A thought about dreaded pairings

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Marianne
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A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Marianne » Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:53 am

So I saw a post in a multifandom LiveJournal community ranting about how people shouldn't get pissy over fic that pairs up two characters who never met. I was about to fire off a comment about Enjolras/Éponine and how yeah, pairings like that have a right to exist, but it's annoying to see them treated as a logical extension of canon, and then it hit me.

This is Les Misérables. Written by Victor Hugo ferchrissakes, a man who delights in making all his characters secretly know each other and bringing them together in forty-coincidence pileups. The fact that Enjolras and Éponine occupy the same city at roughly the same spot in the timeline means it's hugely improbable that they don't know each other.

Which isn't to say that, in a properly-set-up Hugolian coincidence, the way they know each other would necessarily be romance-inducing. Far more likely that, I don't know, Thénardier owed a huge debt to Enjolras Senior in 1824 and Enjolras Senior demanded repayment and that's why the inn shut down, so of course Thénardier bears a grudge and passes it on to his whole family and Éponine and Azelma don't even know who these Enjolras people are, just that they're supposed to hate them.

And maybe Thénardier sees Éponine mooning around being all lovestruck and following dashing revolutionary students around, and she lets slip something about the Friends of the ABC and then the quarry scene happens and Thénardier puts two and two together and figures she's in love with the accursed offspring of Enjolras Senior. And so he follows her to the barricade and passes himself off as a National Guard and ends up being the one shooting her, and then meets a certain white-haired gentleman also dressed as a National Guard lurking around the Rue du Cygne...

Okay this is starting to sound like either a bad fanfic, or Hugo writing fanfiction of his own book. I don't even know if this post has a point, other than to be extremely silly and to point out that in this fandom, any crack pairing can be justified by the appropriate chain of coincidences.
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Lara
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Postby Lara » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:22 am

If all weird pairing fanfics were like this, the internet would be a beautiful place...

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Postby lesmisloony » Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:26 am

Lara wrote:If all weird pairing fanfics were like this, the internet would be a beautiful place...

I agree. My theory is that it's not the pairing that makes me want to die and/or kill, but the way it's brought about. If everyone can keep true to their characters and I don't care who's boinking who, as long as it works.

I love crack pairings.
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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:25 pm

I like crack pairings (and that's not just because I have a sordid history of attempting crack pairings as far out as Theodule/Azelma). But yes, like Loony, I really believe in having a plot to back up the romance.

Apart from logistical/political reasons, there is no actual barrier to stopping various characters from meeting/trysting with each other for a moment or two.
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby MusicalTwin » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:17 pm

I agree with all of you. I'd even be so daring as to claim that the more 'unlikely' a pairing is, the more interesting it CAN be. Of course that still depends on the way it's written. But almost everything CAN be plausible if it's well thought through! Like... I remember reading a brilliant Éponine/Javert fanfic once. Unfortunately I don't remember the title right now. But the own point of view on fanfics is always subjective so there's no point in arguing about that anyway. It's all a matter of taste. And there are definitely stories about crack pairings that I do like and about usual or classic pairings I don't, as well as there are stories about crack pairings I do not like at all and about usual / classic pairings I do. In the end all that matters is whether I like the content of the story and its style or not. No matter what pairing!
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:49 pm

A friend of mine once wrote Thenardier/Georges Pontmercy. I feel everyone needs their brain broken by that :)

But there's a huge difference between crack pairings (like Théodule/Azelma), and dread pairings, like Éponine/Enjolras. The difference being that dread pairings are somehow taken seriously as a way to "clean up" the loose ends, as if everyone needs to be paired up somehow. The same pairing (generally E/E) can be totally justified in utterly cracky ways and thus be a crack pairing. But it's so often a dread pairing that it would be rather difficult to get anyone to read it through the necessary lens rather than expecting "Éponine replaces Marius with the pretty revolutionary who respects her as a child of The People". There's a seriousness of purpose in dread pairings, and that's why they're annoying. They exist to perpetuate a vision of happily-ever-after that the characters may not even subscribe to, much less those parts of the "audience" who are utterly annoyed by the concept of said pairing.

Or maybe I hang around fanficrants too much.
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby merlin_emrys » Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:16 am

I agree, MusicalTwin -- the more ridiculous it is, sometimes, the more fun it can be. In terms of freaky pairings in general, I sort of figure that as long as there's a) an acknowledgement that it's not necessarily plausible and b) some sort of justification for it, I'm OK with almost anything. Even -- and I almost hate to say this -- Enjolras/Éponine. As for Thenardier/Georges Pontmercy, well ... wow. You're right, MmeBahorel, everyone does need their brain broken by it.

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Capitally Drunk
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Capitally Drunk » Sat Dec 05, 2009 4:24 pm

Of all the fandoms I've been involved with the only pairing that still creeps me the hell out is J/JvJ. Someone made me beta-read a fic once, and I took my revenge by writing Thenardier/Marius PWP and flowery, ridiculous Javert/Laigles fluff.

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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Inspector Karamazov » Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:18 pm

I had J/JVJ as well, but I once wrote an Enjolras/Javert smut fic.

And it will never ever be read by anyone. I didn't even type it.
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Falstaff » Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:56 pm

I think the most important element of weird pairings is chemistry between the two characters.

Personally, I find that a convincing explaination for why these two meet and have to spend time together is all well and good, but not nearly as important as having a hook upon which to hang the romance. Have them meet in a bar (figuratively), or at the park, or just on the street; that's fine with me, so long as when they do meet, there's a spark.

I tend to like pairings where a celibate or romantically inexperienced character all of a sudden finds himself in love with someone, so this may just be me. But I'd much rather read about why Éponine (for example) gets Enjolras' (for example) rusty old crank turning when no one before ever has, then about all the hoops they have to jump through to get to know each other.

So, do you guys have any thoughts on making chemistry exist between two characters who never meet in canon?

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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:01 am

I've done that (with the dreaded Éponine/Enjolras). I think that whatever chemistry happens has to be "true" to the characters' personalities. Like for instance: I highly doubt that Enjolras would be attracted to a girl who is a Royalist, or who debases the Patria with her actions, that sort of thing. So in the cases when a weird pairing comes up, the characters have to have a hinge. Or at least develop it over the course of getting to know each other.

Éponine/Enjolras chemistry per se is hard to write. I consider that pairing now as something more along the lines of "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Marianne » Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:55 am

Falstaff wrote:I think the most important element of weird pairings is chemistry between the two characters.

Personally, I find that a convincing explaination for why these two meet and have to spend time together is all well and good, but not nearly as important as having a hook upon which to hang the romance. Have them meet in a bar (figuratively), or at the park, or just on the street; that's fine with me, so long as when they do meet, there's a spark.

I tend to like pairings where a celibate or romantically inexperienced character all of a sudden finds himself in love with someone, so this may just be me. But I'd much rather read about why Éponine (for example) gets Enjolras' (for example) rusty old crank turning when no one before ever has, then about all the hoops they have to jump through to get to know each other.

So, do you guys have any thoughts on making chemistry exist between two characters who never meet in canon?


For me it's the opposite. Chemistry, although the evocation of it can be fun, needs no explanation and often has no explanation in real life; what's really interesting is what the characters do about the attraction.

Or, put in a more Hugo-esque way, "they were in love" needs no explanation besides "they were in love." The one is a complete explanation and justification for the other. "They were lovers," on the other hand, always has a story behind it.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby silverwhistle » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:47 pm

Marianne wrote:So I saw a post in a multifandom LiveJournal community ranting about how people shouldn't get pissy over fic that pairs up two characters who never met. I was about to fire off a comment about Enjolras/Éponine and how yeah, pairings like that have a right to exist, but it's annoying to see them treated as a logical extension of canon, and then it hit me.
This is Les Misérables. Written by Victor Hugo ferchrissakes, a man who delights in making all his characters secretly know each other and bringing them together in forty-coincidence pileups.

Yes! He really makes a habit of it! NDdP is full of this: Esméralda turning out to be Pâquette's lost Agnès just when she's in her mother's clutches and about to be executed; Quasimodo being the gypsy changeling left in place of Agnès; his adoptive father falling for her; her 'husband' being another of Claude's protégés, & c & c… And yet you suspend disbelief in a way that you don't when people do this in fic. (A matter of writing skill, perhaps.)

Okay this is starting to sound like either a bad fanfic, or Hugo writing fanfiction of his own book.

Oh, that it so funny! Victor, Victor…
You know what might be an entertaining plot-bunny: Marius accidentally going into legal practice with his unwitting father-in-law?
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby silverwhistle » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:36 pm

Falstaff wrote:So, do you guys have any thoughts on making chemistry exist between two characters who never meet in canon?

It depends on the circumstances of their meeting: if it's something highly charged (such as one saving the other's life on the barricade), you've got the adrenalin pumping and the excitement, and that heightens people's emotional responses.

It may be that they have friends or acquaintances in common, that can be brought into play. As has been said, the Hugoverse is full of connections and coincidences.That can help people who haven't met before establish a connection, and feel as if they've known each other for longer.
I tend to like pairings where a celibate or romantically inexperienced character all of a sudden finds himself in love with someone, so this may just be me. But I'd much rather read about why Éponine (for example) gets Enjolras' (for example) rusty old crank turning when no one before ever has, then about all the hoops they have to jump through to get to know each other.

I've got something of this kind going (slowly) in my current main Hugo fic (NDdP-based). The characters do already know each other, but it's… well, complicated. A young man who knows (at bitter cost) the price of love, but nothing about sex; a young woman who knows everything about sex but nothing about love (it's a commercial transaction). Both are trying to repair their lives. She has (at this point) quite mercenary designs on him. But what's going to happen will shake both of them.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: A thought about dreaded pairings

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:09 pm

You know what might be an entertaining plot-bunny: Marius accidentally going into legal practice with his unwitting father-in-law?


I think I did something along those lines once in a long fic. Since this was an AU where Jean Valjean was still alive, it didn't take long for Marius to find out how Cosette was connected to Tholomyes...

I was once venting to my parents how some of the laws of coincidence in 19th century fiction cannot be excused (even Dickens is guilty of this in "Oliver Twist"). However it did also occur to me that really, such weird coincidences are possible in real life. This is also taking into consideration the fact that the population of 19th century France was a great deal smaller than that of today, and that people tended to be living in one place for a longer time. Less people, longer timeframes = higher chances of getting to know each other.

And I haven't even factored in the fact that occupations, political affiliations, or even just desperation does make the most unlikely individuals gravitate towards each other, or at least to the same location. Maybe Hugo's coincidences aren't as far out as we think...
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."


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