1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

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.

Moderators: Charlette-Ollie, Ulkis, Frédérique

User avatar
MmeBahorel
Posts: 1773
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:12 am
Location: Washington, DC
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-23/10/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:18 am

I'm not sure putting snow down someone's back rises to the level of assault. Sure, there are huge class issues there in what an elector is permitted that a worker might not be and even what a worker can do that an unemployed man is unlikely to get away with, but let's be honest - Bambi called her names and put snow down her back. Fantine drew blood. Fairness would probably prescribe not pressing charges on either one, but if charges are to be pressed, Bambi was a dumbass and a jerk, but Fantine committed immediately verifiable harm.

Bambi caused more harm, maybe, but I can't think of a functional legal system that would punish not even very clever insults and a fistful of snow down a person's back more harshly than jumping a guy and digging your fingernails into his face. Yes, she was retaliating to provocation, and six months is ridiculously harsh, but the most either of them ought to deserve is a night in the drunk tank, maybe an additional writeup/warning/couple of days for Fantine to cool down. Javert only saw the fight, in any case, and Fantine has plenty of motive to exaggerate the provocation; I do wonder if in Javert's head, he's seeing something more like the situation in the musical, an out of hand argument between whore and customer, because he's got to be thinking "You did this to an elector because he put snow down your back? Either you're a crazy bitch who needs locked up for the protection of the city, or you're a liar who won't admit to flawed business practices and need to be locked up for the protection of the city."
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

Ulkis
Posts: 1342
Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:41 am

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-23/10/10

Postby Ulkis » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:13 am

Javert only saw the fight, in any case, and Fantine has plenty of motive to exaggerate the provocation;


Ah, ok, that's what I was wondering, if he saw anything else at all or just Fantine jumping on him. When I asked if Javert was letting Bamatabois off for his class, I was specifically thinking of the line, "he owes a big house at the end of the street", as if that makes it even more horrendous that Fantine attacked Bambi. I mean, I know it does to Javert, but it just cracks me up. "She attacked him! He's on the town board! And to top it all off, he owns a house! How DARE she!"

User avatar
Wolf_Of_Mankind
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 3:29 pm

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-23/10/10

Postby Wolf_Of_Mankind » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:52 am

Well, Fantine was a social outcast. And against a voter (who could somehow bring down a lawsuit on your head) and a prostitute, if they're causing a huge fight in the middle of the street, who are you going to arrest first to get the problem stop? It would cause much less fuss to arrest a prostitute than a voter, and there's no way Fantine could really resist arrest. But the bit about the house (and whoo hoo, it's BRICK!!! WITH A BALCONY AND STUFF!) always kinda cracked me up. But Javert's more likely than not living in some little tiny flat somewhere, as an unmarried guy in his mid-forties; and there are people out living on the street (hey, even the MAYOR lives in a tiny little place), so I guess the house is snazzy. :roll:
My two sous on that.
"Have courage for the great sorrows in life and patience for the small ones, and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."
~Victor Hugo



*Lovely icon by Eppie Sue

User avatar
MmeBahorel
Posts: 1773
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:12 am
Location: Washington, DC
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-23/10/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:59 pm

A couple things I wanted to add:

1) Hugo recycling the name Marguerite for Fantine's friend I think shows the importance of the friend. Fantine sold her pearls (her teeth), but for a while there she still has her friend. But notice in the end we see nothing more of Marguerite, and while it's probably because she's no longer needed as a plot element, it's also arguable that in selling herself, Fantine is also giving up her final "pearl", the friendship that until now has sustained her.

2) Is it just me, or is there an element of vampirism in Fantine's description after she has sold her teeth? She's very pale, there's dried blood in a trickle from her mouth, and I'm sure her canines could look strangely long and pointed now that they flank a gaping hole. Plus the next thing she does is prostitute herself, with all the implications of receiving bodily fluids to the detriment of men who give them up to her.

3) We're watching a worker screwed over by the capitalist impulse of the bosses - apart from the obvious Marxist analysis I've just thrown in there, is this the only time we actually see the effects of unregulated capitalism? I'm not suggesting that the Amis are socialists brought back in time from 1848, but 1848 is important to the characterisation of 1832, and Fantine is our only character who is shown working. Obviously this makes her sympathetic to the working class audience of 1862, but is it also a deliberate relation to 1832 as Hugo presents it? We don't see the capitalist impulse later on - Balzac is obviously the recorder of the capitalist impulse in the July Monarchy, of which the novel only covers two years - but we do see capitalism here both through Valjean as the capitalist and Fantine as the victim (though not his victim). Does this never come back because Hugo was afraid of the Marxist analysis of anything that championed the plight of the poor?
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

User avatar
cordeliersclub
Posts: 250
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 9:42 pm
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby cordeliersclub » Sun May 15, 2011 6:27 pm

There is one thing that gets me every time:

What kind of "charming trifles"--let alone "fascinating toys" as Denny calls them--can be made from straw and coconuts?? Here are my thoughts:

1. Coconut covered in straw
Purpose: Hurts less when thrown at you/ soccer
2. Coconut sitting on straw
Purpose: ???


All I've got, but then again I also couldn't invent a fancy bracelet clasp that rocks the entire world.
les Amis de l'ABC do not laugh at puns.

Ulkis
Posts: 1342
Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:41 am

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Ulkis » Sun May 15, 2011 6:49 pm

Hee. You got me. Honestly, I'm still confused about how Valjean's magic coin works. When I was reading the description of it, both in the chapter where he uses it to free himself from Thenardier and in the other where he's describing it to Montparnesse, I am still confused as to how exactly he built it.

User avatar
MmeBahorel
Posts: 1773
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:12 am
Location: Washington, DC
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun May 15, 2011 8:56 pm

Fake shrunken head?

Ok, a more serious description - I assume coconut carvings, dressed up with straw for added features. Think wooden toys, dressed up with straw, only coconut instead of wood.

As for the sou: how it works isn't the issue (it's just like screwing the lid on a jar), it's how one can construct it without destroying either face or the edge. One may actually need two coins to properly construct the screw, since you need an intact edge that overlaps.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

User avatar
Aurelia Combeferre
Posts: 8847
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:57 am
Location: somewhere with the abased
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:41 am

July 14, 2013---HAPPY BASTILLE DAY!!!

The History of a Progress in Glass Trinkets

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/40/

What may bring prosperity to a town and convince Fantine to return home.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

User avatar
Gervais
Posts: 5975
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:10 pm
Location: Smelling your soul within your handkerchief

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Gervais » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:54 am

MmeBahorel wrote:Fake shrunken head?

Ok, a more serious description - I assume coconut carvings, dressed up with straw for added features. Think wooden toys, dressed up with straw, only coconut instead of wood.


Barging in late to add that my dad has a little toy bank shaped like a monkey, made out of a coconut and straw, and that thing is demented.

I think it's really interesting how Fantine contrasts with M-sur-M.
While Fantine had been slowly descending from wretchedness to wretchedness, her native town had prospered.

Which makes it interesting, to me at least, that the town goes back to ickyness after she dies. Yes, it's mostly because the mayor that made it not-icky has literally jumped ship, but the fact that the town is descending as she's presumably in heaven is kind of interesting when compared to that bit here.
Image

"The peas, Woyzeck. The PEAS."

User avatar
Aurelia Combeferre
Posts: 8847
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:57 am
Location: somewhere with the abased
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:56 am

Again a commentary on what construes virtue and what happens when it's gone? Oh Hugo you sneaky fellow!
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

User avatar
Gervais
Posts: 5975
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:10 pm
Location: Smelling your soul within your handkerchief

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Gervais » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:59 am

Probably. :lol:

And I also just realized why this book is called "The Descent." You may hit me over the head with a cinder block now. My excuse is that I don't pay attention to chapter names.
Image

"The peas, Woyzeck. The PEAS."

User avatar
Aurelia Combeferre
Posts: 8847
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:57 am
Location: somewhere with the abased
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Jul 14, 2013 4:00 am

I'll need a cinder block of my own too. I only realized it last year, after having been a fan for six years.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

User avatar
Aurelia Combeferre
Posts: 8847
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:57 am
Location: somewhere with the abased
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:19 am

July 15, 2013

Madeleine

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/41/

Another good man appears on the scene.

Compare again to Myriel. :D
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

User avatar
Gervais
Posts: 5975
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:10 pm
Location: Smelling your soul within your handkerchief

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Gervais » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:27 pm

Seriously, though. :lol: I don't remember; does Valjean really find out that much about everything Myriel has done?

(Also, slightly random and I don't think this is neccesarily the right thread, but look at what Google pulls up for Myriel: http://myriel.org/ )
Image

"The peas, Woyzeck. The PEAS."

User avatar
Aurelia Combeferre
Posts: 8847
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:57 am
Location: somewhere with the abased
Contact:

Re: 1.5 La Descente/The Descent, 10/10/10-22/10/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:31 pm

He doesn't seem to mention it. But I think the impact is there whether he finds out or not---his tribute to Myriel later is a sign enough.

If he doesn't find out, that's even more awesome. He's unwittingly patterning himself after this saint.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."


Return to “Read-Through”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest