Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Any research done in relation to the period of Les Misérables, whether for fanfiction or fanart purposes or otherwise.
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MmeJavert
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Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Postby MmeJavert » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:14 am

wow why am I still awake; it's so far past my bedtime it isn't funny. D:

So obviously if we want to get anywhere on the nerdy masterwork -- or any other interesting fanfic -- we might want to supplement our Brick knowledge with some more history and extensive knowledge of the period.

What books have you read that provide lots of good and useful information? Regardless of whether they're an entertaining read or not, they might provide information. History, other novels set in the period, etc.

And you don't have to limit yourselves to books: online resources such as interesting maps, .pdfs, and other websites are fun too.


Obvious book #1 would be Jill Harsin's Barricades: The War on the Streets in Revolutionary Paris 1830-1848

And of course anything by Jean-Jacques Rousseau...







please mention what language it's in if it's not an English-language resource...
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Postby Marianne » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:02 pm

You know what I really wish I could find a copy of (well, a copy for under €25)? Eugène Sue's Mystères de Paris. How fricking useful--not to mention entertaining--would that be?

I have the sinking feeling that George Sand's Horace would be incredibly relevant too, since it's essentially about the youth of 1832, but finding a copy in French that's not hideously expensive is proving to be quite a task. The English translation is available on Amazon, but my French is getting to the level where I have absolutely no excuse to be buying English translations anymore.

OKAY. I will stop regaling y'all with my wish list and give some actual useful suggestions.

I don't know how recently any of you have been to my website, but I found a wonderfully detailed, high-resolution map of the Paris right bank in 1817--it extends from about Les Halles to the Place des Vosges, aka from the barricade to Hugo's old apartment. (Tucked away in the Sewer Museum part of the tour guide are also maps of the public wells and the sewer system.)

Wikipedia also has a somewhat blurry map of the Paris omnibus routes in 1828.

The Parisian Worlds of Frédéric Chopin is good for everyday-life stuff, and also has a fairly detailed section on Polish émigrés. Just beware of dates; it covers everything from 1830 to the mid-1840s, so there's information on things like trains that would be anachronistic for LM fic.

Another book that's explicitly a guide to everyday-life details is What Charles Dickens Ate & Jane Austen Knew, which is very Anglocentric but many details are cross-cultural.

Pretty much any literature set between, say, 1815 and 1848 is good for cultural details and general character mindsets. Balzac, Stendhal, Sand, both Dumases, Murger... for an extra bonus, the French Wikipedia has "1828 in literature," "1829 in literature," etc. articles that list works published in a particular year. So something you're reading for research can end up being something your character is reading for fun.

Oh, and if there is slash, take a look at Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century.

It is also quite rare to find an edition of Hernani that doesn't have extensive notes explaining its cultural significance, the Battle of Hernani, etc. Mine even has examples of what features of Hugo's verse were considered particularly scandalous by the classicists.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Postby bigR » Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:20 am

Yes. A bibliography would be a wonderful idea. I know there were some wonderful links in the "research squee" thread, but we could use something a little bit more organized.

Books:
I recently bought "Barricades", and "Paris between empires" but I still haven't had time to go through them.
I would love to have a look at that “Paris au temps des Misérables” Marianne talked about, but I am completely broke and I haven’t been able to purchase it yet.

For information on every day life, Balzac novels are invaluable.
You can find everything in there: clothes, restaurants, shops, theatre, prices for nearly everything you can think about...

A good biography on Victor Hugo is also useful. Mine has plenty of useful details on everyday life, but it also mentions a lot of facts and people who may have inspired Les Amis personalities. And of course, it has info about the Hernani première.


Interesting links.


Marianne posted two wonderful links about student life some time ago:
http://www.bium.univ-paris5.fr/histmed/ ... uault2.pdf
(It’s mainly about medical students but it has a lot of info on student’s life in Paris that we all can use, and it provides a lot of generic student information, like “summer holidays didn’t exist in 1830”).

http://www.jstor.org/pss/396387?cookieSet=1
Générations romantiques: les étudiants et le quartier latin (1814-1851)

Some interesting links about secret societies and conspiracies (unfortunately, in french) There is very interesting info about how they worked, how they were organized:

Conspiration La Fayette:
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiration_La_Fayette

Société des Saisons :
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soci%C3%A9 ... es_saisons

Société des Droits de l’homme (this one probably inspired Hugo’s ABC)
http://www.google.es/search?q=societe+d ... 1I7GGLD_es

This is probably only useful for Pie and her Combeferre: on French feminism on the 19th century:
http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/book-sum/moses1.html

I have a handful of great links about the saint-simonians but they are all in French, and although they are so fun that it would be a pity not to write about them, I’m not sure that would be considered generic biography.


On more frivolous matters. Links:

Dance-halls (with pic from the 30’s):
http://compagnie.danse.19e.free.fr/Le-b ... nelagh.php

Here is a petit glossaire de la prostitution http://www.insenses.org/chimeres/glossaire.html It’s mostly 19th century and even if your boys are not very debauched some of the entries like “ami de coeur” “demi-mondaine”, “fille à parties”, lorette” or “maison close” can be useful for many of us.

Cordelier posted these fashion links:

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/16/arts/ ... wanted=all
http://romancereaderatheart2.com/victor ... 820_1.html
http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/c ... d=80002252
Last edited by bigR on Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby bigR » Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:00 am

One more link.
It's in french once again, but for those who can read it, it has a LOT of info on clothes, cafés, restaurants, night life. etc...
http://www.paris-pittoresque.com/costumes/index.htm
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Postby Mamselle Miss » Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:42 pm

So I was looking around on Amazon and SQUEEE! At least for me.

And if anyone can find some information in English on French prisons in the early 19th century, let me know. I already have Vidoq's memoirs, but I'd like something a little less...egocentric.
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Postby bigR » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:32 am

I don't know about any history books. You can always have a look at the last part of Balzac's "courtisanes", "la dernière incarnation de vautrin" that takes part inside the prison of the Conciergerie (it explains rather extensively how the prison was organized).
If you want something by Hugo, you can always have a look at "Claude Gueux". I wouldn't trust too much Hugo's accuracy, but it happens entirely in prison and it is quite interesting because it contains several of Hugo obsessions about death penalty, unfair laws, prison breeds criminals, etc... also, his Claude Gueux is obviously an early version of Jean Valjean.
Hugo says that he is telling the true story of Claude Gueux, who was sentenced to death penalty in 1832 because he killed a prison officer, but the truth is that he changes a lot of things from the real character to make him more admirable: he is very intelligent, extraordinarely strong, laconic, very well respected by the other prisoners, virtous, became a criminal because his child was dying of hunger, a victim of the system... he is not entirely virginal because he had a daugther, but he is as pure as a father can be, because, obvioulsy Hugo disguised Claude's homosexual relationship with the pretty blonde prisoner (a rather important point in the plot because it originates the whole big drama) to make it appear as some kind of fatherlike relationship... (which it also very pre-valjean. the main character is ready to kill anyone who wants to take away from him the only thing/person he loves in this world and makes his live worth living).

In any case, Claude Gueux is more about life in the "bagne" while Balzac's "vautrin" is more about preventive prison in Paris, so even if Claude is very interesting from a litterary point of view, "Vautrin" is probably more interesting for you Feuilly
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Postby Mamselle Miss » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:18 pm

Thanks bigR, those look like they could really help.


I've only skimmed through it so far, but The World of the Paris Cafe by W. Scott Haine looks like a good resource for all sorts of everyday life stuff, and some political stuff too.
Laughter is not all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.

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Postby Marianne » Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:11 am

Google books has an English translation of Dumas' memoirs, which includes a 100+ page description of the July Revolution as well as accounts of the Hernani opening, all the theater worth talking about from the period, and various other interesting things.

Note that page 110 of the volume I linked to has the story of Dumas becoming instant buddies with a tall pretty blond student who accidentally whacks him in the shin with a pickaxe while tearing up paving stones. Which... I can't quite picture Enjolras being that ungraceful, but it's still a hilarious mental image.

Theoretically I am only supposed to be reading the part about the revolution for French class, so I haven't seen what he has to say about Hernani yet, but the 30 pages of "yay revolution, Christmas come early!" that I've read so far include cameos from Armand Carrel, François and Étienne Arago, Cuvier, and Victor Hugo's brother-in-law. And it's Dumas so of course it's entertaining.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Postby bigR » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:25 am

Oh, I forgot. A couple of weeks ago France 2 showed a screen adaptation of Claude Gueux. I sitll haven't had a chance to watch it, but I have it in my computer and I am uploading to megaupload. The movie runs for about 30 minutes and it is entirely in french without any subtitles but if anyone in interested you can PM me and I'll send you the link.

(I just started uploading though and I am leaving for the beach in about seven hours, which means that I am not sure the link will be ready before I leave. If it isn't I wont be able to send it until I am back next monday)
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Re: Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Postby Usefulbeauty » Fri Jul 16, 2010 4:59 am

I'm reviving this for education reasons. :)

I'm a homeschooler, which means that high school is all pretty and shiny and "you can learn what you want as long as you learn a lot of hours worth of it!" which basically means that I have to choose a subject for something, learn about it via books, museums, classes, etc, and then count and record the hours I spend learning it. A certain number of hours equals a credit.
So I decided that for History, I'm going to try to earn some credit for the Romantic Era. I already have a big stack of Romantic Era novels and nonfiction books about that time, but I figured I'd ask here first: what books would you guys recommend on the politics, culture, and everyday life of that time?
Let us read and let us dance--two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
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Re: Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Postby Marianne » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:06 pm

Balzac. Lots and lots of Balzac. It's an education in and of itself on the workings of Romantic-era French society. Sometimes it's slow reading, quite often it's horrifically depressing, but it's always educational. His oeuvre is dauntingly huge, and I've just started to dip my toes in myself, but as a starting point I would recommend reading Le Père Goriot, Illusions Perdues, and Splendeurs et Misères des courtisanes as a trilogy. (I believe the usual English titles are Old Goriot, Lost Illusions, and A Harlot High and Low.) If you can find annotated editions, get them.

For lighter reading, Mysteries of Paris is excellent and educational and entertaining, and I believe an English translation is available on Google books. In terms of themes it's also very closely linked to Les Mis and Hugo's pet obsessions--crime, punishment, the lower classes, how poverty and misery spawn criminals, even odd little details like argot and mysterious wealthy gentlemen who live in the Rue Plumet.

Also, the prologue to "The Confession of a Child of the Century" (or whatever the crap they're calling it in English) is short and invaluable if you're interested in the whole generation of youth that were born during the Napoleonic wars and cast adrift during the Restoration. The book itself is mostly a thinly-veiled avatar of Alfred de Musset being a complete dick to a thinly-veiled avatar of George Sand, but the prologue is not directly related to that and is almost a section of poetry-in-prose about the "children of the century."

For nonfiction primary sources, try memoirs and correspondence (AFAIK most of George Sand's letters have been published, and Dumas's memoirs are, as mentioned upthread, hilarious although their classification as 'nonfiction' is dubious). If you're interested in the crime and punishment aspect, Vidocq's memoirs are fun, and Parent-Duchâtelet's report on prostitution in Paris is interesting and somewhat disturbing.

If your French is good, you might want to scare up a student edition of Hernani. The play itself is mediocre, but any decent student version will have extensive supplements about the theatrical wars of the time, the Romantic revolution in art, the battle of Hernani, what specifically was considered revolutionary in the play, etc.

Annotation is important--the key to understanding some of these books more fully is to get all the allusions to public figures/events of the time and what they signified in the general consciousness. Hugo isn't the only one who tosses them around like Wikipedia links.

As far as secondary sources, any of the books mentioned upthread are fine. Barricades, Paris Between Empires, The Parisian Worlds of Frederic Chopin... I would also recommend a general history of the French Revolution and a general history of the Napoleonic wars if you're not extremely familiar with them.

(You might want to choose between Balzac and Mysteries of Paris though, or only read excerpts of each--between the two of them, that's like 3500 pages. In small type on large pages.)

If you live anywhere near the Washington DC area, I could lend you some of my big ol' coffee-table books, like "Paris in the Time of Balzac" and the museum book for the Carnavalet "Paris in the Time of Les Misérables" exhibit.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Postby Usefulbeauty » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:51 pm

Wow! Thank you for all that information! That's enough to keep me geeking out (er, learning things so the colleges will be impressed) for a long time. :)
Let us read and let us dance--two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
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Re: Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Postby Marianne » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:30 am

Oh believe me, colleges will be impressed. :lol: I took a course called "The Year 1830" that was specifically about Romantic-era France, and all we read was Hernani, a Balzac short story/novella, about two-thirds of The Red and the Black, and a few excerpts of memoirs that touched on the July Revolution. It was the quintessential exercise in getting academic credit for geekery, and it barely scratched the surface of my reading list. Also see France in the Age of Les Misérables, which is probably right up your alley and is the result of a credit-for-geekery college course.

Let me know if there are any sub-areas you want to concentrate on, because it's often easier to recommend sources with a specific topic in mind. Like, for journalism and the role of the press, you'd want Lost Illusions, a few good books on the July Revolution or Daumier's caricatures, and possibly Popkin's Press, Revolution, and Social Identities in France 1830-1835. For Romanticism in literature and theatre there's a whole bunch of places to start even if you don't read French verse, but I'm thinking Hernani, the preface to Cromwell, the preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin, and whatever Romantic theatre you can turn up on Google books (Hugo and Dumas wrote loads, and anything gothic/medieval/fantastic/Shakespearean is a likely candidate). And for crime and punishment the field is vast. Excerpts of Vidocq's memoirs, excerpts of Parent-Duchâtelet's report on prostitution, Claude Gueux, The Last Day of a Condemned Man, an abridged Mysteries of Paris, and the final volume (The Last Incarnation of Vautrin) of A Harlot High and Low would provide more than enough material for a college course. And that's not even counting high-profile criminal cases (Lacenaire comes to mind, as does Ulbach's murder of the shepherdess of Ivry), or the stuff in Les Mis, which plays off of all of the above.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Postby Frédérique » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:15 pm

Just listing a few more books which I've not remotely read from cover to cover but found extremely useful for looking up specific tidbits -
- Jerold Seigel's "Bohemian Paris. Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Social Life, 1830-1930", which obviously covers a much broader era but gives you an idea of the public and private goings-on in the Quartier Latin (later Montmartre, ...) at the time (it's also one of these books that takes care to confront confirmable facts with representation in fiction, which can be very interesting when looking at the mythical stereotype of The Grisette, for example)
- Amy Wiese Forbes' "The Satiric Decade. Satire and the Rise of Republicanism in France, 1830-1840", which is very specifically satire-centred (er, unsurprisingly) but firstly makes caricatures that could be indecipherable in all their depth unless you've been buried in the era for ages (looking at a fair amount of members of this forum!) a little clearer and secondly obviously incorporates politics as well as developments in the arts scene
and (again rather specific)
- "Threshold of a New World. Intellectuals and the Exile Experience in Paris, 1830-1848" by Lloyd S. Kramer, which has a lot to say about (you guessed it) the huge amount of foreigners in Paris (especially Poles and Germans [lots of Mickiewicz and Heine]) and the exchange of political and literary influence between them and the local artists and intellectuals.
If you read French, by all means get
- "Les Romantiques 1820-1848" by Anne Martin-Fugier. What it does is basically take all the memoirs and letters and filter out the most reliable information/confront the conflicting reports, making for a varied and entertaining view of how everyone active in any field (literature/theatre, music, visual art) (the Hugo/Berlioz/Delacroix trinity is the starting point for much branching out) perceived the era at the time as well as how they reflected on it later on top of discussing the actual works they produced (but there's not such a lot of that, so if you are going for the spirit of the age rather than hardcore analysis of its literature, this is the book to pick up).

Adding to the memoirs list, again, if you read French, you might want to have a look at half of everything Théophile Gautier wrote in his later years (I ... never yet worked out what the actual title of 'Gautier's mémoirs' is, but the "Histoire du romantisme" collection has everything you could ask for as far as the Hugo circle for one is concerned) as well as Delphine de Girardin's "Lettres parisiennes" (published initially under the moniker of the Vicomte de Launay).

(And if you're going to do "Mademoiselle de Maupin", whose first ... sixty pages [famous prologue not counted] or so really elaborately prefigure the whole concept of mal-du-siècle [as does Musset. all the time. apparently it makes no difference at which end of a century you consider yourself to stand]-- complement it with Sand's "Lélia". Not just because they're both notorious for their queerish content but because they both do that quintessentially Romantic stream-of-consciousness hours-of-agonised-self-reflection thing [and do it a lot more bearably than the father of that art form in France, Chateaubriand]. And because it's just an amazingly ahead-of-its-time novel and the best thing to go for in Sand's fiction [there's a lot] if you don't either intend to read all of it or are interested in specific topics.)
(Speaking of 'there's a lot', if you do want to delve into Sand and Balzac and have no idea where to start - apart from Marianne's recommendation of the Goriot/Illusions/Splendeurs trilogy, which I heartily second, as well as that of "Horace", which, apart from having the 1832 insurrection in it, takes a grand sweep and incorporates everything from artisans to bousingots, a rather Balzacian/Stendhalian aristocratic lady, Saint-Simonianism, and bits of feminism, and is just generally a fabulous read - but a vague idea of what you're looking for [and you can really get everything in them, from Everybody Who Survived The Russian Campaign Has A Crack Running Through Their Brain to Why You Shouldn't Shack Up With Gloomy Eastern European Artist Types], hit me up, 'cause I read them for a living. Sort of.)

You may also want to look into the two major French utopian socialists, Saint-Simon and Fourier. I've not been in contact with any primary sources for the former, but you can get much of "Le Phalanstère" (the journal in which the latter and his followers propagated much of their ideas) on Gallica. But it's really one of the outermost edges of nerdiness :D
Generally speaking, if you've either the time to trawl through a lot or some specific day-to-day developments to check on, there is really nothing better than the periodicals digitalised on Gallica.fr (which was recommended by a user on this forum but is really not getting the exposure it deserves here [unless everybody is merely assuming that everybody else has long been making the most of it] - what ever obscure French text you may wish to look at, be it prose fiction [it's got the illustrated oeuvres of everybody! so much fashion! so many people who are blatantly not as blond as they ought to be!], poetry, journalism, scientific treatise [you could just about trace the entire history of neurology in France there], government reports, or correspondence ... if they don't have it, nobody [on the internet, or in a library that is not in France and probably requires you to have multiple doctor titles to get access to] has). It also has out-of-print biographies of every individual you might conceive of (Nerval and Borel come to mind from the Romantic generation, but there's also lots to be found on the Great Revolution), though it's important to take these with a pinch of salt in the same manner as the memoirs, as they date from an era where biography definitely did not come with two hundred pages of footnotes detailing the sources for every statement.

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Re: Suggestions for Further Nerdy Reading

Postby MmeJavert » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:26 am

Amazon Listmania for Bousingot and Frenetic Romanticism

I was talking to Despard and she told me about the wonderful bio of Borel that she was reading, and a quick glance at Amazon (seriously. It took 45 seconds from the time I started wondering about this bio until I came across this) found me this list.

I swear to god if I had a larger paycheck on a regular basis I'd click the "buy them all now" button and sit back and wait for them all to arrive!

This makes me curious to see what other Listmania lists might exist on Amazon, which would be relevant to us. Besides the one Marianne created which she may/may not have posted here previously...
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"


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