Sunday, July 14, 2013

When I was Robespierre...

Happy Bastille Day! Bonne Fête Nationale!

I have been practicing my French a bit lately on Accordingly, I've been feeling particularly Francophilic lately.

Sadly, Jon wouldn't let me throw a "storming the castle" Bastille Day party this year. Something about not trampling the week-old sod and ruining an expensive investment. Grumph.

I haven't had time today to make a Guillotine Cake. Much of that is because I've been busy reading Les Miserables. After slogging through thirty unnecessary pages about the Battle of Waterloo, I'm wishing I could go back a generation and enjoy the original, pre-Napoleon revolution.

As a nod to the day, though, I have been playing "The Great Dalmuti" and "Guillotine" with my family in an effort to celebrate. I had a great idea for guillotine cookies which I want to try tomorrow. That would count as a homeschool lesson, right? Or maybe if I assigned the kids to build a working model of a guillotine and test it on the stuffed animals...or their own fingers...?

I caught Daniel humming and Jon whistling the tune of "La Marseillaise" today, so obviously I'm doing something right.

When I was in ninth grade, I was at Pine View School for the Gifted and Talented in Sarasota, FL. We did world history that year, and our teacher, Mrs. Johnston, was fabulous. She put us through a three-week simulation of the French Revolution--and I got to be Robespierre. (This helps to explain the name of our new van.) I dove into my part, checking out extra books from the library, reading up on French history, and preparing assiduously for my job as chief prosecutor at the king's trial. (He was convicted and beheaded, by the way. That was a foregone conclusion. But I did a good job "proving" his guilt and orating passionately.)

Mrs. Johnston had a guillotine replica in her classroom, the "blade" covered in aluminum foil. I have fond memories of watching as Louis XVI and subsequent victims were dragged to it and forced into the stock. Ah, good times...

When Marat was abruptly assassinated by a peasant, most of my classmates were surprised, but I reacted quickly, ordering the immediate arrest of the assailant and identifying her as Charlotte Corday. I had been doing extra-curricular research, and I knew what was coming.

I had fun slowly going crazy and becoming a fanatic. Of course, eventually the mob turned on me and chopped of my head. I didn't go quietly, but in the end, I Madame la Guillotine claimed my head, too. After it was all over, I went into withdrawal for several days.

The whole thing was glorious.

Maybe I'm still trying to recapture my ill-spent youth, but I still love Bastille Day.

I refer you to a post I wrote five years ago about running La Marseillaise back and forth through an online translator program several times. It's a classic from the vault. Here's the link.

I still haven't made another guillotine cake with actual blood on the blade. Hopefully next year I'll manage it--along with another "Stormin' the Castle" party.

In the meantime--Vive la révolution!

1 comment:

Krenn said...

Sod? what sod? when was there sod? there must be photos.

and also nephews. because nephews are cute.