Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Meta related to characters, plots, or other elements introduced by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables.
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MmeBahorel
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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:36 pm

Possibly. I'm going to go with something that is not LM as an example.

I've read Brideshead Revisted three times (one of my interests is historical queer fiction, whether it is historical because it is period or if it is modern but set in a historical period). First time, it was patently obvious to me that Charles and Sebastian were in a romantic relationship that continued through Charles entire life even though they were no longer together. Second time, looking for evidence I had been wrong the first time (since Charles later ends up in a heterosexual relationship outside of his marriage), I became convinced that Sebastian was merely a precursor to that het relationship and the characterisation of "romantic friendship" one of the characters in the book gives was correct. This re-read coincided with the release of the new film version that gives more prominence to the het relationship - I was trying to figure out if we read the same book (and I was still trying to figure out if we read the same book and who I have to blame because I adore Andrew Davies' 19th century lit adaptations but this was just rubbish). Third time? I am now absolutely convinced that Charles and Sebastian had a sexual relationship, not merely a romantic one. This last time, however, was a re-read so that I could write Charles/Sebastian relationship fic for someone who requested it, though what really convinced me was a reference later in the novel that doesn't apply to anything directly said earlier in the novel and can make sense only if the scene in which it appears later is directly analogous to a scene that should but does not appear earlier in the novel. (wow, this is starting to get confusing without spoilers: basically, I think Waugh wrote around the gay more than he wrote the gay, and on this reading, I think I found textual evidence of that fact in a way that absolutely convinced me that Charles and Sebastian had sex at least once, whereas before this reading, I was certain that the relationship reached to making out only in terms of physical expression.)

So in the case of Brideshead, I come to a different conclusion about Waugh's work each time I read it because I bring a different lens to each reading. Most works aren't quite that coy about their central relationships - I still can't make Brideshead work entirely with how Waugh ordinarily felt and wrote about gay people.

But the lens you bring to something is also a product of everything you know. So, back to LM, the description of Javert's early career and current position with the police made me stop and go "Wait, what?" because I had been doing background reading in the French policing system (awesome book called Police Stories: Building the French State, 1815-1851, by John Merriman) and things weren't lining up as I had expected. Because I had one set of information that a lot of people didn't, I had to be careful to say "this looks off to me because Merriman, in his book, says such and such". I was viewing that section of Hugo's work from a different lens as other people on this board because I had different information. Career looked thoroughly OK to people, but not to me, because of that extra information.

So back to this thread - someone who deals in autism spectrum disorders on a daily basis is bringing a different lens to the work. Possibly looking for clues (as we tend to do with slash), possibly having a completely different set of background information than the rest of the group so that something jumps out at said person that the rest of the group doesn't understand.

In both cases, it looks less "off" or out of nowhere or wishful thinking if evidence, both from the novel and outside it, is brought to bear. It's merely a matter of explaining your reasoning, showing what lens you are viewing the text from, because many lenses can easily be shared so long as everyone can figure out just what it is that you are doing.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Knitterlywitch
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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby Knitterlywitch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:41 am

Not to digress, but Brideshead Revistied, that was the one with the grown man who had the teddy bear, right?

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Euphrasie
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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby Euphrasie » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:04 am

Yes, Aloysius, the teddy bear.
I'm pretty sure my cat's been reading my diary.

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Knitterlywitch
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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby Knitterlywitch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:07 am

Euphrasie wrote:Yes, Aloysius, the teddy bear.

Sounds cute. Haven't read it yet though. Only heard of it.

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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby Cary » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:05 am

I've held off posting here for some time because I had nothing to contribute to the "is he or isn't he, and why?" discussion. To me, Enjolras, and - the rest of the Amis, really - are not so much actual people as they are a representation of the different *aspects* of the people who might have been involved in revolutionary societies at the time. Either as generalisation/stereotype/symbols - eg. the dedicated student who upheld the republic and liberty and who disdained to stoop to the less-than-perfect human appeals, the workingman who worked to lift himself intellectually from the position he was born in, the generous and charming ladies' man, the hard-luck guy who had nothing and could hold on to nothing etc - that you could perhaps mix and match; or as a spectrum of commitment to the cause (or intensity), from the absolutely dedicated to none at all (with Enjolras and Grantaire at opposite ends, Courfeyrac in the middle, and Combeferre/Feuilly/Jehan on E's half and Bahorel/Joly/Bossuet between C and R. Which is pretty much how they're arranged in the text anyway). (And if you haul Marius in the mix, then there's the triad of Enjolras - who is the figurehead of the revolutionary spirit -, Marius - who is wishy-washy and, has no actual spine and believes things through the influence of others -, and Grantaire, who believes nothing at all). In that light (or with that particular lens!), it was hard for me to actually see Enjolras - or any of the others - as having any kind of condition that wasn't named (with the exception of Joly, of course), which made me feel rather silly about posting anything here at all. Does that make sense?

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Knitterlywitch
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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby Knitterlywitch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:48 pm

Cary wrote:Does that make sense?

Yup. It does. ^_^

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nashie-chan
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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby nashie-chan » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:31 pm

I've been sort of peering through this thread out of curiosity, but was ping'd mostly by Brideshead Revisited.

And Aloysius.

I'd comment on the topic heading but I think everything that should have/could have been said has been said. So...yay teddy bears.
"We will have our day, sailing into the fire!" - Into the Fire, The Scarlet Pimpernel

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MmeFeuilly
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Re: Enjolras on the Autism Spectrum?

Postby MmeFeuilly » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:37 am

If we were playing the game "Enjolras has a special need, what is it?" my answer would be bipolar or OCD (Lemarque's funeral triggering him into a manic state ect. But there are more holes in that theory than in the autism one). I dunno about autistic, I have quite a few people who think I am (I ignore most social cues, most of the time I'm really quiet, I'm really sensitive to light and sound etc) even though I've done almost every test in Canada.
Enjolras could just be a quiet person, methinks. His ideal is what consumes him, and makes him not "normal". But then you just need to think about the writer that shut themselves in the dark for hours to finish their stories, the dancer that practices the same move over and over again, it is the same, in the ways that it makes the person who does it odd, Enjolras was probably just fanatical like that.
As for the bit about social cues, Enjolras lived in a time where people that had money didn't really need to have social skills, seeing as you might be able to buy the person you are with three times over and still not starve. And anyways, the society that he was involved with prior to the ABC has a perversion of what an average society was.
My final point is, most of the time, if someone is at any point of the autism spectrum, they don't want to lead a group. They might be in the loose threads of a group, but lead one through shear carisma?
Either way, this is a really cool theory!
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