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Paule Mink, "Broken Arm"

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

"Bras cassé" originally appeared in La Revue socialiste in November, 1895.  The author was Paule Mink (sometimes "Minck," 1839–1901), born Adèle Paulina Mekarska, a French radical and feminist whose early political work seems to have been in the mutualist women's organizations that thrived at various times, despite Proudhon's severe and very public flounderings on questions of gender, sexuality and the family. I have a collection of Mink's political writings requested through interlibrary loan, and a couple of things, including a discussion of abortion rights from the 1890s, slated for translation for a future project. In the meantime, here's another lovely, if not cheerful, tale of proletarian woe. As someone who did a lot of work on formula fiction in a past academic life, the mix of romantic and coming-of-age conventions in this strike me as well-selected to tell the story of a strong man in a weak position.



Fruit of the sewer or flower of love, stream-scum or hedge-bud, result of a brutal crossroads passion or of naive tenderness: what was his origin? He did not know...

Picked up in the street, one morning, between a pile of rubbish and some rubble from demolition, abandoned like a small cat someone wants to be rid of, he was carried to the alms-house, and then placed among some farmers who raised him, giving him bread, in exchange, when he got to be a little bigger, for a labor that was very hard for a child, but who never had for him either affection or caresses.

He had a roof, under which he could lie down, and a portion of the soup, but not of the familial affection. Mama!... that word, cuddly and sweet, the first stammering of every little one, he had never murmured except in ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

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