Origins of the characters' names

Any discussion related to Victor's Hugo's Les Misérables, in any language.
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Gervais
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Gervais » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:11 am

So Zelle, Marius, and I were left alone together yesterday, when suddenly we realized a possible, though maybe not entirely probable, meaning for Courfeyrac's name. Multiple, in fact.

The first one noticed was that Cour looks a bit like cœur, which, as most of you probably know, means "heart," and also "core" (and some similar things, but those are the main ones). Courfeyrac is described as the center, or core, of the group.

It was also pointed out that "cour" is literally "court," and could be a reference to his noble heritage, though it could also mean "courtship," which would suit him so well.

They "feyrac" part could be a reference to Chateau Fayrac, and thus another reference to Courfeyrac's family heritage, but I'm not sure it would be well-known enough back then that readers throughout the country would know it was an allusion, and, well, an audience has to be able to get an allusion for it to be effective.

So, all of this may be out on a limb, or maybe even just a rehash of what others have said and that the three of us just hadn't come across, but an interesting thought. And since Hugo seems to name his characters with either puns or allusions, having a character whose name includes both maybe isn't too far out there.

Also, sorry to link to an article in French when I had to use google to understand it myself.
Last edited by Gervais on Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:13 am

Interesting thought!

Have you guys taken a look at this one: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=407&p=42809&hilit=enjoler#p42809
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Gervais » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:20 am

Ooh, I have, Aurelia, but thanks for linking. :mrgreen:
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby CosetteMari » Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:20 am

I thought that 'Ponine's name came from Eponina, someone from Rome? IDK, just saw on the web.
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Rachel » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:27 pm

"Giving full credit to the story, Eponina was thrown into a transport of grief which went far to convince the spies of Rome that she must have received sure tidings of her husband's death, and that Sabinus had escaped the vengeance of Rome. For several days her grief continued unabated, and then the same messenger returned and told her that her husband still lived, having spread the report of his death to throw his pursuers off his track.
This information brought Eponina as lively joy as the former news had brought her sorrow; but knowing that she was watched, she affected as deep grief as before, going about her daily duties with all the outward manifestations of woe. When night came she visited Sabinus secretly in his new hiding-place, and was received in his arms with all the joy of which loving souls are capable. Before the dawn of day she returned to her home, from which her absence had not been known."

"This cruel sentence changed the tone of Eponina. She had hitherto humbly and warmly supplicated her husband's pardon. Now that he was dead she resolved not to survive him. With the spirit and pride of a free-born princess she said to Vespasian, "Death has no terror for me. I have lived happier underground than you upon your throne. You have robbed me of all I loved, and I have no further use for life. Bid your assassins strike their blow; with joy I leave a world which is peopled by such tyrants as you.""

Sounds kind of like Éponine, actually. Perhaps this was what the Marius/Éponine relationship (or lack thereof) looked like to her?

EDIT: Realized I forgot my source. Sorry.

http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?a ... ry=eponina
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Acaila » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:54 pm

"It was at the epoch when the ancient classical romance which, after having been Clelie, was no longer anything but Lodoiska, still noble, but ever more and more vulgar, having fallen from Mademoiselle de Scuderi to Madame Bournon-Malarme, and from Madame de Lafayette to Madame Barthelemy-Hadot, was setting the loving hearts of the portresses of Paris aflame, and even ravaging the suburbs to some extent. Madame Thenardier was just intelligent enough to read this sort of books. She lived on them. In them she drowned what brains she possessed. This had given her, when very young, and even a little later, a sort of pensive attitude towards her husband, a scamp of a certain depth, a ruffian lettered to the extent of the grammar, coarse and fine at one and the same time, but, so far as sentimentalism was concerned, given to the perusal of Pigault-Lebrun, and "in what concerns the sex," as he said in his jargon—a downright, unmitigated lout. His wife was twelve or fifteen years younger than he was. Later on, when her hair, arranged in a romantically drooping fashion, began to grow gray, when the Magaera began to be developed from the Pamela, the female Thenardier was nothing but a coarse, vicious woman, who had dabbled in stupid romances. Now, one cannot read nonsense with impunity. The result was that her eldest daughter was named Éponine; as for the younger, the poor little thing came near being called Gulnare; I know not to what diversion, effected by a romance of Ducray-Dumenil, she owed the fact that she merely bore the name of Azelma."
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby CeridwenLynne » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:09 pm

I've read somewhere that Éponine might be a variant of the name Epona who was a horse goddess in Gallo-Roman mythology.
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Gervais » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:17 pm

Yeah, but I'm in the Eponina camp, mostly because Éponine and Sabinus were used as figures in romance novels, and like Acaila pointed out, Mme T named her daughters after characters. Plus the whole "with joy I leave a world because my lover is dead" thing Eponina has going on (yay, paraphrase).
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Trompe-la-Mort » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:44 am

My edition has an annotation for the name Javert, noting that the last syllable is pronounced the same as "erre" - "(he/she) errs" and pointing out that the first syllable contains Jean Valjean's initials, although I'm not sure what to make of that. Geopatronyme claims that "Javert" is an actual, if extremely uncommon, last name, with a single birth since 1891... "Javer" is slightly more common (11 births in the same time period)

Also, "Valjean" is an actual rare last name, "Vlajean" isn't. imdb even has two actors by the name of Jean Valjean listed...

And I have recently seen "Cossette" as a last name, which still amuses me...
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Acaila » Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:51 pm

In terms of Les Mis names as actual names, Cosette was actually mentioned here recently in terms of naming children. This annoying Z list celebrity type came out and said on tv that she wouldn't let her children play with other children who had lower-class sounding names, and would judge children based on their names. She gave examples of Tyler and Chardonnay and the like, but also mentioned that you shouldn't call a child Cosette, because it meant little thing and she'd probably grow up fat. I did have to roll my eyes that something from a 19th century literary clasic
Then again, she also said she hated geographical names, at which point the host interrupted to say "But your child's called India?!"
"That's not a geographical name".

....yeah...
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby humanracer » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:12 pm

Trompe-la-Mort wrote:My edition has an annotation for the name Javert, noting that the last syllable is pronounced the same as "erre" - "(he/she) errs" and pointing out that the first syllable contains Jean Valjean's initials, although I'm not sure what to make of that. Geopatronyme claims that "Javert" is an actual, if extremely uncommon, last name, with a single birth since 1891... "Javer" is slightly more common (11 births in the same time period)

Also, "Valjean" is an actual rare last name, "Vlajean" isn't. imdb even has two actors by the name of Jean Valjean listed...

And I have recently seen "Cossette" as a last name, which still amuses me...


What edition do you have? Rose?

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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby Trompe-la-Mort » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:59 pm

No, not a translation. It's the French "Classiques de poche"-edition. Notes by Guy Rosa, Commentaries by Nicole Savy, with the result that I never know who wrote what exactly.
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Re: Origins of the characters' names

Postby LauraLeZunzu » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:18 pm

Oh I love this post! Thank you all for posting all of that.
I think all kind of origins you said could be possible... I don't know how Hugo was able to assume all that knowledge :shock: But I'm sure he knew about all of that, and he could had mixed all up for which was his greatest and more difficult materpiece.
I have to admit the classic Jean valjean/Javert JVJ/JV is my favourite haha :D
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