Quatrevingt-treize

Anything by Victor Hugo besides Les Misérables.
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EstelleLaChatte
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby EstelleLaChatte » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:51 am

I leave out the other consequences you mention because the royalist insurrections would (and, historically, did - along with the republican forces, sad to say) continue to slaughter innocents without Lantenac. With Lantenac, they might be a more serious threat to the Republic. But, of course, you're right; alive, Lantenac will of course add to the havoc wreaked on the civilian population.

I see where you're coming from now, but I still have to disagree that one can take historical examples out of context like that. Context is everything. After all, I might well say that one was justified and the other was foolish depending on the circumstances.
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby Elwen Rhiannon » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:37 pm

EstelleLaChatte wrote:I see where you're coming from now, but I still have to disagree that one can take historical examples out of context like that. Context is everything. After all, I might well say that one was justified and the other was foolish depending on the circumstances.


I used historical examples of Sparta and Nazis as symbols: the Spartans as such appeared in many times and places, I think many nations have at least one mythologized story of this kind (doesn't yours?).

As for French Revolution, I thought we're discussing literature and NOT a non-fiction book? I've always thought Victor Hugo, erudite or not, wrote a novel instead of scholar dissertation on Revolution, and this choice of his allows him as well as the critics to play with the matter (=Revolution) a bit differently.

From my hermeneutical point of view, literary work of art, to be such, must contain a kind of universal truth, something to understand. In other case it has only historical value (like all over 100-year-old texts, no matter by whom and what about). But perhaps you don't give Quatrevingt-treize the value of a work of art, or you understand this term differently. In such case we probably won't come to an understanding.

You know, over three years of university class on theory of literature finished with an oral exam requiring lots of reading material, taught me two things: first, context - the world outside the plain text - may matter, but I'd hesitate before saying firmly, like you do, that it's everything, as biographism going that far simplifies in my eyes the hell of every book (though you're entitled to interpretate it like you do - the text is open enough), second, no matter what my private scholar preferences are, I try to avoid blind devotion to any theory, as it leads to scholar fanaticism which closes your eyes on the possibilities given by different points of view and therfore is an unforgettable sin when you attempt interpretation of a literary work. Unless with saying "context is everything" you meant history and not literature, in which case I might eventually agree.

One more thing came to my mind, something interesting potentially useful while discucssing Gauvain's motives -

"Assassination is even more of a crime here than elsewhere; we are under the eyes of the Revolution, we are the priests of the Republic, we are the victims of duty, and must not be possible to slander our combat (...) As for myself, constrained as I am to do what I have done, and yet abhorring it, I have judged myself also, and you shall soon see to what I have condemned myself"

Enjolras' famous words after executing Le Cabuc. Yes, I know: one kills, another one saves the antagonist's life. Two extremly different actions, were they not taken with the same contempt for the antagonist, may he have some positive traits of character (Lantenac saving children) or not (Le Cabuc)! Similar motives, very similar explanation, similar knowledge that what one has done WAS bad (but not wrong!) and acceptance of having to pay for what one has done. Strange similarity and perhaps a key to open Quatrevingt-Treize a bit more, as complex as it is.
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby EstelleLaChatte » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:59 pm

I very much dislike using real historical events as mere symbols. It just sets you up for all kinds of misunderstandings. (You might argue that Hugo himself was doing this in Quatrevingt-Treize, but a) The historical characters are symbols, but they are also people and it's clear that Hugo did some research - if with sources like Lamartine, which is less than ideal, but that's what he had to work with - and recognized that he was working with historical figures. That he could make them larger than life symbols at the same time is only a testament to his genius. And b) This is the sort of thing one expects from a work of literature. But if Hugo himself, in conversation, had said something like, "Take Marat for example..." one would be within rights to assume he was talking about the historical Marat and not Marat-as-symbol or his literary version of Marat.)

And when I say context is everything, I do mean in history. You were using historical examples. But I also mean in terms of moral decisions. In fact, you just provided a very good example of that. I'm not saying this is necessarily my view, but one might very well agree with both Gauvain and Enjolras, different though their ultimate decisions are, since they're each facing similar problems but with slightly altered terms.

As to literature as a whole, I agree that the kind of outside context you seem to think I was talking about is significant, but certainly not *everything*. (However, literature may be used as a historical source - if I were to write a biography of Victor Hugo and wanted to know what he was thinking c. 1873, I'd be foolish not to consult Quatrevingt-Treize. This would certainly not constitute the study of literature per se, but it would be a perfectly legitimate use of literature.)

That said, I'm far from asserting this is the only use of literature, or that Quatrevingt-Treize is not a work of art in the manner you describe. I merely intend to suggest that a book may have universal themes, universal principles even, but it may not take a specific action undertaken by one of the characters and say: this is universally applicable. And I don't think Quatrevingt-Treize does that, either. Moreover, like all truly great works of literature - which I'm sure you'll agree that one does not need a degree in literary criticism to appreciate - it does not have any kind of pat moral, and assuming it even *has* a single overarching universal truth to impart, which is doubtful, it leaves just what that is ambiguous. If it didn't, I doubt we would be having this conversation.
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby Elwen Rhiannon » Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:26 pm

EstelleLaChatte wrote:I very much dislike using real historical events as mere symbols. It just sets you up for all kinds of misunderstandings.

Yet historical events are and will be mythologized, as annoying as some legends running wild may sometimes be.

And when I say context is everything, I do mean in history. You were using historical examples.

Agreed. Though I think some people&acts belong to the past (= history) as well as to the present with their universal meaning and influence. But that'd be a long discussion, and an off topic one, I'm afraid.

However, literature may be used as a historical source - if I were to write a biography of Victor Hugo and wanted to know what he was thinking c. 1873, I'd be foolish not to consult Quatrevingt-Treize. This would certainly not constitute the study of literature per se, but it would be a perfectly legitimate use of literature.

I'd hesitate a lot before identifying the novel's narrator with its author, it's extremly dangerous, even with diaries, if one doesn't keep distance! We don't know what Victor Hugo thought, we just know what he wrote, and it's not the same.

a book may have universal themes, universal principles even, but it may not take a specific action undertaken by one of the characters and say: this is universally applicable.

What are universal themes if not compilations of actions? Is Sophocles' Antigone not universal? Now you have me confused...

great works of literature - which I'm sure you'll agree that one does not need a degree in literary criticism to appreciate

Above anything else, my point was not to show university degree but to stress that I've read more than a few things in my life and the more I read, the more humble I become in my criticism of anything or stating with absolute firmness that my point of view is the right one. Besides, I didn't mean appreciating as much as being able to see on different level, like the abstractive-universal one.
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby EstelleLaChatte » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:17 pm

Historical events are mythologized, but I want to contribute to that as little as possible in favor of a deeper understanding of history. Hence, while I'm not going to die that a certain mythology exists around the Spartans, when I refer to just "Sparta" and not "the myth surrounding Sparta," I'm always going to mean the historical Sparta - with all the disagreements about interpretation that implies.

I agree, this is gotten off-topic enough without our discussing the nature and uses of history.

Did I say I identified Hugo's thoughts with the words of his narrator in Quatrevingt-Treize? No. Nor would I ever suggest such a thing. I merely said one would be foolish not to use it as a source - again, with the same necessity for a critical reading that would apply to any historical source. No biographer worth his salt is going to claim that there is a one to one relationship between what Hugo wrote and what he thought, but that doesn't mean that what he wrote can't invite reflection on his state of mind at the time, on what he wanted other people to think or to think he was thinking. Even the question of why he decided to write this particular book at this particular point of his life and in this particular context can be a valuable one. But using any kind of document as a historical source should never imply just taking what it says at face value, and I would be as disgusted with such a practice as you are.

Let me explain. It seems to me that if we can fall a theme of Antigone universal, it would be that "some duties are higher than one's duty to human law," rather than say "always make sure your brother gets a proper burial because it would be impious to do otherwise." The former is the principle, the latter the action derived from the principle. If the play were only about the latter, I doubt it would have survived to this day, though it if had, I would still be reading it as a historical source, whereas you most likely would not be.

One can argue one's point of view without expressing any absolute certainty that it is the only correct one, can one not? At any rate, I don't necessarily disagree with or dislike a more abstract universal approach; I just don't find it as interesting. This is probably why I study history rather than literature. Notre-Dame de Paris is doubtless just as rich in universal themes as Quatrevingt-Treize and it has certainly gotten more notice from literary critics, but if I had to choose between that novel and Quatrevingt-Treize, I would always choose the latter, because my interest is in the French Revolution. If that means I lack the proper insight into literature, then so be it.
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby Abelarda » Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:41 am

Sorry for the delay, Frédérique!

Frédérique wrote:he and his approach were not actually suited to the realities of 1793, but only to 'the future' (which, from the point in time at which Gauvain speaks of it, can refer to Hugo's own time)

Or maybe it's universal and depicts a philosophical problem, which was my point in the earlier posts. ;-) But yes, I do agree with you that if one assumes that a historical, 1793 perspective is only a pretext here, he reads Quatrevingt-treize in a different way. I think it's an important conclusion, because on every level of interpretation the text will start to get new meanings. One can interprete almost everything only from historical perspective, which may be plausible in some cases, of course, but I always get the feeling that these interpretations lack something important. Please, take no offence, as it is only my point of view and I surely won't discredit anyone who thinks differently. Anyway, it is possible to interprete almost every book, even the Bible, only in a historical context, although it gives out a bit different meaning then.

Frédérique wrote:But (and this is why I think it does not work in terms of presenting him as one whose example could have inspired a positive change in his own time) it is oh so evident to the reader that it does not and will not - unless, of course, everyone in the present learns their lesson nicely from reading the book

Frankly speaking, I never saw neither Gauvain nor Cimourdain as a simple example to follow. Hugo depicts two ways of thinking, two mentalities, and compares them: he doesn't give us only one and exact answer (like, for example, Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities), which I consider to be one of the strongest points of the book. And yes, even if I consider Gauvain to be more of a moral winner than Cimourdain, I do agree that they both fail in a way or another. If Hugo wanted to show us something, it's probably the fact that there are situations in which even following one's moral code and conscience doesn't guarantee you the victory in reality, and the conclusion is not at all optimistic (have you possibly read Herbert's poem mentioned in my earlier post? Elwen Rhiannon says there's a German translation under the link, too... I think Quatrevingt-treize includes exactly the same kind of pessimism). But again, it's only my opinion.

Frédérique wrote:the standards by which a reader judges Gauvain probably depend wholly on whether the book is read as 'a story set during the French Revolution' or as 'fabularized philosophical tract'

Exactly! Although now I'm beginning to see your point of view more clearly, too, and I understand the differences between our methods of reading. So maybe it's good that we started to discuss about it.

Frédérique wrote:he shows no concern for his own image, only for that of the Revolution - but it's precisely that which should have stopped him from letting Lantenac go

It's probably because of the fact that when you're seeing Gauvain's Revolution as a coherent wholeness, I'm seeing two of them, with different priorities, the ideal one and the real one, and as long as they don't stay in conflict, everything is all right. But when something happens, a conflict between them is becoming visible and then it's a matter of choosing only one of them. I do understand now that if you don't acknowledge the tension between those two Revolutions, you'll probably have a totally different opinion of the situation and Gauvain himself.

Frédérique wrote:But there we simply have different intepretations (on top of different approaches), again

Probably. :-) And, as before, I never meant to suggest that it's wrong. Quoting (as far as I remember) Ingarden, there are exactly as many interpretations as many - not even readers, but readings! I like that theory. Perhaps it's the same with Gauvain's motivation. As for me, it's more like rising up the Revolution to his own moral standards (which he considers universal) and never let it stain itself, because it wouldn't be his Revolution then, not the one he hoped for (and here's an analogy with Enjolras's words, the ones that Elwen Rhiannon quoted). So the clash between the ideal and the reality and then the potential dissapointment is clearly written in it. But you have your own reading, your own vision of Gauvain, I have mine and it's all right. I guess I just couldn't stand the thought that nobody wants to stand up for him.
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby silverwhistle » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:59 pm

EstelleLaChatte wrote:I very much dislike using real historical events as mere symbols. It just sets you up for all kinds of misunderstandings.

I agree: it's dangerous and damaging to the understanding of history. Unfortunately, it's a huge temptation for historical novelists and film-makers hankering after 'universal significance' rather than 'slice of life' depictions.

I'm just getting into this bit of the Hugoverse, and there's a lot I find… disagreeable with it. If it stuck to being a slice-of-life historical novel, a story about the specific characters and their circumstances, fine: but for once, I find the digressions irritating. I've never found the Jacobins sympathetic (my sympathies are more socialist/'48-er/Communard: I don't like any of the pre-1830-ish revolutionary movements). Hugo also shows his colours as a supporter of the highly-centralised nation-state, which has not been an unalloyed good for the smaller nations of France: breaking clerical domination – fine; linguistic and cultural suppression – bad. (Pt 3, Book 1, Ch. 7 just made me angry with all its Paris-knows-best assumptions: I wonder how Breton novelists have tackled this time-period?). And the last interview in the cell… I wanted to bang their heads together. The philosophical tract side of the novel becomes too dominant at the expense of the characters-as-human beings. Mind, that strikes me as rather Jacobin: loving humanity in the abstract while killing them as individuals.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby EstelleLaChatte » Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:27 pm

As a Jacobine myself, I find your view of the period more than a little reductionist - a point I will return to, if you wish, when I have more time to address it. More than that, however, I must say that I find it a bit odd that you can so admire the 19th century revolutionaries who shared many ideas and ideals in common with those of the original Revolution, while taking reactionary history more or less at its word when it comes to the latter. What is it that you disagree with, exactly? The Republic? The Convention's attempts to defend itself against the very real forces of counterrevolution? Jacobin centralization? (A notion that needs, at the very least to be nuanced - so often people make the mistake of assuming that Bonaparte was merely a continuation of Jacobin policy on this point.) Linguistic dominance? There, I agree with you, in part; it was wrong and unhelpful to expect local populations to give up their local languages. It was not wrong, however, to expect them to learn French in addition. Surely the bonds of fraternity can only be strengthened with increased understanding.

But perhaps you merely take issue with the concept of universality. I can understand that view, but I can't share it. Not when I live in a society that tells me respecting my culture means that I can never escape the one I happened to be born into and to even try is to betray it. I do believe in and love humanity - and if you think that most of the people who have been killed in history have been killed by people like me, or that all such people were innocent and defenseless, I suggest you reread it. I proudly say, to paraphrase Montesquieu, that if I think of any idea beneficial to myself but harmful to my family, I reject it; if I think of an idea beneficial to my family but harmful to my country, I put it out of my mind; if I think of an idea beneficial to my country but harmful to humanity, I regard it as a crime.

I'm a kind of historical relativist, mind. I don't blame an ancient Roman for believing in the naturalness of slavery, nor a medieval person for believing in the sacredness of Throne and Altar. But I could not reject those opinions more when they show up in the 18th century or beyond. Mind, if they did not attack me first - as happened, by the way, in the Revoution - I would show people who hold those beliefs no violence. Robespierre's assertion that "no one loves armed missionaries" applies, I believe, on an individual as well as a global scale....

But to return to Victor Hugo, I believe my historical relativism is something akin to his belief in the progress of ideas. Which is why I say that I believe Victor Hugo thought that Cimourdain was good in '93 but that Gauvains are needed henceforth. This too, I freely admit, is a reductionist view, and I would not countenance it in a historian. However, the more general idea of the progress of ideas - which says, lest there be any misunderstanding, not that barbarity and backwardness are not possible in the future, but that new ideas, once articulated, are impossible to stifle - is Hugo's most important point in all his works. Even if I do not always agree with his use of history, that point, along with his great eloquence and magnanimity, his storytelling and, in many places, his insights, make Hugo my favorite novelist. I've only read Les misérables, '93, and Notre-Dame de Paris, of course, so I can't comment on his other works, but I don't see quite why loving the character studies of Notre-Dame de Paris or the scope of Les misérables should make me dislike the epicness of '93 - mistaken as if often is from a historical standpoint (and I'm sure you could say the same of Notre-Dame de Paris).
"Quand le gouvernement viole les droits du peuple, l'insurrection est pour le peuple le plus sacré et le plus indispensable des devoirs."
Maximilien Robespierre

"Homine imperito nunquam quidquam iniustius."
Terence

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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby silverwhistle » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:25 pm

Estelle:
I don't think there's anything "reactionary" about refusing to turn a blind eye to the human cost of political violence. Luxemburg saw through Lenin, and warned. One cannot justify killing people on ideological grounds. In terms of method, on the whole, evolution is preferable to revolution, unless there really is no alternative (1870-71 was a complete crisis because of the siege).

Re: the novel: I think there are pluses and minuses to both the heroes, and don't see either of them as a role-model for either time. Gauvain's key problem is that he has, in a war situation, deliberately allowed an enemy commander to escape. Under any regime, in any war, that would be a serious military matter, for which you'd expect a court-martial.

Some personal notes: I was in St Petersburg in 1991, doing some of my doctoral research, when there was the coup attempt: announcements on the radio, light music, waiting to hear what the army would do, watching the main road from the window in case the tanks were ordered in from Pskov. I was staying with an elderly teacher, who had survived the Nazi Blockade (her brother died of starvation, and their dog had been cooked). She had lost her father, an engineering lecturer, when she was 8, in 1938. The academics, the experts, were regarded as suspicious by the regime. There was a knock on the door at night, and he was arrested. He was allowed to kiss her goodbye, but she was asleep, so never saw him again. He was shot. Since we didn't know which way the coup would go, we had to be careful: listening to the BBC on the radio very quietly, because Marina said that, if things went badly, it's the kind of thing one could get denounced for if neighbours heard. She remembered that that had been a frequent occurence in the old days: people getting denounced if their neighbours wanted their apartment, or for personal grudges. That's the reality of situations like this. In the 1790s, it was the guillotine.

Re: minority languages: yes. That kind of thing affected my family. The Edinburgh-based Scottish education system used to be pretty bad. Just over a hundred years ago, it went without saying that children in the Highlands did not use Gaelic in the classroom, but they were expected to inform on each other for using it in the playground. My great-granduncle used to get into trouble for speaking it in the playground; but as he never married, he kept up the language. My great-grandfather, his older brother, married and had a family. but did not pass it on the his children as it was seen as a social handicap. Things have changed now, and it has official status. But it has a cost in culture and identity. Ironically, I'm better at Occitan, and feel more at home with it, than with Gaelic.
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby Hannah » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:57 pm

silverwhistle wrote:I don't think there's anything "reactionary" about refusing to turn a blind eye to the human cost of political violence. Luxemburg saw through Lenin, and warned. One cannot justify killing people on ideological grounds. In terms of method, on the whole, evolution is preferable to revolution, unless there really is no alternative (1870-71 was a complete crisis because of the siege).


I am just curious, but how would you personally define 'evolution' vs 'revolution'? Do you mean 'evolution' as in the slow, gradual progress of societies? If so, is people dying under, for example, an oppressive monarchy (even if it is gradually progressing towards being a fair society) less upsetting than people being outright killed by a revolutionary government? What if the monarchy denies that these deaths are their fault, and the revolution takes responsibility? Does that matter? And does it matter if the deaths which result from the monarchy are 'indirect'?

Also, who gets to decide whether or not there is an alternative? Obviously all revolutionaries believe that there is not a preferable alternative, or they would have done that. And the alternative - to whom is it preferable? For whom is the 'alternative' working?

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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby EstelleLaChatte » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:16 pm

I never said one should turn a blind eye to political violence. There is, however, something reactionary in refusing to see that revolutionary violence does not exist in a vacuum, but is most often a response to counterrevolutionary violence. I maintain that violence in self-defense may be justified; the line between defensive violence and violence that can never be justified (though it can yet be understood, for a historians perspective) is not always a clear one. I do not say this because I wish to justify any and all excesses, but because I recognize and respect that where I draw that line might not be the same place as where you or a third person might draw it. In any case, I largely agree with J-C Martin on the question: that violence on both sides in the Revolution was largely a heritage of the ancien régime and was largely not, on either side, grounded in principle, especially when it comes to conflicts in the provinces.

And if you think there was less of a crisis situation, or more of a choice where 1789 (or 1793) was concerned than 1871, I suggest to reexamine the history. To me, whether revolution or evolution is preferable is a fruitless debate: no one "decides" to have a revolution. They arise out of the circumstances.

As far as the novel goes, I think you're correct. Neither Cimourdain or Gauvain are perfect role models and it would be foolish in any era to try to imitate either one in every particular. Nevertheless, I think Hugo intended in a general sense for Cimourdain to symbolize '93 and for Gauvain to symbolize the future. (It's more complicated than that, of course: questions of choice and fate and also the characters' personalities - I don't think that even in '93 the characters are entirely types - come into it as well.)

What happened to the woman you were staying with and her father is tragic, and I am sorry for it, but France in the 1790s is not the and never can rightly be considered equivalent to a 20th century totalitarian regime, whatever François Furet and company have to say on the subject. There are always those who will take advantage of situations of crisis and fear to "take care of" personal grudges and so forth. That does not make all situations of crisis and all situations where people are afraid equivalent. The guillotine, by the way, was not by a long shot the most significant tool of abuse of power during the Revolution either - just the most famous; less people were guillotined for political reasons during the "Terror" than during WWI. Most of what I would consider the atrocities on the Revolution were committed in the provinces, and took place not because they were government policy, but because individual representatives on mission had too much free rein (the result not of a totalitarian government, but, to the contrary, of a power vacuum).

I might also add that the Revolution did not target intellectuals - without question as important a point to me as it is to you. The phrase that is sometimes attributed to one revolutionary, sometimes to another, that "the Republic (or the Revolution, depending on the source) has no need of savants" is apochryphal. And would fit rather badly with the founding of museums and the beginnings of the reworkings of the university system at this time, an area I have studied in detail.

Re minority languages I stand by my original statement: it was and remains wrong to try to extirpate them. I understand why this was a policy in the past because I make it my business to understand the mentalities of the periods I study. But I maintain that while having one language that all citizens of the same nation can use to communicate is far from a negative thing, making that the only language acceptable is. I find no contradiction here; to the extent that there is a core belief system to jacobinism, it is the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, and I can find, in no version, accepted or proposed, of said declaration, anything about language dominance.

(I fear we've strayed somewhat far off topic, and so I'll stop here, but know that I have the utmost respect for your opinions and experiences, and in many matters (your reading of Notre-Dame de Paris, for example) I am in entire agreement with you. However, the Revolution is one of the most complicated and multi-faceted events in history. I don't claim to have all the answers concerning it, but I certainly expect than any serious person - as I know you to be - would free him or herself, in their investigation of it, from the current popular platitudes about the equivalence of all revolutions.)
"Quand le gouvernement viole les droits du peuple, l'insurrection est pour le peuple le plus sacré et le plus indispensable des devoirs."
Maximilien Robespierre

"Homine imperito nunquam quidquam iniustius."
Terence

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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby EstelleLaChatte » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:25 pm

Hannah wrote:Also, who gets to decide whether or not there is an alternative? Obviously all revolutionaries believe that there is not a preferable alternative, or they would have done that. And the alternative - to whom is it preferable? For whom is the 'alternative' working?


All your questions are excellent ones, and ones that bear asking. However, I must maintain that it is impossible - or near impossible - to choose whether or not to have a revolution. When a revolution happens, however, it can be a great opportunity for progress and to try to oppose a revolution in the name, not of opposing its ideals, but of a preference for reform over revolution, would be as foolish as thinking you can decide when to have it. I for one do not think evolution is automatically preferable to revolution, for all the reasons you imply. But I don't fool myself into thinking that I, as an individual (or even with a thousand like-minded people), have much of a choice in the matter.
"Quand le gouvernement viole les droits du peuple, l'insurrection est pour le peuple le plus sacré et le plus indispensable des devoirs."
Maximilien Robespierre

"Homine imperito nunquam quidquam iniustius."
Terence

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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby Hannah » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:37 pm

Oh sure, I am not saying that it is a *choice* between revolution and not-revolution, and many many people do get swept up in Circumstances, but people do plan such things, also. I mean, not that things often GO to plan, but many people do sit down and say to each other, THIS IS BAD SOMETHING MUST BE DONE and discuss the Nature of What Must Be Done etc? And the people who eventually DO end up doing what they think Must Be Done are obviously... doing it because they think it Must Be Done. Although yes, I agree that many (perhaps most?) people in such circumstances are often just reacting to events and doing what they can to stay afloat during chaotic times or wev.

...Assuming I have understood you correctly. Um.

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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby EstelleLaChatte » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:01 am

No, I see what you're saying. But the circumstances have to be right for a full-scale revolution to happen. Which is to say, when enough people all realize that things have come to a point where something must be done, a seemingly small event can trigger a revolution. But, ironically, it's more often those who would never want a revolution in a million years who trigger it, performing some action that becomes, as it were, the last straw, than those who would want a revolution. Which is not to say that you can't want a revolution, even plan for what actions to take should one happen, try to convince people of the necessity of one, etc. But you can't make it happen before its time. Which is why I think one's preference for revolution or evolution is a moot point. You force a revolution and you can't unhappen one once it's upon you. That doesn't mean you can't have any influence in either situation or that you can't have principles and must simply go with the flow, it just means that the question of revolution vs. evolution confuses will and power.
"Quand le gouvernement viole les droits du peuple, l'insurrection est pour le peuple le plus sacré et le plus indispensable des devoirs."
Maximilien Robespierre

"Homine imperito nunquam quidquam iniustius."
Terence

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Re: Quatrevingt-treize

Postby between4walls » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:51 am

Anyone else been reading this lately? I'm trying to get everyone I know who likes LM to, but it's an uphill battle... :wink:

Rereading it recently, what stood out most is that Cimourdain repeatedly tries to give Gauvain an out at the end, that Gauvain could totally lie and get away with it, and that it's Gauvain even more than Cimourdain and for his own reasons who forces the strict application of the law to his case. Though of course it wouldn't have happened if Cimourdain had voted to acquit.

The other thing that stood out-- probably because I've started NDDP with its architectural disquisitions and contempt for the "style messidor"-- is the architectural description of the convention, ending in a marvelous shivery paragraph.

"Setting aside all political feeling, and looking at it from an architectural point of view, there was something about this hall that made one shiver. One recalled confusedly, the former theatre, the garlanded boxes, its blue and crimson ceiling, its facetted chandeliers, its girandoles, with diamond reflections, its dove-colored hangings, its profusion of cupids and nymphs on the curtains and draperies, the whole royal and erotic idyl painted, carved and gilded, which had filled this stern place with its smile, and one saw all about him these hard right angles, cold and sharp as steel; it was something like Boucher guillotined by David."
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.


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