Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

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Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Frédérique » Mon May 03, 2010 5:09 pm

... in obscure 1917 book.
Ella R. Shaeffer, "The Drama of the Ages". Remember Paul Adam and his published Hugo/Balzac crossover fic? This book is at least as bizarre, but in an altogether less adorable way.

What we have here is an ostensibly rather ambitious project covering 'more than four thousand years of time', bringing 'to view the fact of one continued conflict throughout all the ages'. Note also that 'the following pages are for the most part authentic history'. It features, amongst other things, a demoiselle called Evadne (like the one whose bare throat would not have moved Enjolras) and her beloved, a 1830s law student named Jehan, who is associated with a group called the A. B. Z., which, following Lamarque's funeral, builds a barricade in the Rue de la Hanverie. Yes. Now look at this (taken from a chapter called "Passing Gleams"):

All at once he mounted a stone post; he threw back his head, his abundant dark locks fell back like the mane of a startled lion in the flaming of a halo; a sort of stifled fire darted from his eyes which were filled with an inward look.


The sentence structure's moved around, the hair colour has changed (chacun à son goût), but still I doubt that 'like the mane of a startled lion in the flaming of a halo' was an awfully popular comparison back in the day. No, the passage is certainly a twin of this:

A sort of stifled fire darted from his eyes, which were filled with an inward look. All at once he threw back his head, his blond locks fell back like those of an angel on the sombre quadriga made of stars, they were like the mane of a startled lion in the flaming of an halo [...]


and you can actually find half-sentences of I. F. Hapgood's Les Mis translation in every other sentence - the above is immediately preceded by a variation on

The situation of all in that fatal hour and that pitiless place, had as result and culminating point Enjolras' supreme melancholy.


namely

The situation of Jehan in that fatal hour and pitiless place, had as a result a culminating point in the supreme sadness of his lost love.


(Evadne's mother, having found out that Jehan is 'a profane irreligious youth' who has been seen 'deliberating with the revolutionists', has informed her that they can never marry, so she, in turn, informed him that they must part forever. Evadne later appears at the barricades in male attire, as far as I can gather.) Jehan then proceeds to give a long speech which is a sort of mixture between this bit from "The Extreme Edge":

Down with the tyrant! Of whom are you speaking? Do you call Louis Philippe the tyrant? No; no more than Louis XVI. Both of them are what history is in the habit of calling good kings; but principles are not to be parcelled out, the logic of the true is rectilinear, the peculiarity of truth is that it lacks complaisance; no concessions, then; all encroachments on man should be repressed. There is a divine right in Louis XVI., there is because a Bourbon in Louis Philippe; both represent in a certain measure the confiscation of right, and, in order to clear away universal insurrection, they must be combated; it must be done, France being always the one to begin.

and bits and pieces from the Declaration of Independence (there is at least one scene in which Jehan, seeking to defeat his Supreme Sadness etc., closed his eyes and thought of America, so to speak) eventually leading into an adaptation of Enjolras' own speech again mixed with earlier parts (e.g. 'Love, thine is the future' from the Le Cabuc scene). Is it a madlib? Is it postmodern collage art? There are several other non-barricadous chapters which I have only skimmed so far but which definitely likewise feature Misérable passages; the "Evadne" chapter includes chunks of "Waterloo", pieces on Evadne's and Jehan's romance that smell more than a little of Marius and Cosette (also, there is a sub-chapter called "Shadows and Desolations", compare with "Enchantments and Desolations") as well as Jehan's relations with a semi-Courfeyrac called Charles (who is re-encountered on June 5 leading a pack of students and shouting 'Ho-hee!', and who gets some Enjolras moments, too, such as that in which he informs the rest that 'there is nothing to expect; nothing to hope for, neither from a faubourg nor from a regiment, you are abandoned' - taken verbatim from Hapgood's "Light and Shadow"):

In this law school was a young man who belonged to the A. B. Z., his name was Charles. Now Jehan and Charles became fast freinds. There is in the soul of some youth that innocent, that magnificent something, in the presence of which political opinions and religious prejudice appear very petty and mean. The first time Jehan and Charles looked at each other, their countenances chattered and told all [...]


comparable with the way Marius appears to Courfeyrac (and/or vice versa):

In a few days, Marius had become Courfeyrac's friend. [...] There are young men of whom it can be said that their countenances chatter.


In case you were wondering, incidentally,

There was one group of minds more serious, not organized, all young men, the direct sons of the Revolution. It mattered not to them what their parents were; royalists, Bonapartists, Liberals or Democrats; they attached themselves without an intermediate shade, to incorruptible right, and to absolute duty. They fathomed principles, they longed for the absolute. The pure blood of principle flowed in their veins. They caught glimpses of infinite realities, the absolute by its very rigidty urges the mind towards the skies, and makes it soar in the boundless. This group often solicited Monsieur Cammille to speak to them which was a great pleasure to him.
This group was designated the A. B. Z.


which is close to

Other groups of minds were more serious. In that direction, they sounded principles, they attached themselves to the right. They grew enthusiastic for the absolute, they caught glimpses of infinite realizations; the absolute, by its very rigidity, urges spirits towards the sky and causes them to float in illimitable space.


(perhaps this was ripping off another translation, Wilbour's, maybe?)

and in the earlier "An Illustrious Frenchman" (the man in question being that Monsieur Cammille, who is also Evadne's father), it says

In 1817 Monsieur Henri Cammille, who lived in Paris, was at that age when men who think have great depth and ingenuousness.


which is what Hugo likes to tell us about Marius:

He was at that period of life when the mind of men who think is composed, in nearly equal parts, of depth and ingenuousness.


and then it just stops making any sense whatsoever:

At the time of a profound and powerful movement made essential by the study of the Middle Ages, Monsieur Cammille read the histories, the memoirs, the bulletins, the proclamations; he devoured everything [...]


being a composition of Jehan (ours, that is):

petty momentary freak which mingled with the powerful and profound movement whence sprang the very essential study of the Middle Ages


and again Marius:

He read the Moniteur, he read all the histories of the Republic and the Empire, the Memorial de Sainte-Helene, all the memoirs, all the newspapers, the bulletins, the proclamations; he devoured everything.


What is fascinating is that it isn't a coherent block of stolen next with names (and hair colours) replaced but all these stolen half-phrases stirred and shaken and sprinkled all over the place. It's as if ... as if Thénardier had decided to clean up Combeferre's apartment after the barricade, found his manuscript for "Les Misérables", and, rearranging the scraps as he saw fit and adding a few gratuitous touches of dimestore sentiment in honour of his late wife, decided to make his own career in socially and philosophically aware literature. (This would also explain why 'ABC' became 'ABZ'.)

ETA: OH AND ALSO Jehan's royalist father is called Lenormand or Lenormond.

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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Col.Despard » Mon May 03, 2010 10:08 pm

Oh, this is excellent! I love it! I'm seeing a whole slew of barricades going up in 1832, all led by charismatic if somewhat sad (but hot!) young leaders who tend to toss back their lion-like manes of hair, albeit manes of different colours (ooooo...the red haired one would be something...although chestnut locks would be good as well...). Amused at how Enjolras' engagement with the abstract is reduced to "sniff...I can't marry my girlfriend!" The conflation of Marius and Enjolras never ceases to bemuse me.

I suppose we could just blame the seductive powers of The Hair, working their controlling tendrils into someone else.

When was this magnificent work published?
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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Tue May 04, 2010 2:34 am

How interesting! Perhaps the first Les Mis fanfic?! It's so similar that when i was reading the excerpts you posted, i wasn't sure if they were Les Mis or not, especially this one

Frédérique wrote:There was one group of minds more serious, not organized, all young men, the direct sons of the Revolution. It mattered not to them what their parents were; royalists, Bonapartists, Liberals or Democrats; they attached themselves without an intermediate shade, to incorruptible right, and to absolute duty. They fathomed principles, they longed for the absolute. The pure blood of principle flowed in their veins. They caught glimpses of infinite realities, the absolute by its very rigidty urges the mind towards the skies, and makes it soar in the boundless. This group often solicited Monsieur Cammille to speak to them which was a great pleasure to him.
This group was designated the A. B. Z


Except for the last two lines, it's almost word for word from Les Mis! What people got away with!
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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue May 04, 2010 5:45 am

*headdesk* Dear God! It's one thing to write work with the same themes as the Brick, but to do it word for word?! Sadness....
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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby 9430 » Tue May 04, 2010 8:10 am

How did they manage to rip off practically word for word without it being noticed? That sort of thing wouldn't be so successful now, since they have software programs that text can be run through and compared to another work, but still!

Even the author's prologue is a rip off of Hugo:
And if it shall prove helpful to someone struggling for the way of true happiness and well being, then the object for which it is written shall have been attained.
Is it me or is that using Hugo's prologue and turning it into one which fits this book?
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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Frédérique » Tue May 04, 2010 10:31 pm

Despard - the copyright note (haha) dates it to 1917, so I suppose that what was when it saw its first and last edition, via Olive Leaf Press, Los Angeles.
Archive.org has the full text (Google Books has pages missing) - the Enjolras/Marius conflation really is dumbfounding, since she doesn't just give the gorgeous revolutionary orator Marius' dark hair and romantic situation, she also lets him not care about the funeral and at all and consider his father's viewpoint that a revolt is a waste of time because there always have been kings and always will be kings relatively valid:
He thought, - yes it is true, I have lost my love and besides what can we hope to accomplish, I have seen enough of this. [...] He sat down on a bench and began to weep. That was horrible.

Having acknowledged this, he goes on to have a "One Day More" moment:
"Shall I forsake my friends now in the time when they need me?"

which is admittedly a nobler thought than occurs to book!Marius at this point. Luckily for all who would otherwise have been deprived of the sight of his hair, he is then picked up by not!Courfeyrac and a band of students (Charles takes the part of all of C/E/C in organising the barricade - not bad! also, 'Hohee!' is actually what Bossuet shouts to Courfeyrac from the Corinthe window). Meanwhile, Jehan's father sends his servant James to look after him.
Jehan's long speech is actually ended not by his continuing to speak soundlessly to no-one in particular but rather by the second attack:
"[...] and we are entering a tomb all flooded with the radiance of dawn."
Jehan paused. All gazed at him intently, desiring to hear more.
This is the way they reasoned; these young men in the bloom of health and youth. Heroes of the French Revolution.
Suddenly in the midst of the dismal calm, a mysterious movement was heard at a certain distance. It was evident that the critical moment was approaching.

I'm not entirely sure whether 'this is the way they reasoned' refers to his speech or to 'all gazed at him intently'. Meanwhile ...
Philip had returned to tell Evadne that Jehan was in a barricade, engaged in civil war.
"Oh," cried Evadne, "he will be killed. Order the carriage at once and take me to the barricade."

ORDER THE CARRIAGE AT ONCE AND TAKE ME TO THE BARRICADE.

She then saves his life by turning away the arm of a soldier aiming at him. James carries him home. Neither he nor Evadne is noticed by anyone, though for some reason Jehan's father knows who saved him and tells his son. (The barricade is mentioned no more. In his final appearance in the book, Jehan reconvalesces and has a 'sweet, pretty' wedding with Evadne.)
This news had the effect of "the joy of life after the agony of death."

a variation on the title of the chapter in which Éponine dies, "The Agony of Death after the Agony of Life".

The next chapter is about Beethoven.


Ophelia - the first Les Mis fanfic on record (not counting instant stage adaptations etc.) seems to be Adam's (which is, in fact, an expansive original story featuring sporadic appearances by very well-dressed Amis at expensive restaurants and Masonic lodges; its adaptation of their characters is not always internally coherent [I think Courfeyrac is said to be both a doctrinaire, i.e. a liberal monarchist, and a Fourierist, i.e. an utopian socialist-- the latter being an idea I really wish were taken up by a fic writer with a thorough grasp on Fourier's designs for universal reform because I can totally see C. experimenting with the social/romantic/erotic relationship concepts he laid out, except maybe not quite as ... conceptually], but still lots of fun), but whereas he was actually a moderately renommé writer (getting praise from some of the fin-de-siècle décadents, probably for the dandyisms), searching the internet for M(r)s Shaeffer and this here work brings up only offers to purchase it - quite a shame; it would be interesting to know the context in which she decided that it was just what humanity needed.
Two things I wonder:
1. Are there bits and pieces of any other literary work in "The Drama of the Ages" (apart from those which are, in fact, explicitly cited)?
2. ... are there maybe actually dozens if not hundreds of books floating around the public domain which are made up of 85% Brick?!

Aurelia - What is saddest is that the way this book has cut and pasted and twisted Hugo's text the themes, the plot, the characterisation emerge as completely crude and incoherent to anyone who hasn't read the Brick and can point at passages saying 'ah, this comes from [...], this belongs in the context of [...], this refers to [...]'. It's not just dubious as an intertextual creative effort, it's worthless as an adaptation as well.

9430 - Hmmmmmmm! It is, surprisingly, not an immediate quote/paraphrase of either the preface or the letter to Daelli, but you're right, the sentiment is similar (though it probably wasn't a wholly unpopular one back in the day).
'That sort of thing' happened only this January in my neck of the woods - a writer publishing a novel which turned out (weeks after publication, if I remember correctly - weeks during which the book's shocking authenticity was highly praised) to contain sizable chunks of only slightly edited passages from another writer's novel as well as shorter excerpts from various others and some translated song lyrics. (The latest reprint comes with a six-page list of sources and the request to contact the publisher if you spotted another quotation or close paraphrase.) It set off a feuilleton debate regarding whether or not The Youth Of Today (the novelist is eighteen) has no notion of the concept of intellectual property because it grew up copying and downloading homework and music from the internet - but obviously it's hardly a phenomenon of our age in particular, and the internet only makes it quicker to do and (presumably) quicker to detect. Interestingly in this case as well as in "The Drama of the Ages", the changes made to the copied passages - both in substituting names and other details and in rearranging the syntax - often break up not only the coherence of the contents but also the flow of the language itself, which is just so ... if you love a text so much you want to make it your own, why not treat it a little more lovingly?

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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Col.Despard » Sat May 08, 2010 2:30 am

Order the carriage at once and take me to the barricade


This is my new favourite line in literature. I'm thinking I might even ditch the Colonel's noble scaffold quote as my sig in favour of this utter gem. It's icon worthy as well! This chick utterly has the right idea.

I assume the following lines is "and please have Jacques ensure that an iced bucket and some of the Moet is placed in the carriage - my nerves are all aflutter!"

Anyone want to bet that her idea of dressing as a boy is donning the Viola outfit she had her dressmaker run up for her after she saw that performance of "Twelth Night"?
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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Frédérique » Sat May 08, 2010 9:53 am

Image

... that totally looked more readable five seconds ago. Alas.

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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Col.Despard » Sun May 09, 2010 6:31 am

J'adore!

Shall I shamelessly stealing it? Or shamefully steal it, with your permission?
"The principles of freedom, of humanity, and of justice, will finally triumph over falsehood, tyranny and delusion, and every principle inimical to the interests of the human race" - Edward Despard, 1803

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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby Frédérique » Sun May 09, 2010 11:21 am

Steal it any way you like! It's property of the Republic.

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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ...

Postby a_marguerite » Thu May 20, 2010 4:56 pm

I'm sure I had something clever to contribute to this discussion, but then I saw the icon you made and started laughing hysterically. Sorry, all rational thought has been driven from my mind in face of that.

Order the carriage at once and take me to the barricade

Oh God, whatever she was paying the coach driver clearly wasn't enough, though I would love it so much of the carriage became part of the barricade.

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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ..

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:59 pm

Wow...just wow...This is plagiarism at it's craziest. I can't believe no one caught this. If the "author" wasn't dead, I would write her a letter telling her this. After reading about this a while ago, I finally dared to google-book this and randomly opened to a page, expecting to see more Les Mis rip-offs. A scene straight out of A Tale of Two Cities met my eyes.

From AToTC:
"At the steepest point of the hill there was a little burial-ground, with a Cross and a new large figure of Our Saviour on it; it was a poor figure in wood, done by some inexperienced rustic carver, but he had studied the figure from the life--his own life, maybe--for it was dreadfully spare and thin.

To this distressful emblem of a great distress that had long been growing worse, and was not at its worst, a woman was kneeling. She turned her head as the carriage came up to her, rose quickly, and presented herself at the carriage-door.

"It is you, Monseigneur! Monseigneur, a petition."

With an exclamation of impatience, but with his unchangeable face, Monseigneur looked out.

"How, then! What is it? Always petitions!"

"Monseigneur. For the love of the great God! My husband, the forester."

"What of your husband, the forester? Always the same with you people. He cannot pay something?"

"He has paid all, Monseigneur. He is dead."

"Well! He is quiet. Can I restore him to you?"

"Alas, no, Monseigneur! But he lies yonder, under a little heap of poor grass."

"Well?"

"Monseigneur, there are so many little heaps of poor grass?"

"Again, well?"

She looked an old woman, but was young. Her manner was one of passionate grief; by turns she clasped her veinous and knotted hands together with wild energy, and laid one of them on the carriage-door --tenderly, caressingly, as if it had been a human breast, and could be expected to feel the appealing touch.

"Monseigneur, hear me! Monseigneur, hear my petition! My husband died of want; so many die of want; so many more will die of want."

"Again, well? Can I feed them?"

"Monseigneur, the good God knows; but I don't ask it. My petition is, that a morsel of stone or wood, with my husband's name, may be placed over him to show where he lies. Otherwise, the place will be quickly forgotten, it will never be found when I am dead of the same malady, I shall be laid under some other heap of poor grass. Monseigneur, they are so many, they increase so fast, there is so much want. Monseigneur! Monseigneur!"

The valet had put her away from the door, the carriage had broken into a brisk trot, the postilions had quickened the pace, she was left far behind, and Monseigneur, again escorted by the Furies, was rapidly diminishing the league or two of distance that remained between him and his chateau."


From The Drama of the Ages:

"At the steepest point of a hill there was a little burial ground with a cross and the figure of our Saviour on it, to this emblem a woman was kneeling. A carriage passed, she turned her head; she rose quickly and presented herself at the carriage door.
"It is you Monsieur? Monsieur a petition." A cruel face looked out.
"Monsieur, my husband died of want; so many die of want; so many more will die of want."
"Well, can I feed them?"
"Monsieur,the good God knows; my baby is starving and will soon be laid under a heap of poor grass, and when I am dead of the same malady, I shall be laid under another heap of poor grass. Monsieur, there are so many, they increase so fast, there is so much want."

The lackey put her away, the horses broke into a brisk trot, the postillions quickened their pace, she was left far behind. Monsieur rapidly diminished the distance that remained between him and his chateau."

Wow. This is just wrong. And yet really, really funny. I would read this book, but I'm not sure I can bear it. I wonder how many other books got one of her "honorable mention" awards? Les Mis obviously got first prize. I wonder how she ended it...
"Ahem! Jacques Valjacques stoically mounted the steps to the guillotine to save his son-in-law and spare his darling golden-haired daughter's feelings. Poor young...uh...Darius...had...gotten trapped in the French Revolution and was arrested when his...time machine broke down. [LM is not part of the French Revolution!] Valjacques had carried him through miles of... slimy underground French prison...to his grandfather...the Marquis! 'It is a way, way better thing I do...'" :shock:

Did this lady write any other books? (Write as in write or as in change one word of a very famous passage. Either will do. :wink: )
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Re: Colossal (albeit curiously peu à peu) Les Mis rip-off ..

Postby Gervais » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:57 pm

*gingerly dusts offf thread*

The ToTC ripoff section looks very similar to the SparkNotes to that chapter. Maybe it wasn't a novel she was going for, but a summary of every Great Book at the time? :wink:

YoungStudentMarius wrote:
Did this lady write any other books? (Write as in write or as in change one word of a very famous passage. Either will do. :wink: )


I honestly tried to look this up, but the only thing under her name anywhere is this. She either couldn't find anyone to publish anything more, or thought this as her masterwork. In my head, anyway.

ETA: Here's a link to an Archive one, since the other one goes to Google: http://archive.org/stream/dramaofages00 ... 0/mode/2up
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