Thermidor Fun Fact Day Forty-Two: What are Shades (les Mânes) and what do they want from us?

Readers surely remember Ron Schechter’s fabulous essay on le bal des victimes—a favorite legend of le Directoire. But have you read his new work on the Terror? He brings an intriguing new character from postrevolutionary France into the spotlight: the shades (les mânes). One most often finds the word associated with revolutionary martyrs, such as Bara, Marat, or the victims of August 10.

What is a shade? What do shades look like? And what do they want from us? Which one of the following is not a correct answer?

a. They are ghosts.
b. They are often “still bleeding.”
c. They want the people, us, to kill their enemies in the name of freedom or the Republic.
d. They are usually seen to wear a pointed beard, a black beret, and to be smoking a Gauloise.

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