Marie started calling Evariste, “Evey,” from almost the moment they met. I don’t know whether she consciously came up with this pet name for him, but she’d been thinking of him as “Evey” for quite a while, and started calling him that almost from the moment they were introduced. Evey didn’t mind. Not at all. Naturally, Marie introduced him as “Evey” to everyone she knew, so they all called him that.
I first encountered Evariste while reading the book “Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality” by Edward Frenkel. I researched his life, and hoped there might be some small adventure where the heroine could use her medical knowledge to save him after the duel. But it turned out that was the wrong point at which to intervene. The perfect spot to find him was the day Steve opened the gate and sent them to Paris.
Evey’s dad was an honorable man who got smeared by his enemies. He committed suicide as a result. Evey’s mom taught him the classics, then sent him to school, where he only wanted to study math. In fact, some of his professors said he was shockingly ignorant about almost everything outside of math. (I think that’s why he especially enjoys the heroine’s question about whether there are mountains in France– he feels safer being near someone who also doesn’t know some basic stuff.) (That, and he’s wondering, after overhearing her ramblings at the dance and her argument with Ben on the stairs, whether she’s overwhelmed with misery, and/or too brilliant to be understood by those around her– another point of similarity with himself.)
Long story short, by January 2, 1831, Evey’s going downhill fast. He gets kicked out of school, he’s on bad terms with his mom, he has no money, he’s frustrated at having no one understand his ideas, and he’s getting wrapped up in some militia-type political groups. On January 17, he resubmits a math paper for publication, but hears nothing.
[Thus, by the day the heroine arrives, Evey’s getting in political trouble but isn’t in too deep yet, he’s estranged from his family so is free to take any long trip he likes, he could really use a way of getting fed regularly, he’s ready to fall in love with some sympathetic woman, and, most of all, he needs people who can understand him on an intellectual level. That’s why the people at the office chose this time to contact him. They were lucky when the physics suddenly sprang into alignment and the brief window of opportunity finally opened up.]
On March 31, Evariste sent a letter about his math paper submission. The letter basically said: “Have you read it yet?” No one responded.
By April 16, he’d become one of 19 National Guard artillery men who were arrested for refusing to disarm when their unit was disbanded. He was acquitted of those charges, but things kept getting worse. By mid-May, 1831, he was imprisoned for a treasonous act at an activist dinner (he made a toast while holding a knife, and people interpreted it certain ways). Eventually, he was tried and convicted, and sentenced to six months of imprisonment. Then he got into a romance with the jailer’s daughter. When he was released from prison at the end of April in 1832, he was a month away from being killed in a duel.
There’s lots of intrigue surrounding his death. A suggestion is that Evey was making too much trouble, politically, so his enemies got the jailer’s daughter (who was, by now, unhappy with the troubled Evariste) to make some accusations against him. Evariste denied doing what she accused him of doing, but he was challenged to a duel on the matter by a man who Evariste knew would kill him. (Back then, people might have a duel without any intention of killing each other– maybe they’d both miss on purpose, maybe they’d nick the guy and let it go– but this was not that kind of duel, and Evariste knew it.) Evariste stayed up all night, writing out his math theory on symmetries in the little time he had left.
He entrusted it to someone to get it to the one person he thought might understand it. Then he put out the candle, and prepared for death.
That morning, an unidentified assailant shot Evariste Galois in the gut, then left him to bleed for hours, alone in the street, till he was found and taken to a hospital. He died a short time later.
His friend got Evariste’s papers, and was able to decipher his hastily scribbled magnum opus and get it published, though it took years, and a couple of submission attempts. Evariste’s work became a foundation for a much better understanding of life, the universe, and everything.
[His work at the office has been astonishingly brilliant in the years since he played chess with the heroine while eating her dinner.]