Sunday, 4 January 2009

Victor's chef-d'oeuvre and mine

This week, Other Men's Flowers enters its sixth year and passes the quarter-million word mark.

Les Misérables has more than twice as many words and these were all written by Hugo, whereas only about 40% (at a guess) of the words in OMF are mine, and the remainder are other men's (or women's). Another difference between the two works which critics have noted is that OMF is mostly in English, unlike LM, which is virtually all in French; the latter has been translated into English seven times and into many other languages, while translations of OMF have been made only by Google and are totally incomprehensible.

OMF is divided into 881 posts, while LM comes in 5 volumes, 48 books and 577 chapters; no editions of it contain, as OMF does, 1,291 comments, 883 hyperlinks and 466 pictures. However, the picture reproduced here, Cosette by Emile Bayard, also appeared in the original edition of LM and is thus common to both.

Hugo's great novel tells an epic story and covers an enormous canvas; OMF is less ambitious, consisting as it does of little snippets of this and that, most of which exhibit a facetious banality—or, as some critics maintain—a vapid flippancy; LM is noted for its total lack of flippancy. It is widely considered that both works contain some passages of memorable prose and many long and tedious sections which are totally unreadable and quite irrelevant to the main theme.

LM features characters called Marius Pontmercy and Ultime Fauchelevent, a.k.a. Urbain Fabre or Jean Valjean; these people have never been mentioned at all in OMF until today.

Since 1907, there have been about fifty film adaptations of Les Misérables and so far none at all of Other Men's Flowers, but it is early days yet.

10 comments:

Hiram J. Huckensacker said...

My office has been trying to reach you. We want the film rights to OMF. How would you feel about George Lazenby playing you, with possibly David Tennant or Chiwetel Ejiofor for the young you, the flashbacks?

Britney Spears is interested in playing Minerva and we're trying to get hold of Depardieu for Froog. We thought a young unknown, ideally with a disfgurement, for Grumio?

Anyway, call me.

Hiram J. Huckensacker III

Tony said...

OK Hiram old love, tell your people to kick it around with my people and we'll see what pops out of the goodie bag.
But I must tell you straight away that Lazenby is far too old and not nearly sexy enough, and Britney wouldn't cut the mustard as Minerva: far too skinny.
Bear in mind too that Grumio is contracted to play Harold in all three of the Battle of Hastings movies now in pre-production, and won't be available until at least 2011.

Hiram J. Huckensacker III said...

HI! Hiram here!

Great news! Lazenby passed anyhow but Richard Briers is up for doing you and Rhys Ifans the young(er) you. Bad news about Grumio (those Hastings pics will tank, believe me, I saw the one about Richard the Third and it blew chunks) but we've got a lead on Fiona Shaw, might do a cross-dressing thing with Grumio, sometimes works.

So what do you say? Lunch?

HH

PS Can we shift your childhood from Croydon to Wisconsin? It's a tax thing plus some of the scenery, you know how it goes.

Hiram J. Huckensacker III said...

Oh forgot to say, Froog's out, all that Eastern schtick the writers couldn't make it real and in any case, budget, yaddah yaddah yaddah.

Most likely we'll put in some scenes with Outeast, John Cleese is interested and if that doesn't work Tommy Steele.

Froog said...

I am flattered by the suggestion of Depardieu to play me - though I would have been more flattered by the suggestion of the incredibly handsome and much younger Mr Ejiofor. Even with the Christmas bloat upon me, I think I am a probably at least 100lbs lighter than the good Gerard (much of that difference being in the nose area).

I have just bought a 1930s film version of Les Miserables with Jean Gabin as Valjean. I recall you aren't that much of a Gabin fan. I venture to say that is a mistake on your part. I will let you know if you are even more mistaken after I watch this.

Froog said...

Ah, I am a victim of Chinese video pirates who put a picture of a much older Gabin (I was suspicious!), from a film I don't recognise, on the sleeve. Apparently this is a 1934 film by a director called Raymond Bernad, and Valjean is played by a Harry Baur (strange name, and otherwise unknown to me).

Tony said...

Shame on you, Froog, for not having heard of the great French actor Harry Baur (Carnet de Bal etc.)

Most versions of LM are travesties; Gabin's version (Le Chanois) is described as "solid", Robert Newton's (Milestone) as "solemn", Liam Neeson's (August) as "dour". Don't know about the Baur one. There was a 1935 one with Laughton and Fredric March (Boleslawsi) which sounds as if it was the best.

I love Jean Gabin for Pépé le Moko and a couple of others but in his usual role of Old Stone Face he could be pretty boring.

Tony said...

Hiram, sweetie:
Briers/Ifans sounds good. Entirely agree about Wisconsin, no-one will notice the difference.
Oh, and tell the writers the Istanbul incident in '73 is not to be covered: I want this to be a family film.
Lunch, yeah, usual place, Tuesday 20th. Bring Ellen-Lou if you can.
Love your website!

Hiram J. Huckensacker III said...

Oops, sorry no can do Old Friend. Have to be on Lake Garda that day. E-L's bandages come off on 21st so that's out too.

Look, I'll get back to you after Cannes. See if I can knock up some pre-sales on the Briers/Ifans ticket. If it doesn't pan out we'll just revert to E-L's idea which was to make it the first mimed biopic. Rowan Atkinson as you, Vinnie Jones as Outeast. Maybe Froog himself can do the VO for the intro (aerial shots of Winconsin, midwife's guffawing face, all that schtuff).

Catch you later then, unless I see you on the Croisette?

HH

outeast said...

I'm not sure Vinnie Jones has the appropriate gravitas, but I'm flattered (though also not a little concerned) at the prospect of being written into Tony's life. I hope to reap a little reflected glamour (does glamour reflect? whell, as of now it does) from the proces.

I suppose I just have to hope you're not planning to incorporate me into the Istanbul Incident...