It’s online ya see. So, against my better judgement (since I thought the whole thing was awful and all) I decided to go look up the Grantaire bits.
AND WE’RE ALREADY OFF TO A TERRIBLE START.
I don’t think the Grantaire-Eponine bit made it to the actual TV screen but it definitely wasn’t in the books. And okay, I’ll concede that Grantaire is pretty shitty towards women in the book, but not this shitty. He goes out and parties with Marius and the others at the ball of “lost women” (which takes up one paragraph in the book rather than the entire sequence devoted to it it in the miniseries) but he doesn’t seem like the type to hire a prostitute:
“Oh! frightful old world. People strive, turn each other out, prostitute themselves, kill each other, and get used to it!”-from “PRELIMINARY GAYETIES”
But the thing that possibly annoys me the most about this scene (apart from it also reducing Eponine to a quip machine, which I hate) is that if it had just stopped before that bit it would have actually been a good moment, because Eponine and Marius and Grantaire at this point are “in love with an angel”:
Grantaire admired, loved, and venerated Enjolras. To whom did this anarchical scoffer unite himself in this phalanx of absolute minds? To the most absolute. In what manner had Enjolras subjugated him? By his ideas? No. By his character. A phenomenon which is often observable. A sceptic who adheres to a believer is as simple as the law of complementary colors. That which we lack attracts us. No one loves the light like the blind man. The dwarf adores the drum-major. The toad always has his eyes fixed on heaven. Why? In order to watch the bird in its flight. Grantaire, in whom writhed doubt, loved to watch faith soar in Enjolras. He had need of Enjolras. That chaste, healthy, firm, upright, hard, candid nature charmed him, without his being clearly aware of it, and without the idea of explaining it to himself having occurred to him.-from A GROUP WHICH BARELY MISSED BECOMING HISTORIC
Honestly (to me at least) the Grantaire/Enjolras relationship is one of the most tragic, romantic and interesting relationships in the whole of Les Mis, and for the life of me I can’t see why it was just… left out. There was time to show Marius having a wet dream about Eponine (ugh) but no time to explore the only bit of the book which depicts an (albeit one-sided) love between two men?
I assumed when I first watched this episode that “I have felt what you are feeling” etc was a veiled nod towards the relationship, but I kinda have second thoughts now.
I don’t hate this but it’s nowhere near what happens in the book:
He sat down, put his elbows on a table near the window, looked at Enjolras with indescribable gentleness, and said to him:—
“Let me sleep here.”
“Go and sleep somewhere else,” cried Enjolras.
But Grantaire, still keeping his tender and troubled eyes fixed on him, replied:—
“Let me sleep here,—until I die.”
Enjolras regarded him with disdainful eyes:—
“Grantaire, you are incapable of believing, of thinking, of willing, of living, and of dying.”
Grantaire replied in a grave tone:—
“You will see.”-from NIGHT BEGINS TO DESCEND UPON GRANTAIRE
Okay this actually is in the book (though it’s more than Grantaire joining in) and yes it absolutely would count as sexual assault in today’s world. Sure it would have been nothing in the nineteeth century but now it is, which makes this all the odder:
Disclosure! I once wrote a fanfic where (a pre-barricade) Matelote and Grantaire do indeed go to bed together, but there’s nothing really in the books to actually indicate she was attracted to him in the slightest. Or even liked him, really. (Can you blame her?)
We are now up to The Death Scene:
I’m glad they got some variation of “I am one of them” plus “Long live the Republic” in there. But here’s the kicker, here’s what They Did Not Get…
Grantaire doesn’t face the firing squad because he has “the courage of a very drunk man indeed,” the exact opposite in fact-
Grantaire rose to his feet with a start, stretched out his arms, rubbed his eyes, stared, yawned, and understood.
A fit of drunkenness reaching its end resembles a curtain which is torn away. One beholds, at a single glance and as a whole, all that it has concealed. All suddenly presents itself to the memory; and the drunkard who has known nothing of what has been taking place during the last twenty-four hours, has no sooner opened his eyes than he is perfectly informed.-from ORESTES FASTING AND PYLADES DRUNK
He chooses to die alongside Enjolras because he’s in love with him, whichever way you wanna take that. Oh sure, the miniseries version of the death scene is snappy enough, and they did at least get the clasped hands in there in the finished version-
-but it doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the book. Why? Well honestly very little of the miniseries has anywhere near the power of the book, but leaving out the Grantaire/Enjolras story in a show that had more than enough time for it is just sort of galling to me personally… plus I notice that they managed to sexualise almost every relationship in the book (in increasingly gross ways) except the one same-sex one. Sigh.