French Revolution
Mathiez's history of the Revolution
The New Regime: Transformations of the French Civic Order, 1789-1820s
Night Watch
Old Age in the Old Regime: Image and Experience in Eighteenth-Century France
A History of Everyday Things: The Birth of Consumption in France, 1600-1800
Robespierre: Etudes sur Robespierre par Albert Mathiez
The European Dream
(and a bunch of other things I started reading at some point and still need to finish but have been placed back on the bookshelves)

Edit: also Notre-Dame de Paris

...I do *not* have a lack of focus. Shut up. >___<

And yes, as a reminder, this post had no point. Except perhaps to inform you all that I haven't died. 

Book meme

Saturday, 28 January 2006 11:46
montagnarde1793: (Default)
Book meme. )


montagnarde1793: (Default)

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