...because I think we're forgetting something.
In all seriousness. Upon this forum we have exhaustive discussions on how Enjolras might choose to partake in sexual relations. We have all sorts of deep character studies on Combeferre and Courfeyrac and Enjolras. We have fangirls of Joly and Feuilly and Grantaire. Where's the love for Prouvaire?
I mean it. Where?
Hugo gives us some astonishing
insight into the boy's character. Admit it: how many of you think he's a total pansy because he plays the flute and grows flowers and weeps over women and blushes easily? However, a lot of us forget this:
Jehan knew four languages, besides French: Latin, Greek, Italian, and Hebrew. Jehan, says Hugo, learnt Latin solely in order to read Juvenal, learnt Greek solely in order to read Aeschylus, learnt Italian solely in order to read Dante, and Hebrew solely in order to read Isaiah. He also mentions that Jehan's three favoured poets in French, in ascending order, are Corneille, Agrippa d'Aubigné, and Racine.
While I have my doubts that Jehan "only" learnt Latin to read Juvenal -- being a rich only son, it'd be pretty strange if he didn't have a complete young man's classical education, so it stands to reason that he would have had a strong grounding in Latin and the classics anyway -- the others are interesting enough. Greek, okay, it seems to me that Greek and Latin are common enough languages for a classically-educated young man to be fluent in. Then... Italian. Most of us should remember that Italy still was at this time a collection of city-state kingdoms, not a unified country. He would have had to learn Florentine
Italian if he were focused purely on Dante. And Hebrew. This is the astonishing one. I imagine it was probably pretty difficult to find a Hebrew tutor -- as it would have had to have been a Jew. Laying aside my ignorance on the subject of Jews in Restoration France... you have to admit that this is pretty astounding in itself.
This doesn't even touch the reading material.
- Aeschylus is full of GAY. It's, okay, it's subtext, but any of you who have read the Oresteia will notice it on about the second page. Even laying aside our fandom's Orestes and Pylades connotations, it's amazing. I adore the Oresteia
- Juvenal. Oh, Juvenal's satires are things of beauty.
I won't expound on them here, but I do recommend you go grab a translation if you can't read Latin, because ... yesssss. *
- Dante. Do you really need me to discuss Dante any further? If you know me, you know Dante's my homeboy, so to speak. And let's not forget that La Commedia was Dante's final and crowning work -- up until his exile he wrote all sorts of things. Beautiful, beautiful love poetry, essays on politics -- De Monarchia
especially, and there are others -- and then there's Il Convivio
and La Vita Nuova
. Y'all, Dante was pretty fabulous. Jehan is a Dante fanboy and that should really tell you all something.
- and Isaiah. I've lost my Bible years ago so someone else has to confirm, but isn't Isaiah the prophet who foresees the end of days?
I believe MmeBahorel knows more about Jehan's taste in French poets, because I've only ever been able to read snatches of Racine in translation, but... the above should be enough.
Enough to tell you that not only is Jehan not a pansy -- but he's a badass. (Not a GQMF, though
) Holy crap, kid. I've been fond of this boy for years, because seriously? you want to have a fangirl/fanboy discussion with him. Yeah, you go fight with Enjolras and march with Combeferre, I'll be back here fangirling with Jehan.
Now, I want to ask a question: of all Jehan's reading material above, and of the classics in general -- how easy was it to obtain these books? Whether in a French translation or the original text? I've had this nebulous plotbunny in my head for ages now and, um, I sort of want to share it in story form one of these days.
I just don't want to have him and Enjolras arguing over the merits of De Monarchia
if one couldn't get a copy of it in 1827 in France (or, y'know, circa that time.)
* I also want to say: I think Jehan would have had to have read Roman poets other than Juvenal, if only Virgil, Ovid, and Catullus, but there are so many possibilities here... Still, Juvenal being his favourite says a lot.