Thursday, August 19, 2010


Jean Valjean is in the Paris sewer system. And so is my nominee for Best Inanimate Object in World Literature: the scrap of Marat's shroud that's said (said--by anyone other than Victor Hugo? I don't know) to have been discovered hanging from a broken hinge of a long-gone grating at a mouth of the Grand Sewer--and then, once recognized (uh-huh), left in place--by Bruneseau's salutary expedition of 1805-1812. Marius is down there too but he's unconscious. The suspense I feel is very great: after thirty years of further rotting in the midst of major construction, is the scrap--the "morsel" as Isabel F. Hapgood translates it--or any part of it still there? (Morceau, it must be.) And if it is, will they see it? I'll have to be reading so carefully now!

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