Constructing a novel

A good omen! Today, on precisely the 142d anniversary of the beginning of the Paris Commune, this book (ordered from amazon.fr) has arrived:
Varlin, Eugène, y Paule Lejeune. Pratique militante & écrits d’un ouvrier communard. Paris: Harmattan, 2002.
Eugène Varlin, October 5, 1839-May 28, 1871
Very likely you have never heard of Eugène Varlin. I first discovered him about a year ago, first in brief mentions as a member of both the Commune (that is, an elected member of its governing body) and the International Workingmen's Association (later known as the First International). The more I learn about his brief life — he was murdered in the final days of the semaine sanglante, 22-28 May 1871, when he was not yet 32 — the more deeply he impresses me. He is just one of many remarkable and admirable heroes and heroines of that glorious, disastrous social experiment, Paris in the spring — Le temps des cerises, as the song put it — of 18 March to 28 May, 1871.

But for my novel, Varlin — worker, theorist, promoter of women as equals in the struggle, and ultimately as a combattant — will be a key to the dynamics of that great uprising and improvised creation of a new social order.

The greater weight of my story will be borne by my fictional characters, but to construct for the reader they world they move in I need to use the real streets, the bricks, the cannons and figures including Varlin, and Louise Michel, Nathalie Lemel, Jaroslav Dombrowski, and many others who may be mentioned only fleetingly in the novel. But all are part of its real setting.

And today, 18 March, in the anniversary of the almost accidental, chaotic first revolt against an abusive authority — Thiers' failed attempt to remove the National Guard's cannons from Montmartre — that began the revolt that became the model for Lenin's State and Revolution and every modern urban uprising since.

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