Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Meta related to characters, plots, or other elements introduced by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables.
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PureDiamondLight
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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby PureDiamondLight » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:27 pm

Aurelia Combeferre wrote:Though of course (and I am sure that a_marguerite would agree with me), the book that could be connected to Enjolras is the book of Revelation :lol:


Tut tut. :roll:

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby MmeJavert » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:45 pm

PureDiamondLight wrote:So why does Jehan, who is even softer than Combeferre, read a book which is in places so harsh? Bloodthirsty, even?


I think this is exactly why Hugo tells us the sort of things he loved to read -- without giving any reasons why, whereas everything else about Jehan is stated explicitly. It's this dichotomy -- wept over women, was in love with love, a shade softer than Combeferre, played the flute, cultivated flowers, wrote sweet poetry -- and reads Isaiah and Juvenal and Aeschylus and Dante, and learnt the languages of those men to be able to read and understand them as they were meant, and Racine and Corneille and Agrippa d'Aubigné. Yes, he is that sort of a young man. Marrying the two parts of his -- the bloodthirsty, the divine, the sublime, the revolutionary -- to the sweet young man who grows a pot of flowers and plays the flute and writes poetry -- this is what makes Jehan such a wonderfully interesting character who doesn't (well, until recently!) get nearly enough proper appreciation in fandom for what he IS.

That is why I adore Jehan so much, and why I get frustrated at fanon Jehan who is such a little pansy and cries over the barricade -- they forget the rest of him, the less explicitly-spoken side of him. If he weren't the type of man who adored the Revolution and blamed it only for guillotining Chénier, who loved to read Isaiah, for all its peace and hope and bloodthirsty and revolutionary themes, I'm not sure he would've been the type of man who is as close to Enjolras as he is. He is still one of Enjolras' lieutenants. What Hugo tells us about his reading material lends a lot to his personality, and tells us how he is involved with the revolution.

I have a feeling if you met Jehan he'd be one of those shy, soft-spoken geeks who always dresses funny in school, until you unwittingly mention their favourite topics, and suddenly they're all enthusiastic and gungho and eloquent. In Jehan's case... well, you can see where I'm going with this. XD
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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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby PureDiamondLight » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:43 pm

MmeJavert wrote: If he weren't the type of man who adored the Revolution and blamed it only for guillotining Chénier, who loved to read Isaiah, for all its peace and hope and bloodthirsty and revolutionary themes, I'm not sure he would've been the type of man who is as close to Enjolras as he is. He is still one of Enjolras' lieutenants.


Ah. Things have just clicked into place :D Now I get it. I think: The reading material -Isaiah especially - connects him to Enjolras. Enjolras is (to me) just like Isaiah, so by telling us that Jehan loves Isaiah, Hugo is explaining how the "badly-dressing-sweetheart" can be one of Enjolras' lieutenants. It gives the soft poet and the fierce priest a very strong bond of common ground.

(I know it's more complex than that, and I get the rest of it too... but that bit suddenly made sense to me. Thank you :) )

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby sophiedegrouchy » Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:43 am

I'm all on board for that explanation.

There's some sort of odd fic stewing in my head re: Jehan and Enjolras that comes from 6:5-8, Isaiah's calling to be a prophet. He has a vision in which he sees God on a throne surrounded by seraphim:
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
I have no idea how I would go about it, but I've been finding the idea of Jehan undergoing a similar conversion experience (perhaps in an opium dream, ha) strangely compelling. With Enjolras playing the role of the coal-bearing seraphim, of course.

I have to admit, MmeJavert, that I only got around to finally reading Isaiah because it was required for a class last year, and even with the combined motivation of fandom, academics, and religion, it wasn't easy to make myself finish it. There were some fantastic bits, but plenty of oh please when will it stop also.
(So sorry at failing at coming around here! Ack! But thanks for the welcome. :D)

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby PureDiamondLight » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:38 am

I will now grab my Bible and see if there is anything interesting in Ezekiel... maybe then things will make more sense.


I skim-read some of Ezekiel on the train on my way down to my Les Mis course last Thursday.

The"cherubim" that Hugo refers to in his description of Enjolras are mentioned several times.They are described as shining the colour of all different gems (which of course paints a picture that is both very beautiful, precious and rare). But the point about them that is repeated over and over is that they moved in a straight line, looking always straight ahead - they looked neither right or left but focussed unfailingly on the direction they were heading. This same phrase is repeated about five or six times.

Beautiful, striking, rare - and above all immoveable and undistractable from their goal. Now I understand why Hugo compares Enjolras to these particular angels.

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby Usefulbeauty » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:51 pm

So that's what he was talking about. Thanks for posting it. Sometimes my Bible-related knowledge seems to start with the book of Matthew end with the book of Acts.
Let us read and let us dance--two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
- Voltaire

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby Mlle Patria » Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:55 pm

Usefulbeauty wrote:So that's what he was talking about. Thanks for posting it. Sometimes my Bible-related knowledge seems to start with the book of Matthew end with the book of Acts.

Better than mine, which is pretty much just veggie tales, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. :lol:
Vive la France! Vive l'avenir!

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby Madame le Fantome » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:34 am

*blinkblink* ...good GRIEF, guys...this is one EDUCATED discussion! I feel REALLY ignorant now, honestly...most of these references I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA about...and...and...just...dang! I can't describe how much I admire and envy your knowledge!
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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby MmeJavert » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:59 am

Oh, noooooo, you don't have to feel ignorant! At least don't feel bad about it. If you haven't been in the fandom as long as some of us, clearly you have time to learn. ;) It was years before I learned anything about the fandom. It took me probably 4-5 years before I even understood a single one of these things about Jehan, so don't feel bad. ;)

But I think all this knowledge here is a good place to learn! We all have so much to offer here, and I think it's wonderful. :D
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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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:08 am

Also remember, this thread is the perfect example of the hive mind at work - we all sound a lot smarter than we are because you're reading through this thread at once, while those of us participating found bits and pieces over time, and different people brought in different bits. I think everyone participating in this thread learned something from what someone else posted in this thread. We're not brilliant so much as persistent, and putting several persistent people together gets you nerdy meta threads :)

Don't be intimidated, or worry about being ignorant - I learn new things half the time I open a research book, sometimes to the point I have to re-write fic from years ago because I just learned something about it is wrong. And no one called me on it at the time because no one who was reading it knew it was wrong. We're not experts and we know it.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby Madame le Fantome » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:18 am

Heh. Thanks... :) No, I haven't been in the fandom long at all! As you might have noticed from my signature, I saw "Les Mis" (the TAC) for the first time in May, and about a year before that, I'd read the Brick (although it was the abridged version, and I didn't know it at the time... :P )...so yeah...

MmeJavert wrote:But I think all this knowledge here is a good place to learn! We all have so much to offer here, and I think it's wonderful.
Good point; it is pretty darn awesome that there's all this info here! (Especially when you consider that this way, we don't have to go digging through the Internet, books, etc. all on our own (*snickers and immediately starts humming OMO*) every time we want information, ne? :D

...yeah...like I said, thanks! That does make me feel somewhat less stupid. :) I still wish I had some more to contribute, myself, though...
Madame le Fantome - Hearing the people sing since May 2010.

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby Ravariel » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:40 pm

It's been a few months, but may I bring this back up? Because I adore the unity of the dichotomy of Jehan. And being very Isaiah-literate (it's really one of my favorite things) I think that the unified dichotomy is there too.

Isaiah (and I refer to the book, not the prophet) is, like Jehan, full of grandeur and above all good. It has a lot of tirades against injustice, but the main subject of a lot of them is the opression of orphans and widows (like Jehan's pitying women and weeping over childhood). There are many, many promises of divine retribution, but even when it's graphic it's often retribution in a positive sense, focusing on the person whose wrongs are being righted:

"For thus says the Lord
Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken,
and the prey of the tyrant be rescued,
for I will contend with those who contend with you,
and I will save your children.
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh
and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.
Then all flesh shall know
that I am the Lord your Savior."


I can see this being Jehan's revolution passage. He's a fighter, definitely, maybe even enjoys fighting, but he loves the thought of what he's fighting more far more than the act of fighting. He loves to right wrongs.

But there are a lot of passages about sheer compassion and restoration, too. And Isaiah loves water and plant imagery (which yes, makes me think of keeping flowers):

"When the poor and needy seek water
and there is none
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has done it."


And for one in love with love, verses like this would hold appeal:

"Oh Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance are the desire of our souls.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
My spirit within me seeks you earnestly."

And this:

"But Zion says, 'The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.'
'Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even if these forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.' "

There's also some comparisons of God bringing his people back to him, as a faithful lover accepts a repentant unfaithful beloved. Beautiful poetry (those are some of my favorite parts.)

Isaiah is very much a book with two faces, one towards God and the other towards man. It is a book that holds both tenderness and severity, both judgment and compassion. It gives attention to the beauty of the past and to the beauty of the future. I think you could find almost the whole of Jehan in this book. (Well, except his timidity. That'd be Jeremiah: 'Oh Lord, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth...')

Anyway, I've learned a lot about our dear Prouvaire from Isaiah. And I've learned some things about Isaiah from him.

And oh, I love them both!


(By the way, if you happen to want the references for the passages I quoted I can give them to you, but I was just a bit too lazy to put them in. It's the ESV translation for anyone who cares to know...)
"I learned not to fear infinity,
The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow."
--Theodore Roethke

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby Mlle Patria » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:33 am

I feel really bad now because I'm going to go read my bible (for the first time in a good few years) just so I can better understand this disscussion. We all know where I'm going. :twisted:
Vive la France! Vive l'avenir!

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby Ravariel » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:41 am

Be careful roaming around in that book, Mlle Patria :) You never know what you'll find/where you'll come out!

I've been trying to read a bit of Chenier, myself, thanks to Jehan. But I have yet to understand what fascinated him there.
"I learned not to fear infinity,
The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow."
--Theodore Roethke

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Re: Permit, dear readers, a digression... on Jehan.

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:34 am

Re: Chenier, I think you have to have read a whole lot of what came before. As in, it's hard to find the Romantics so shocking these days unless one looks at what else was being published/performed at the time. Shakespeare isn't shocking until you've sat through some Racine. So Romantic poetry, being one of the building blocks of what is considered literary education in the West in this day and age, is hard to see as revolutionary, much less to see its precursors as doing something mindblowing.

I suspect that what is attractive is that Chenier is the "it guy" for poetry - Prouvaire is explicitly coded as a Romantic, and Chenier is their precursor (Sainte-Beuve said it in 1828, before sleeping with Hugo's wife). Chenier doesn't actually have to be any good because he's first. Only later, with a greater body of work in a similar vein, can comparisons be drawn. In English terms, you can compare Shelley to Thomas Gray, but it's rather unfair to compare Gray to Shelley as the world had moved on because of Gray's influence. Similar deal with Chenier, I believe.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard


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