1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Abaissé re-reads the novel in its entirety! All welcome, no matter whether you're reading in French or some other translation. Discussion topics for each step along the way.

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Hannah » Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:29 pm

Ulkis wrote:I'm a little skeeved. Nothing skeeves me out though as much as the "Cosette didn't have a doll so how could she learn to be a mother part" though, but we haven't gotten there yet.


Hooooo boy :| THE MOTHER ISSUES THEY'RE ENDLESS

I ... can't really be unskeeved just because he wrote this like over 100 years ago, unfortunately. I mean, a fuckton of dude authors still write this way and it's never not unnerving for me to be reminded of the roles someone like me is "allowed" to play in a book I am trying to enjoy :(

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Ulkis » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:04 am

My pushing around Barbie in her corvette was such good training for motherhood!

ETA: Lisette, hello and welcome!

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Marianne » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:01 am

My... chaining up Barbies below my bed and pretending it was the Bastille: such good training for motherhood!

(No, reading too much Dickens at an early age did not warp my psyche, what are you talking about.)
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:08 am

You know, there have been studies done that show that most girls go through this stage where they torture or otherwise destroy their barbies. I never actually HARMED mine, but my friends and i made a 'tv show' where the barbies were on some sort of game show and pretended to punish them if they got the answers wrong.

It actually could be argued that dolls do train girls for motherhood; but not because girls are 'naturally' predisposed to be mothers, but because in giving little girls dolls and encouraging them to mother them, we train them to THINK they are supposed to be mothers.
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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby hazellwood » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:15 am

...I have never had Barbie.

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby MmeJavert » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:51 am

Uh, my barbies reenacted LM, and they actually were the precursors to my fanfiction because they all had elaborate names and stories. This says more about how long I had my barbies, though, than it does about my other habits... I don't think I ever mutilated them beyond giving them new haircuts/dos. :lol:

(I promise I will at some point read the damn chapters post my thoughts on the bishop...)
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby hazellwood » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:56 am

MmeJavert wrote:(I promise I will at some point read the damn chapters post my thoughts on the bishop...)


...what chapter are we on exactly? :oops:

I think I missed out on a childhood ritual or something by not having a Barbie. Like, I was the only person out of my group of friends who did not own a Barbie.

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby collectingbees » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:40 am

Barbie was a mere formality it what I was really interested in: all her stuff: cars, clothes, and her-never-ending stream of pets. Especially the most latter.

But, the bishop! I gotta say, I do like this part a lot more this time around than I ever have before (I am such an over-achieving brat, I'm already to Fantine..). He reminds me so much of my uncle who was a bishop, especially in "What He Thought." Mostly I think the first 60 pages with the bishop is the same sentences over and over with new vocabulary. I guess it's alright because the bishop's such a darn nice guy.

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:42 am

My Barbies were lesbians. I didn't get a Ken for a really long time, but I was never bothered by that because my Barbies were in a lesbian relationship with adopted daughters. One of them was a hippie who mostly wore clothes from the late '60s (because I had inherited some and they looked awesome on the Asian one with really really long hair) and the other always wore pants. And the other Barbies were their daughters. Who needs men when one has a pink corvette and a hot Asian girlfriend?

(this may explain a lot, actually - I'm straight, but apparently I've never felt a distinct need for pairing up with the opposite sex.)

As for Hugo, I think one can be somewhat skeeved out on his gender issues. Because there's the typical gender issues of the period, then there's more extreme forms, then there's Hugo's utter controllingness over everyone who ever entered his orbit, male or female. If one remembers that Hugo's "voice of god" stuff is because Hugo started to think he was god, then it's a sort of different fucked-up-ness.

Really, I'll take Hugo's condescension over something like Zola's fear and disgust any day. (I've only read Nana and Thérèse Raquin, but the common thread there is that women are sent by the devil to take pleasure in destroying men - I'll take "oh, aren't their little homemaker brains cute" over "Her vagina sucks all the goodness from my soul until I'm an evil shell that she'll discard in favour of another!") Which is not to say that condescension is good, but I do think there's affection there, and affection is important. It's also very nice to see no connection between evil and sensuality, because Victor loved sex more than just about anything and elevated it to the level of heaven. I sort of wonder if he so worships mothers because reproduction is the result of sex, the earthly blessing of the heavenly act.

(of course, he may also worship mothers because he has mommy issues.)
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Ulkis » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:51 pm

My Ken dolls were cursed; all of their left legs broke off, so eventually I gave up.

I think I missed out on a childhood ritual or something by not having a Barbie. Like, I was the only person out of my group of friends who did not own a Barbie.


Well you seemed to have turned out alright despite the lack of Barbie. ;)

Barbie was a mere formality it what I was really interested in: all her stuff: cars, clothes, and her-never-ending stream of pets. Especially the most latter.


I liked her furniture and pool. So I guess if dolls didn't exactly train me for motherhood it trained me to be a real houswife of NJ/NY/Atlanta?

I sort of wonder if he so worships mothers because reproduction is the result of sex, the earthly blessing of the heavenly act.


Doesn't Gillenormand say something like that in one of his speeches later on? That it was better to marry and have babies than be a nun?

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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:01 am

Yep, Gillenormand said something like that---I think in reference to Marius and Cosette's marriage. Something along the lines too of not-so-subtle hinting of having a great-grandchild within a year after the wedding.
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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:14 am

Coming back a little, now that I've finally read the second half of this section (I'm on time now, sort of):

On the Bishop's statement of the beautiful being as useful as the useful, sometimes more so:

I think this actually goes along with later, when Hugo tries to pull back and say a hatred of luxury can too often lead to a disdain for the arts which isn't at all what he means about Mgr Bienvenu. Beauty is the utility - it's like the argument in Mr Holland's Opus when he starts shouting at the administration "without the arts, what are they going to read and write about?!" Bare utility is sufficient for existence, but there needs to be some beauty in the world for life to really be worth living.

One can then connect this to the idea that the beauty of everyday things, that even vegetables much first produce flowers, is a sign of divine creation. Beauty is the divinity; god's grace is visible in everything, from the fact that seen at night, the Milky Way is not helpful for celestial navigation to the way a drop of water reflects the world. These aren't useful things in the way utility is usually measured, but they are beautiful things, and in that respect, they make the world better. Even the most downtrodden beggar can have a moment of happiness if he has ever been taught to contemplate the beauties as well as the terrors of the universe.

Then, going back to the conventionnel:

To me, this chapter and what ensues show the problem with M. Myriel. Everything about him is a thorn in the Church's side except for this. G--- has just proved that the structures are responsible for the misery and suffering, and Myriel, even afterwards, does nothing against the structures. It's like the criticism of Mother Teresa - she gave comfort to the sick, she saw that the hungry were fed, but she did nothing to stop the AIDS crisis because the obvious, provable methods (condom use and honesty with multiple partners) were against the teachings of the church, and there were other issues with how her work was carried out if the intent was to cure rather than comfort. The Bishop comforts, but he does not cure. His spending of his pay is part of that comfort - it buys temporary assistance for many, it makes him feel better, but it does nothing to work against the structures that have put misery in place. The first five entries in his budget are for the church: seminaries, missionary associations, a monastery. The 6000 reserved for the poor we know goes out as handouts, and all support to the hospital comes at a time when it can ease but not prevent suffering. The fact that G---- essentially calls him out on this without even entirely knowing it, and that Mgr Myriel's actions don't change as a result of the conversation, even as he sees that G---- has a point, I think are telling about the whole issue of the Church. That even its most saintly adherents are inherently not part of the solution.

And I think I just proved why I continued to be so attracted to the students. Revolutionaries acknowledge that the structures are at fault and must be changed. Mgr Myriel is a good man in that he can recognise G--- has a point and has been trying to alleviate the suffering they both can see, but he is far from a perfect man because he continues to support the very things that led to the actions G--- felt he had to take against the darkness they both agree exists.
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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:28 pm

Read-through Reboot/the 2013-2014 run:

Chapter for June 6, 2013:

Chapter 1: M. Myriel

Read it here: http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/1/

So for starters....apparently there was a real life Monsieur Myriel. Of course Hugo rather politicized his fictional depiction of the the Bishop, but there was still recognizably enough in the text for the real life Myriels to identify their relation.

Then there's how Hugo contrasts Myriel with Madame Baptistine and Madame Magloire. It was expounded on earlier in this thread, but what do you guys think now?
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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Gervais » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:52 pm

Yay, it's starting! :mrgreen:

I'm going to start by saying that the last time I read the book, I skipped most of the Bishop section. :oops: So I'm rustier with him than the rest.

As far as contrasting them goes, he's physically different from them, too. He's short, a bit stocky in my headcanon; Baptistine is tall and lanky; Magloire is short and fat (in my headcanon, shorter and fatter than Myriel).
Actually,when we get to Marius' chapters, I want to contrast Baptistine and Mademoiselle Gillenormand.
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Re: 1.1 Un Juste/An Upright Man, 1/9/10-14/09/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:03 pm

That would be an interesting contrast.

I like the reply to Napoleon. The contrast between 'good' and 'great' is worthy of note.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."


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