1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

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: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby collectingbees » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:32 am

More than likely, Thénardier got astronomically wealthy in a short amount of time, and then died of some horrific disease, a common fate of slave traders. Tholomyès gets to enjoy his wealth and screwing people over. *grumbles grumbles*

Also, what a coward. I always think that writing people letters when you're doing something horrible to them or breaking up with someone via internet or letter or whatever is the most cowardly thing you can do.

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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby Lara » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:37 am

I didn't think about that until you made the comparison! They basically text-dumped the girls. Wow.
(Not to mention they waited until they were an hour away before they let them see the letter. Extra cowardly.)

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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:07 am

you know what's sort of the WORST thing about Tholo? The fact that he's so ordinary. I mean, think how many young students abandoned their mistresses when it was itme to become 'respectable.' Really, if Cosette wasn't in the picture he'd just be like any other guy on the street who walks out on his girl. I mean, we can rant and rave about what an asshole he is all we want, but really, he never did anything any man wouldn't do. Guys like Courfeyrac, who we are told is a really great guy (heart of a paladin and all) i suppose, would be the exception, not the rule.
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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby hazellwood » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:00 pm

Roses for Ophelia wrote:you know what's sort of the WORST thing about Tholo? The fact that he's so ordinary. I mean, think how many young students abandoned their mistresses when it was itme to become 'respectable.' Really, if Cosette wasn't in the picture he'd just be like any other guy on the street who walks out on his girl. I mean, we can rant and rave about what an asshole he is all we want, but really, he never did anything any man wouldn't do. Guys like Courfeyrac, who we are told is a really great guy (heart of a paladin and all) i suppose, would be the exception, not the rule.


Oooh, that's actually a really good point!! But then, how much does a child change the situation? If Fantine had not had Cosette, I imagine eventually she would have gotten over it--but with a two year old child...

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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:49 am

Exactly - Fantine might have been heartbroken and not moved on as easily as the other girls, or she might have ended up sort of how she did later anyway with the street musician who beat her. But she would not have had the same stigma, the same proof if she didn't have a child, and she wouldn't have the same financial troubles, either. She's really quite lucky, in a sense, that Tholomyès hung around after the kid was born - her other options would have been to give the child up to an orphanage or to have all the issues of trying to feed and house herself with an infant (this is assuming no successful abortion attempt - she could also have ended up with serious problems from that). There's a reason even working-class women sent their children to nurse in the country - if one was nursing, one couldn't do much work, but if one was not nursing, one could keep oneself at least and go about figuring out how to pay the wetnurse. The only good thing Tholomyès did was wait until Cosette was weaned.

Another point: did Victor forget nine months of pregnancy or does the "we've been together nearly two years" mean the four couples as a set, not each couple themselves? Because if Cosette is something like 2 and a half (30 months) when Fantine hands her over to Mme T (and I'm judging on the younger side here), and that is 10 months after the "joke", then Cosette is 20 months. Since "nearly two years" could be 23 months, we have a math problem. Cosette has to be born in 1815 for everything to come back to Napoleon, but since the scene with Mme T is in the spring, we're covered there. So either Victor forgot pregnancies generally take nine months, he didn't do his math, or Fantine and Tholomyès are actually the longest-lasting relationship of that set. Did the full set come together only after Cosette was born? Does this idea have any explanatory power over Tholomyès' actions?
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:57 pm

I just want to add a couple things:

In Chapter 5, where Hugo is digressing and notes Anglès statements on the working classes of Paris, "they are small men", this is literally true. Louis Chevalier summarizes Villermé's statistics on army recruit rejections thus: "arranging the arrondissements in decreasing order of average stature, Villermé noted in the first place that, with the sole exception of the XIth arrondissement, all of them came in the same order as that of the decrease in the proportion of rented accommodation liable to the personal tax alone; that is to say, the proportion of fairly well-to-do inhabitants who lived solely on their income or on earnings from an industry not liable to the licensing fee. 'We therefore see,' he concluded, 'that stature depends on wealth, or rather, is in inverse proportion to the heavy labor, fatigue, and privations undergone in childhood and youth. . . .'" Villermé covers 1816-1823.

This digression also serves, I think, to link Tholomyès and his friends more firmly with the set of students we meet later - there's a direct contrast of luxury and misery here with the description of their pleasure day and Anglès' report on the condition of the working class. While Anglès suggests that the working class is content despite their poverty because they don't bother doing anything and they are literally too small to do anything anyway, Hugo then reminds us that size doesn't matter when the Paris working class is roused in revolution or through the army (the very army that rejects large portions of them because they are physically incapable of doing the work - Chevalier goes on to report on the difficulties the Government has finding workers for infrastructure projects because the vast majority are physically unable to work a full day of heavy labour). It may also be a connection that the boys are expanded upon and properly named during exile, that as we see them, they are not relics of the Misère draft that left France with Hugo. To me, that makes the relation stronger and emphasises why this connection is being made.

Chapter VI, where Favourite complains it has been cold and rainy all summer, is absolutely true - Arago notes it as a particularly cold spring and summer throughout France. Which makes sense, as it comes on the heels of 1816, the "Year Without a Summer", where the effects of Mount Tambora's massive explosion in 1815 reached Europe. 1817 was the second year in a row of cold temperatures and poor harvests - grain had to be imported from Ukraine to stave off starvation after two poor harvests in a row (wheat prices soared 85% in some regions). Industrial goods prices dropped 20% due to low demand - it was a crappy economy to get dumped into.

Chapter VII, the condor's white splat: I find it interesting that as Hugo has named Tholomyès as he has, Tholomyès links himself with shit through this white splat. Another man might call this pun, weak as it is, something that falls from heaven like the rain, that even when paltry it enriches us. Tholomyès admits it sucks and calls it shit. But then he goes on to ramble in support of the awesomeness of puns in general, even though this last one sucked. He's such a dick.

But later on, when he's rambling about "I am an illusion", is this merely a warning for the reader, foreshadowing his disappearance from the scene, or is it an intended warning for Fantine as well? And if the latter, does that make him better or worse, that the "surprise" was therefore hinted at and not entirely out of the blue?
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby cordeliersclub » Sun May 15, 2011 7:20 pm

Continuing my pattern of seizing on the least significant detail and obsessing.....

I feel like it's on the tip of my brain, but it's certainly not on the tip of the internet:

Why is spelling Chateaubriand with a "t" at the end hilarious?
les Amis de l'ABC do not laugh at puns.

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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:05 pm

July 2, 2013

The Year 1817

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/28/

Personalities of a given year
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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby Gervais » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:06 pm

Alright, I've been alternating between Rose and Hapgood throughout the read-through. The Rose, as it's been said before, has a ton of footnotes. They're usually about half a page per chapter or so. This chapter has seven pages. :lol: However, the note on Chateaubriand/t doesn't talk about the T at all.
There is this nice one at the beginning, though, for anyone interested:
This chapter was added to the novel during the revisions of 1860. There are a few inaccuracies in this long list of Hugo's memories of Restoration Paris, and Hugo sometimes seems to be amusing himself with ironic depictions of people or events as he seeks to conjure up the political and cultural atmosphere of Restoration Paris for his Second Empire readers.

Several critics have pointed out that 1817 is also the year in which Victor Hugo entered public poetry competitions, thus marking his debut as a professional writer.
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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby humanracer » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:40 pm

A lot of the "digressions" seemed to have been added during his revisions in the final part of the writing process.

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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:39 am

June 3, 2013

A Double Quartette

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/29/

We are introduced to four dandies, three coquettes,and one innocent.
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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby Gervais » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:10 pm

It's been mentioned before, but it's almost scary how common Felix and the guys are. They aren't described as being particularly mean or fussy, they're just the average joe according to their description.
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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:24 pm

That's interesting, Gervais, about Victor Hugo first entering competitions in 1817. I hadn't known that.

Gervais wrote:It's been mentioned before, but it's almost scary how common Felix and the guys are. They aren't described as being particularly mean or fussy, they're just the average joe according to their description.

That is very interesting, now that you mention it. And it makes it more heartbreaking, too, but I do have to wonder, while this whole book is a condemnation of society and everything, if Fantine would have fallen for it if she hadn't been on her own. If she hadn't grown up a veritable orphan, and left by herself, you know, had no stable family/relationship already built in? I admittedly don't know much of anything about what sort of a family unit or life would have been there for someone of Fantine's status, then, or even just in general, but I have to wonder if she might have been like the other three otherwise. And if not, then I guess the question is, what makes her so innocent?
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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby Gervais » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:43 pm

I think "innocence" is more of a general naïveté in her case. She hasn't had anyone tell her Sex Is Bad or anything like that, I dont think, unless she had more access to a church than I think she does; she somehow doesn't know anyone or didnt realize that someone she knows had been severly dumped by guys like Tholomyes; this is her first relationship with anyone and just doesn't know what is too much to give. That's what I think her innocence is. As for what would happen with family, well, she'd probably have someone explain all of that, though whether or not she processed what she was told or chose to ignore it would probably just put her back where she is now.
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Re: 1.3 En l'année 1817/In the Year 1817 28/09/10-6/10/10

Postby humanracer » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:47 pm

YoungStudentMarius wrote:That's interesting, Gervais, about Victor Hugo first entering competitions in 1817. I hadn't known that.

Gervais wrote:It's been mentioned before, but it's almost scary how common Felix and the guys are. They aren't described as being particularly mean or fussy, they're just the average joe according to their description.

That is very interesting, now that you mention it. And it makes it more heartbreaking, too, but I do have to wonder, while this whole book is a condemnation of society and everything, if Fantine would have fallen for it if she hadn't been on her own. If she hadn't grown up a veritable orphan, and left by herself, you know, had no stable family/relationship already built in? I admittedly don't know much of anything about what sort of a family unit or life would have been there for someone of Fantine's status, then, or even just in general, I have to wonder if she might have been like the other three otherwise. And if not, then I guess the question is, what makes her so innocent?


I think it is a character study more than anything. Hugo had many liaisons with women so I imagine he encountered a wide range of personalities. Throughout the book he talks about how "this sort of person behaves like this etc" I think he was an observer of people as well as a social commentator. I think Hugo is implying that Fantine is "naive" but "innocent" is a less insulting term. There are always going to be people like Fantine in society. People who are too trusting and take everything at face value. In one sense it makes the person seem "pure" and "virtuous" but it can also be a fatal flaw. Just my two cents.


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