Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Any research done in relation to the period of Les Misérables, whether for fanfiction or fanart purposes or otherwise.
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moderntrickster
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Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby moderntrickster » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:26 pm

As far as I can tell, Enjolras is 26 in 1832 and I assume the rest of Les Amis are within a two to three years on either side of him. They're all called students or considered students, but the research I've done on the French education system leads me to believe that secondary education ends at 21 for most boys. So I guess my first question is what are they doing to still be considered students in their mid-to-late 20's? Obviously there's a gaping hole in my research, that I'm very aware of and looking to fill.

I know from researching bohemian culture that, in London, the dandies in particular were "career students". It was very popular for boys from wealthy families to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge and sort of float around university for several years until their fathers eventually brow-beat them into getting real jobs (as if any of them actually did). Was it similar with the upper-class in France, then?

My second question is potentially more difficult to answer. The only significant military movement I know of around that time was the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis in 1823, but were there any other movements, skirmishes, battles, etc between 1819 and 1830 that would have called on an army presence? I know the answer is probably no because this seemed to be a rather sedate time for France (after getting annihilated in Russia and at Waterloo), but I figured I'd ask people who have no doubt researched more - and better - than I have.

Additionally, if anyone can think of any reason why someone would become monumentally disillusioned with not only the nation (Empire?) but with God and faith and... everything, leaving him a shattered fragment of the boy he once was, I'm happy to take suggestions that would lead me down a road other than military service.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give and I'm sorry if my questions are tedious.
Suffering seems to be the inevitable fate of the creative sensitive types. Poverty, disease, death, unrequited love affairs, and disappointments of every sort fan the flame of the artistic spirit. - Henry Miller

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:14 pm

I think we had a discussion here once about how someone could end up a law student indefinitely.

Disillusioned? Ending up on the wrong side of the system---from prosperity to life as a gamin, can do things to someone's psyche.
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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby moderntrickster » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:58 pm

I'll have to dig around for it!

I was trying to think of other things that could estrange someone from his bourgeois family, and there are a handful of other avenues to go down to mitigate not having any substantial national conflicts. I have a few options, but hearing what other people think and gathering knowledge from various other sources is always a good thing in my book.
Suffering seems to be the inevitable fate of the creative sensitive types. Poverty, disease, death, unrequited love affairs, and disappointments of every sort fan the flame of the artistic spirit. - Henry Miller

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby MmeBahorel » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:08 am

A few of the education issues:

Things are a little screwy in this period. There's no degree granting institution that will let someone bum around for 8 years "studying" classics like Oxbridge. The legitimate degree granting schools were: Law, Medicine, Normal (teaching), and Polytechnic (which pretty much put you into the army). The university existed, with Department of Sciences and Department of Arts and Letters, but these are not institutions in which you enroll, choose a course of study, and get a degree.

The only way you can bum around and be a student at a government-supported institution (and all formal education at this time is government-supported) is to study law. The law school doesn't care how many times you take or don't take exams. The medical school cares a lot and it's very hard to get into. You pretty much cannot screw up at the Normal School - it's as regimented as the Polytechnique, really.

However: there are private classes. You won't get a degree, but there are private teachers that do extra medical subjects or med school prep (the collèges royaux were terrible at science education and it was common for an interested young man to do a year of med school prep before applying). Art students studied with a master, not through the Ecole des Beaux Arts. I haven't yet figured out the other ways in which you could socially still be considered a student, but I rather suspect there are.

the bigger question is actually not how Bahorel is still pretending to be a student after 11 years of not becoming a lawyer, but how Marius afforded the exam fees to finish his education. He probably could have stopped going to class entirely but so long as he expressed a vague intention of doing something next semester (always next semester), he'd probably still be able to call himself a student.

As for upheavals/conflicts/events that might overthrow a person entirely, try some scrolling through my timeline of events from 1800 to 1833. I add to it as I find events that are even vaguely interesting, so it has a wide variety, from murders that took the country by storm to weather information to basic political changes through this era. Depending on your dates, 1816 and 1817 were awful, awful years, where the country was still occupied, political machinations were all over the place, and even the weather seemed to have conspired to keep everyone down (thanks to a volcanic explosion in Indonesia in 1815). But there might be something in there that will help you - a big chunk of those entries is wiki-able and the rest should be able to be searched for through Google Books.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby moderntrickster » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:55 am

I want to say first, MmeBahorel, that I've read a lot of your posts and replies around the forum before joining and you're easily one of the top three most helpful people I've come across in regards to history and information that a well-informed fanwriter should know. So thank you so, so much for that. I'm horribly under-read on French history and not only have I been able to fill in some gaps thanks to your info, but you've honestly made me want to learn more too.

Now that I'm done gushing -

Your breakdown of the education system and the ins and outs, compared with the technical levels and details that I've found elsewhere, is incredibly helpful. I think I understand better how things worked out in that regard. At least it fills in the holes that were left by other sources. I took a look at your timeline last night (found a link in the thread about character ages), but I think tonight I'll do better than just skimming over it. It's such a great resource to have and thank you for maintaining it!

Okay, maybe I wasn't done gushing yet. ;)

I'm working out some sort of complicated Grantaire backstory that another Les Mis fan and I worked out over the weekend and I wanted to actually fill in all the ideas that we had with facts and historical background. Some things had to be adjusted, of course, but the threads here and other fans have been extremely helpful.
Suffering seems to be the inevitable fate of the creative sensitive types. Poverty, disease, death, unrequited love affairs, and disappointments of every sort fan the flame of the artistic spirit. - Henry Miller

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:03 am

If you'd like to find Grantaire's contemporaries in Gros' shop, start with the short list at Art Renewal Center's Gros page, but also remember that Gros took in more pupils than anyone. A search on Google Books for "'Antoine Jean Gros' pupil" or "'Antoine Jean Gros' student" will help you find even more minor artists.

I'm glad to be helpful and not come across as a know-it-all. If you read French, I can give you the links to the education sources I use.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby moderntrickster » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:13 am

It's been so long since I read the book (and even then it was an abridged version found in my highschool library) that I don't remember what was in the book and what is headcanon from various other places. It's becoming a problem. XD

From what I've gathered so far, there was no age limit on that sort of study - the informal tutelage kind. So is it realistic that this could be something that someone picked up after attempting, and failing, at another profession. I suppose the question here is whether a master artist would pick up a student who was in his mid to late 20's and hadn't studied under anyone before?

I noticed in looking through your timeline that the blue dates are personal headcanon. Do we have an resources for canon ages? I suppose I saw them all being between 23 and 25, save Marius who was a few years younger and Grantaire who was (at least) five years older. Of course that might just be me trying to shoehorn him into the backstory I want him in.

Ah, well... I know Quebecois, which isn't really helpful when it comes to reading French, so yes and no, but mostly no. XD But you don't come across as a know-it-all at all! I really appreciate every bit of information I can wring out of someone - not only for writing, but because I find a lot of value in having acquaintances who know things that I don't!

I was going to ask if you had any resources on the kind of living situations Les Amis would be in, but I weirdly managed to stumble across a (very long, still reading it) article discussing exactly that. I feel like I'm asking a LOT of questions here, so it's just one less thing to make myself a nuisance with!
Suffering seems to be the inevitable fate of the creative sensitive types. Poverty, disease, death, unrequited love affairs, and disappointments of every sort fan the flame of the artistic spirit. - Henry Miller

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby Mlle_Alexandrie » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:19 pm

I don't know if you've seen this before, or how helpful it will even be, really, but it's worth taking a look: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255/ :)
"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby moderntrickster » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:24 pm

Weirdly, I seem to have that link bookmarked! It just got lost in the mountain that is my bohemian history folder. Most of my research on the era is centered on England and Germany, so there's a hole where France is concerned and I'm doing my best not to bank on the assumption that things are the same from one country to the other, but I see that a lot of things are similar enough that I'm not learning a new system completely from scratch - which is a relief.

Thank you for the resource, though! If you hadn't linked it, I probably wouldn't have found it for ages. :D
Suffering seems to be the inevitable fate of the creative sensitive types. Poverty, disease, death, unrequited love affairs, and disappointments of every sort fan the flame of the artistic spirit. - Henry Miller

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:31 am

The timeline version I've linked in this thread is cleared of all my personal fanon - any dates of birth are derived from clues Hugo left us (character age, Bahorel's "student of the eleventh year" status, that sort of thing). The only potentially hinky thing left is General Pontmercy's death, but again, that's following clues Hugo left.

As for Grantaire's artistic education, Gros was notorious for taking anyone who paid. So long as you keep it earlier than 1828, I don't think it'll matter too much. Hugo chose Gros because Gros was notorious for taking anyone who would pay.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Education levels, and a spot of military history.

Postby moderntrickster » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:39 am

I need to go write out my own timeline now. :D

All of this works out really well for what I'm doing and I hope now that I have a semi-concrete idea of where he's been I can figure out where I'm going with him and actually, you know, write something.
Suffering seems to be the inevitable fate of the creative sensitive types. Poverty, disease, death, unrequited love affairs, and disappointments of every sort fan the flame of the artistic spirit. - Henry Miller


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