1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

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: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:59 am

The reversion is great. And even the sense that all criminal cases, just like Valjean's normally would have, fall between the cracks or into detritus despite being acted on. No one seems to care.

August 7, 2013

The System of Denials

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/64/

Champmathieu on the stand. I feel sorry for him.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Morgan » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:19 am

You have to feel sorry for him, really; there's nothing he can say that they're going to listen to. The whole "customary question" thing makes it really clear how much they're just going through the motions in letting him defend himself, he can't actually achieve anything.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby redmiserable » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:44 pm

I feel sorry for him, too. The only thing worse than people not listening to you is people trying to tell you certain facts about your life/self that aren't even true, yet they believe it is, and keep shoving it at you.

On a lesser extent, I experienced it quite often in middle school with people trying to tell me my hair is black. :P It's not -it's a very dark brown, and you just have to hold it up to my skin or go out into the sunlight to prove that. But no, people just wanted to keep on arguing that I don't know what the color of my own hair is, especially when dark brown is on my birth certificate!

It's obviously much worse here due the subject of identity and the time period it's set in. More oppression equals more frustration!

Like with the "you are very clever to tell me where I was born, because I do not know myself".
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:31 pm

And the fact that he's obviously not able to comprehend the situation for what it stands for. It's clear exploitation of his ignorance
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Gervais » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:33 pm

Ignorant, and maybe even frustrated enough that if someone explained everything at stake, he wouldn't comprehend it because of his anger alone. Sort of a "shut up, don't talk to me, just get me out of this" feeling.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:13 am

August 8, 2013

Champmathieu More and More Astonished

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/65/

In which Jean Valjean is made known to the court.

"All of you, all who are present--consider me worthy of pity, do you not? Good God! When I think of what I was on the point of doing, I consider that I am to be envied. Nevertheless, I should have preferred not to have had this occur."

This is probably one of the best lines in the entire book. One of the finest acts of principle I've seen in literature. Even he knows that what he does will come at a massive price for other people, but he chooses to adhere to something more anyway.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Gervais » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:35 pm

Alright, sorry, these are for the past few chapters, but I just now looked at the notes in the back of my copy and found an interesting thing:

Ch. 9 (A Place where Convictions are about to Shape Up): [The counsel for the prosecution thundered against] The immorality of the Romantic school: In the early 1820s, when this scene takes place, the young and still conservative Victor Hugo was not yet the leader of the most "satanic" elements of liberal romanticism, and he was never as far right as the Oriflamme. One wonders how what was still a relatively obscure literary movement could have driven the illiterate Champmathieu/"Jean Valjean" to commit a crime.


And an answer to a question I didn't want to ask about yesterday's chapter, when Champ is trying to defend himself:
[I am] A good sort who never went to dances: I.e., the public balls were frequented by grisettes and young men like Tholomyes.

Right. Right. Should've known that. *facepalm*

Alright, on to eleven! The chapter where Valjean goes white, yay! The poor man, he had to have been stressed completely even when this is mostly symbolic. :(

Aurelia Combeferre wrote:
This is probably one of the best lines in the entire book. One of the finest acts of principle I've seen in literature. Even he knows that what he does will come at a massive price for other people, but he chooses to adhere to something more anyway.

What gets me is the "I'd have preferred none of this happened." Yeah, anyone in that situation would, but for him to actually be able to say it out loud takes a deal of courage, I believe.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby humanracer » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:37 am

What do you think about this part of the book?

"As he left Hesdin, he heard a voice shouting to him: "Stop! Stop!" He halted the cart with a vigorous movement which contained a feverish and convulsive element resembling hope.

It was the old woman's little boy.

"Monsieur," said the latter, "it was I who got the cart for you."

"Well?"

"You have not given me anything."

He who gave to all so readily thought this demand exorbitant and almost odious.

"Ah! it's you, you scamp?" said he; "you shall have nothing."

He whipped up his horse and set off at full speed.

"

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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Morgan » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:55 am

The whole thing where he feels he has to go but he really doesn't want to. If he refuses to go, he'll have it on his conscience, but if circumstances beyond his control stop him, it won't be his fault. So he's really pissed off that the kid's made it possible for him to keep going, and it probably feels to him like the kid has basically taken his last chance at getting both his freedom and a clean conscience, and "give me something" on top of that is too much.

It's a nice bit of character, I think, because to the boy it probably just looks like Valjean is a bit of a dick, but from the perspective of what we already know about Valjean, him being even a little bit of a dick is so out of character it's a really blatant sign of how much of a mess his emotional state is right now.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby humanracer » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:08 pm

Thanks Morgan. I agree, the character development in this part of the novel is excellent.

Another thing I find interesting is that in the musical we never actually find out how Valjean "broke his parole" since the Little Gervais incident is never mentioned. I always assumed it was just because he tore up his yellow ticket. Here of course the Gervais incident is used as the main reason for Javert hunting down Valjean.


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