Some attention for Lesgle

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MmeBahorel
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Some attention for Lesgle

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:37 am

Nobody talks about Bossuet much in meta terms, unless it's to complain that "unlucky" and "clutz" are not synonyms, but maybe we should.

Hugo deliberately sets Lesgle apart in several ways from the other students:
1) He does not come from the Midi
2) We know precisely what his father did for a living
3) The exact nature and scope of his family property is specified

There are a few things here to parse. For one, in not coming from the south, Lesgle is not a foreigner in Paris. Meaux is in the Paris basin; even if one logically argues that he came to Meaux only when his father was granted the directorship of the post office there, he is most proximately from the same pays in which he currently resides. In a world where there is a distinct north/south sociocultural divide, Lesgle is in his own territory. The others have to contend with the north/south divide on a daily basis - accents can mark them as foreign, the notion that heat does terrible things to a man's brain and that's why creoles are little better than Africans and look at the mess that is Italy so of course our southern departments are backwards compared to our northern industrial giants, etc. This is interesting! The rest of them are, if not quite misfits in Paris, possibly drawn to each other for cultural reasons. They are together, rather than scattered among other revolutionary groups, because of a shared socio-cultural background. Lesgle, as a native, is therefore an outsider in this group. He may be attracted to it for reasons beyond an incredibly close friendship with Joly.

As for part 2, I've done a bunch of digging on the postal service, and I've posted the results here. In short, the details Hugo gives us lead me to believe Lesgle has had a more uprooted life than was typical even for that era of war. This may explain part of why he doesn't seem to much mind jags of homelessness - he wasn't properly rooted even before he lost his inherited tie to the land, so couch surfing doesn't engender the same feeling of dynastic failure that someone who lost serious property might have.

It wasn't even much in terms of property - Lesgle family was either on the way down without Bossuet's help anyway, or he simply failed to achieve another rung on a precarious social ladder that there wasn't enough family backing for anyway. A house and a field are nice, as is the directorship of a post office, but they aren't enough to qualify to vote, and socially, you are probably poorer than the other government functionaries in Meaux except for the police commissioner, so your social group is economically out of your league. Losing the property meant losing the income, but having the property was probably doing Lesgle little good in Meaux in the ways that matter. This may also have made it easier to shrug off the loss.

So, let's think about poor Bossuet, always facing Mephistopheles cheerfully. I suspect he gets little thought because he faces his misfortunes so well that he convinces everyone else to forget them, too.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

Alouette
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Re: Some attention for Lesgle

Postby Alouette » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:19 pm

I like this idea! Just on the geographical theme, I stayed just outside Meaux for a couple of weeks when I was on a school exchange programme and while it is clearly part of the Paris hinterland, it also struck me as being very parochial. It's a small town and the surrounding area is pure farmland. Driving into Paris is a big deal. One concrete thing is that people kiss four times, which probably seems so quaint to Parisians. One or maybe two kisses is more common there, and that's an example of Parisians' perceived snobbery compared to other French people. If all that was the case in 2003, imagine how much bigger the contrast must have been in the early 19th century.

So while Lesgle is on his turf in Paris as you say, and he was probably attracted to his group of friends in part because of their foreignness, I would say that he didn't fully belong himself, that he was slightly out of his depth in the big city. Which could also have been part of the attraction.

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Re: Some attention for Lesgle

Postby Tapferhills » Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:26 am

Excellent points! I really like the thought that everyone forgets about his troubles because he so cheerfully shrugs them off. It would be so easy for Lesgle to be a Grantaire – moping and drinking his misfortunes away. Instead, he shows us what Grantaire could have been – laughing and leading in the face of danger, teasing and devising with Enjolras.

One thing I noticed was that he was a very prominent member of the barricade scenes. Although Courfeyrac is described as the center (and proves it during the café scenes), I would argue that Lesgle actually shares and usurps the role from him during the battle. (To be fair to Courfeyrac, Hugo pretty much shoves him aside so that Marius can be the third of the triumvirate.) But Bossuet is present and visible in a majority of the scenes; whether teasing the cannons, swapping philosophical jokes with Courfeyrac, or discussing tactics with Enjolras.

And that really surprised me when reading - the level of camaraderie between him and Enjolras. Those two almost never talk to each other in fandom – most of that owing to, as you said, Lesgle being overlooked – but even in Hugo’s descriptions, they seem to have so little in common. And especially with Bossuet not being at the funeral for the start of the riot with the rest of the main gang, it’s easy to think he’s not that dedicated and, as such, would not be high up on Enjolras’s radar. And yet, he and Enjolras swap a few comments about tactics off and on through the fight. And it’s Enjolras who sends the message to him about the riot getting underway.

I know, not much, but it was more interaction than I expected.

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Chantefleurie
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Re: Some attention for Lesgle

Postby Chantefleurie » Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:31 am

The thing about all of the Amis is that on an individual basis, each one gets very little attention, but for some reason fandom has its favourites that it singles out. I only finished reading the novel relatively recently, and I'm completely new to the Internet fandom, so I feel like I'm still talking from a third-person standpoint when I say this. Bossuet is actually one of the more prominent Amis in the book. If I had to pick one which I thought was not given enough attention, it is (surprisingly) Courfeyrac. While he is the "centre", and is Marius's best buddy, he is given way less character description than others, and he doesn't really go on character-revealing rants like Combeferre or Grantaire. His role is limited to a few teasing remarks and a couple questions to Marius, and several jokes. I don't understand in what way he is the centre. I accept it as given, because I'm told so, but I just don't see it actually happen. I don't even have a mental picture of him at all.

Bossuet, on the other hand, is quite "coloured in" as a character, with both personality and history. The only thing I don't get about him is how "Lesgle" became "Bossuet". Seems like the same logic Fantine must have used to shorten Euphrasie to Cosette.

But anyways... Yeah, I have no idea why fandom doesn't give Bossuet his due. Hugo certainly does.
C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes. ~Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

taire-it-up
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Re: Some attention for Lesgle

Postby taire-it-up » Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:57 pm

In answer to your question about how Lesgles became Bossuet, I'm just gonna leave this here:
http://hernaniste.tumblr.com/post/23438252868/lesmisquestions-why-is-lesgles-nickname
come for the carpe horas, stay for the carpes ho gras

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Chantefleurie
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Re: Some attention for Lesgle

Postby Chantefleurie » Mon Sep 21, 2015 3:29 am

taire-it-up wrote:In answer to your question about how Lesgles became Bossuet, I'm just gonna leave this here:
http://hernaniste.tumblr.com/post/23438252868/lesmisquestions-why-is-lesgles-nickname


Ah, thank you. That explains a lot. Hugo does love his puns and references, and occasionally I feel like his goal in writing that book was to make you learn every detail of French history, geography, and politics that he could cram inside. :cry: Was this explained somewhere in the book, or as a footnote, or are the readers just supposed to "know" it? I went back to the Amis introduction chapter after finishing the book specifically to look up the origins of Bossuet's nickname, but couldn't find any.
C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes. ~Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

taire-it-up
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Re: Some attention for Lesgle

Postby taire-it-up » Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:27 pm

Chantefleurie wrote:Was this explained somewhere in the book, or as a footnote, or are the readers just supposed to "know" it?


I don't really know but I'm guessing that readers in his day could probably understand the reference. I personally looked it up on the internet the first time I read the brick, but I think some copies (including the one I have now) have a footnote explaining it.

(Also, I just opened up my brick vaguely in the middle to try and find whether the footnote existed, and it literally opened on exactly the right page...)
come for the carpe horas, stay for the carpes ho gras


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