Le Bossu Quartre.

I’m sorry, it’s a full-blown obsession now.

It’s a shame I can’t actually read or speak French, because there are boatloads of Paul Féval novels available in his native tongue. But there are no English editions available that I can find, just this:

Brougham, John, 1810-1880.
The duke’s daughter, or, The hunchback of Paris : a drama, in three acts, and a prologue / dramatized from M. Paul Feval’s Le petite parisien by MM. Anicet Bourgoise and Feval as Le bossu ; adapted for the English stage.
New York : Samuel French & Son, [ca. 1883]

It’s miraculously available at the Amherst College library, but for use in the library only — it’s with the Archives and Special Collections. Foiled again!

Le Bossu Trois.

“If you do not come to Lagardère, Lagardère will go to you!” Those are the words in the form of oath taken by Lagardère to Count de Gonzague, who plots a conspiracy against his friend, the brilliant Duke de Nevers, to capture the wealth of his rich cousin. It will take sixteen years for the Knight Lagardère to avenge his friend, save his honour, and find love.

I cleaned it up a little, but that is the Google translation from the French about the film. It was the rollicking adventure that I remembered, with funny & smart dialogue. I was swept up all over again.

Until the end. I didn’t remember that at all.  Those French! I don’t care if he’s not her father after all, that does not mean they can be together. Some things just aren’t done. It’s creepy.

So that meant I had to Google Le Bossu and see its history — from the extras it was clear that it’s a remake. And not only is it based on a cloak-and-dagger novel series by Paul Féval published in 1858, but the first film version was in 1910! There have been 7 film versions in total, and 2 TV movies. So everyone in France must know this story — does Foster Dad always get the girl in the end?? Marianne? Andrew?

Now I have to see if there’s an English edition of the novel…

Le Bossu Deux.

For two nights now it’s been sitting in its envelope on top of our DVD player.  But for one reason or another we still haven’t had the time to watch it.


I guess after ten years I can stand the suspense another day.  Tomorrow night for sure.  I’ll make Vincent watch it if that’s what it takes.  Besides, if memory serves, there are no guns, just sword fights.


Le Bossu et Tim Mayo.

Labor Day weekend in 1998 I was in Montreal. As it happens, that’s also the weekend that they have a film festival every year, which I discovered accidentally walking down Elizabeth St. in the evening: a film was being shown against a building, just beginning, actually, and people were sitting all over. So I sat down too, not initially realizing that not only would the film be in French, but there’d be no subtitles.


But it was exciting, suspenseful, Daniel Auteuil and Vincent Perez were in the cast, and though I didn’t follow the finer points of the plot, I was completely swept up.

About a half hour before the movie ended, we were drenched by a raging thunderstorm. Big thunder booms, flashes of lightning. But no one moved. Not a single person. We, all of us, had to see how it ended. It was that good.

For all these years, I’ve been longing to see this movie again, this time with subtitles, so I could understand what the stakes were, the story beneath the action, but the only thing I could discover was the title, Le Bossu, which translates to “The Hunchback.”

But thanks to the miracle of the internet, I have at last the information I needed — and I know why I couldn’t find it before. Literal-minded me, I was looking all this time for a movie called, “The Hunchback,” but the English title is “On Guard.” Stupid title, but there it is. Anyway, I shall have it safely placed inside my DVD player tomorrow night, and all its secrets shall be revealed….


Tim Mayo read last week as part of the Collected Poets Series, and I wanted to post one of the poems from his new chapbook, The Loneliness of Dogs (Pudding House, 2008) for those of you that weren’t able to come, a taste of what you missed:

Confession to the Dark Lady

Now I am an old man touching desire
like the
nombril of my body,
picking lint out of the center of my being,
folding myself to sleep like a towel.
I dream of your lips red as welts
against your white face, and I cannot
imagine your teeth, because the redness
of my dream blooms so vermilion–
but you must have smiled at me, once,
making the measured grimace of my face
relax its muscles, letting something,
hard as a pearl, go limp in my brain.