Unanswered Questions

Meta related to characters, plots, or other elements introduced by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables.
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deHavilland
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Re: Unanswered Questions

Postby deHavilland » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:05 am

Jehans Rose wrote:Thanks for the clarification. Hugo was a genius to give such realism to his work, he kind of reminds me of Gaston Leroux. I once read that the Phantom of the Opera was, to some extent, a true story and he had cleverly blended fiction with reality.


Which would mean that Gaston Leroux accomplished the goal he set out to achieve by writing in the style that he did. The Phantom of the Opera is a work of fiction, with enough factual elements from the time -- the fact that the basement of the Palais Garnier suffers from an unusually high level of groundwater, for example -- to make the story seem believable and confuse the reader into questioning what is fact and what is fiction. It's rather like the concept of writing historical fiction: the point is to make your setting and story believable if not necessarily true or accurate.

The realism (or supposed realism) in the writings of both Leroux and Hugo is a similarity, certainly, but the really interesting connection is with Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris, where Hugo does the same as Leroux did with Phantom -- although eighty years previously -- in taking a particular setting that is so filled with accurate detail that he makes a case for the existence of a real Quasimodo who is as engrained in peoples' perception of Notre Dame as Leroux's Erik is associated with the opera house.
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Re: Unanswered Questions

Postby EnjysVest » Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:43 am

I have a random question!!
So, I realize l'Amis are not as fervently revolutionary in the Brick as in the musical; they are more like intellectuals who focus on politics. But still, Enjolras has been whipping them into shape, sending them to recruit people and whatnot. So, when Lamarque's funeral comes around, and Enjolras and half of Paris are planning an insurrection, why on earth would Joly and Bossuet be sitting around in Corinth? How could two members of the ABC so blatantly not care? Maybe it says in the Brick somewhere and I'm missing it...?

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MmeBahorel
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Re: Unanswered Questions

Postby MmeBahorel » Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:08 am

Your first statement is wrong. If they were intellectuals who focus on politics (which was totally a thing!), they wouldn't have built a barricade. Hugo elides a bunch of activity that they must have been involved with previously, but he also directly links them to known revolutionary cells (the Cougourde of Aix, Prouvaire's name probably a reference to the plot in the rue des Prouvaires though it was a legitimist plot, and Enjolras got his bottles of acid from a dude who had assisted in plots to kill Louis Philippe - Fieschi). They're also collecting weapons and materiel, hiding stuff under Courfeyrac's laundry. They are patently not "intellectuals who focus on politics" - they are hard-core, overthrowing the government by force revolutionaries. Hugo just shows, because he has the space Boublil and Kretzmer didn't, that they also have personal lives.

Joly's excuse is he has a cold. Bossuet is attached to him at the hip, so of course he can't be expected to separate himself (ok, yes, this part is sarcastic). Enjolras knows they aren't coming to the funeral and at the very least suspects that they will be hanging out at Corinthe and will participate in the action because he sends Navet with a message and is fairly deliberately in the area anyway. Joly and Bossuet absolutely care - Joly even has a line "Ah, the emeute! I'm in for that!" He's skipping out on the funeral in the rain, which is perfectly reasonable for a guy with a cold, and who would blame his best friend for keeping him company? They stay within contact, they are ready at a moment's notice, and Enjolras is willing to build the barricade there when he comes through because it is a good location (something that was probably noticed though not necessarily articulated long before 5 June 1832). If he had chosen another place, Joly has already stated he's joining the emeute, so it's plausible to believe that he and Bossuet would go with the group.

If there are any references you don't understand (Hugo uses a LOT of references), go to the Read Through threads here. I've dumped a ton of footnotes and wikipedia links in there that may help with some of this background info that Hugo assumes his French readers would have had. Pretty sure the political stuff went over American heads in 1862, too - it's fairly specific and covers the whole July Monarchy as he combines and elides things and has personal feelings about Louis Philippe. (whose great crime as Hugo is writing this is having to stand in for Louis Napoleon - Hugo liked Louis Philippe, so things get weird in places.)
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

EnjysVest
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Re: Unanswered Questions

Postby EnjysVest » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:38 pm

Thanks for the explanation! I shouldn't have categorized them so strongly. I guess I hadn't really distinguished the funeral and the emeute; I hadn't accounted for Laigle's line "...we can miss the funeral, without missing the emeute." I suppose I was also confused by how calm they seem, but the Amis are always relatively unflappable, even when they are about to die. They show that they are brave, not uncaring, by their willingness to die.
I misunderstood Enjolras' "ABC" as "why aren't you at the funeral," but re-reading it, it makes a lot more sense that he is just trying to stay in contact, since he knew to send Navet to Corinthe. [quote="MmeBahorel" If there are any references you don't understand (Hugo uses a LOT of references), go to the Read Through threads here.[/quote]
That helped a lot (especially with Grantaire's passages!).

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Re: Unanswered Questions

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:45 pm

One thing I never really understood: if the Thenardiers are dirt-poor, how'd they get Patron-Minette, who seen to be kind of big shots, as far as street thugs go, anyway, to do jobs for them? Are they friends of theirs (if the Thenardiers having friends is at all possible) who do pro-bono robberies for them?
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MmeBahorel
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Re: Unanswered Questions

Postby MmeBahorel » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:14 pm

This falls under "Hugo doesn't understand crime". Remember, Patron-Minette controls all the muggings - ALL OF THEM - in the Paris basin. Nothing has to make sense.

Really, they seem to be using him, possibly because Parnasse has a thing for his daughter. There seem to be connections - Boulatruelle - that go back to before Thénardier came to Paris, so perhaps those connections drive what he did when he came to the city after losing the inn. Magnon is thoroughly involved with the gang as well, and we don't know who pointed her in the direction of the Thénardier boys. There are just enough connections there to get him started and if he isn't entirely useless, to keep him around a bit, but he certainly isn't doing well from this arrangement, so the arrangement can't be all that close. He's integrated, but probably not more than the list of names we never actually see appear as characters. Demi-Liard, Barrecarrosse, Homère Hogu have plots, too, but we don't see them because they don't involve Jean Valjean.

Babet , at the rue Plumet, refers to their mark as probably a Jew. This is telling as to the amount of profit he's anticipating from the robbery and probably entirely explains why they are even assisting at round two on this. They being the "not Parnasse" guys, as we know Parnasse is carrying all the water here because he has a thing for Éponine.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard


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