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

Postby Ulkis » Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:01 pm

Volume 1: Fantine, book 7:The Champmathieu Affair

Chapters:

1. La sœur Simplice/Sister Simplice
2. Perspicacité de maître Scaufflaire/The perspicacity of Master Scaufflaire
3. Une tempête sous un crâne/A tempest in a human skull
4. Formes que prend la souffrance pendant le sommeil/Suffering in sleep
5. Bâtons dans les roues/Spokes in the wheel
6. La sœur Simplice mise à l'épreuve/The testing of Sister Simplice
7. Le voyageur arrivé prend ses précautions pour repartir/The traveller arrives and provides for his return
8. Entrée de faveur/Admission by privilege
9. Un lieu où des convictions sont en train de se former/Place of conviction
10. Le système de dénégations/The accused
11. Champmathieu de plus en plus étonné/Increased astonishment of Champmathieu

The chapter in which the mayor has an epic struggle with his conscience as to whether he should confess to being the ex-convict Jean Valjean.

French text here, English translation here.

One thing that hit me with a ton of bricks during this section is going in, I absolutely thought that saving Champmathieu was the right thing to do. But when Valjean said that if he went to jail Fantine would die and Cosette would get thrown out onto the street, that never even occured to me, never mind the whole town going to seed. So I do still think that ultimately saving Champmathieu was the best thing to do, but I don't think not confessing would have been totally monstrous either.

Also, anyone up for any interpretation of Valjean's dream? Cause I have no guesses as to what means what.

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

Postby hazellwood » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:25 pm

I think this is the appropriate time for me to mention that I have been distracted recently and am still on The Year 1817.

I'll catch up soon, I promise. ;)

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

Postby Ulkis » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:31 pm

That's fine. :) Also no strict rule that you can't comment if you haven't caught up either. (No pressure to comment either - everyone can comment on present and past posts too if they please.)

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

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:50 pm

And you can still post to previous threads :)

Notes for 1.7

Livre VII

Chapitre I
1 (L'abbé Sicard): L'attestation de la fiction se double ici de la bizarrerie pertinente qu'il y a à invoquer le témoignage d'un spécialiste de l'éducation des sourds-muets à propos d'un personnage dont il vient d'être dit : << Il y avait du silence dans sa parole.>>
The attestation of the fiction is coupled here with the pertinent strangeness that there is to invoke the testimony of a specialist in the education of deaf-mutes in reference to a character of which it was just said: “There is silence in his speech.”

Chapitre III
2 (pandemonium): Capitale de Satan, réunion de tous les vicieux et de tous les vices.
Satan's capital, meeting place of all sinners and all vices.

3 (sinister door before which he hesitated): A la porte de l'enfer (Dantes, L'Enfer, III).
At the door of Hell.

4 (He confessed to himself): Voir plus haut l'hypothèse d'une réelle confession, et se souvenir que Hugo ne s'est jamais confessé, pas même à Lamennais qui signa le << billet de confession >> nécessaire à son mariage.
See further up the hypothesis of a real confession, and remember that Hugo never confessed, not even to Lamennais who signed the “certificate of confession” necessary for his marriage.

5 (this name was written: Antoine Albin de Romainville): Albin est dans Claude Gueux l'ami, fraternel et amoureux, du criminel. Dans ces noms, Albin et Romainville, se lisent aussi Albe et Rome dont la guerre devint fratracide lorsque le duel des Horaces et des Curiaces dut y mettre fin. Sur les résonances personnelles de ces noms, voir aussi plus loin les notes 9 et 10.
Albin is in Claude Gueux the friend, in the brotherly and amourous senses, of the criminal. In these names, Albin and Romainville, can be read also Alba and Rome of which the war became fratricide after the duel of the Horatii and Curatii should have put an end to the whole thing. On the personal resonances in these names, see also further down notes 9 and 10.

6 (I don't know this man): C'est par cette phrase même que Pierre renie le Christ dans l'Évangile (Matthieu, XXVI, 72).
It's by this very phrase that Peter denies Christ in the Gospels (Matthew 26:72).

7 (He had kept them): Les couverts eux, comme l'évêque l'a conseillé, ont été vendus.
The place settings themselves, as the bishop had advised, had been sold. [May I add “No shit, Sherlock”?]

Chapitre IV
8 (and dreamed): C'était une habitude de Hugo que de noter ses rêves les plus marquants ainsi qu'en témoignent ses carnets et les textes de Choses Vues.
It was a habit of Hugo's to write down the most striking of his dreams so that his notebooks and the texts of Things Seen testify to them.

9 (who I almost don't remember anymore): La présence obsédante d'un frère – dont l'histoire de Jean Valjean ne faisait pas mention en I, 2, 5 et qui ne réapparaîtra plus jamais – est déjà implicitement inscrite plus haut : voir note 5. Elle évoque bien sûr Eugène, le frère perdu, rival en amour et en poésie, devenu fou, et mort en 1837.
The haunting/obsessive presence of a brother – of which the story of Jean Valjean made no mention in I, 2, 5 and who will never reappear again – is already implicitly inscribed earlier: see note 5. It of course evokes Eugène, the lost brother, rival in love and in poetry, fallen into madness, and dead in 1837. [Eugène was a possible rival for Adèle Foucher, but his madness had violent tendencies and he had to be committed.]

10 (why Romainville?): Le frère est ici directement lié au père – Léopold recueillit Eugène à Blois – dans le nom de Romainville où s'inscrivent à la fois Thionville, dont le général Hugo fut le défenseur en 1814 et 1815, et Romorantin, à côté d'où le général en demi-solde avait acquis une propriété et où Victor, en 1815, avait retrouvé un père qu''il croyait perdu. (Sur ceci, voire l'annotation de ce texte par Y. Gohin, dans l'édition Gallimard, << Folio >>, des Misérables.)
The brother is here indirectly linked to the father – Léopold took in Eugène when living in Blois – in the name of Romainville where is joined at once Thionville, where General Hugo was the defender in 1814 and 1815, and Romorantin, near where the general on half-pay had acquired a property and where Victor, in 1815, had rediscovered a father he had thought lost.

Chapitre V
11 (it seemed to him yesterday): C'est en I, 2, 1.
This is in I, 2, 1.

Chapitre VIII
12 (without doubt erroneously dated 9 June year II): Comment ce document révolutionnaire et cette date peuvent-ils être affichés sous la Restauration dans un bâtiment officiel ? Hugo, en dépit de la vraisemblance, les a sans doute insérés parce que Pache fut l'auteur de la formule : << Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, ou la mort >>.
How could this revolutionary document and this date be posted in an official building under the Restoration? Hugo, despite plausibility, without doubt inserted them because Pache was the author of the formula: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or death”.

Chapitre IX
13 (This man, this was the man.): << Ecce homo >> : c'est ainsi que le Christ est présenté par Ponce Pilate à la foule. Cette expression sera reprise, en latin cette fois, au titre de III, 1, 10.
“Ecce homo”: it's thus that Christ was presented by Pontius Pilate to the crowd. This expression will appear again, in Latin this time, as the title of III, 1, 10.

14 (the Pierron close): Ce nom rappelle celui de Pierre, déjà indirectement évoqué – voir la note 6. Le vol de fruit recoupe étrangement deux anecdotes analogues : l'une dans Choes vues concerne deux enfants, accusés d'avoir volé des pêches dans un jardin à Montreuil. Ils sont incarcérés à la Conciergerie et Hugo les interroge : << Vous avez donc escaladé un mur?
- Non, monsieur, les pêches étaient par terre, sur le chemin.
- Vous n'avez fait que vous baisser ?
- Oui, monsieur.
- Et les ramasser ?
- Oui, monsieur. >> (ouv. Cit., 1830-1846, p. 426.)
L'autre est un dialogue comparable, avec un enfant également, que Hugo rapporte dans une lettre à sa femme. La scène se passe en 1837, à Montreuil également, mais Montreuil-sur-Mer !

This name recalls that of Peter, already indirectly evoked- see note 6. The theft of fruit ties in strangley with two analogous anecdotes: the one in Things Seen concerns two childre, accused of having stolen peaches from a garden in Montreuil. They were incarcerated in the Conciergerie and Hugo interviewd them: “You had scaled a wall, then?”
“No, sir, the peaches were on the ground, in the road.”
“You only had to bend down?”
“Yes, sir.”
“And collect them?”
“Yes, sir.” (op. Cit., 1830-1846, p. 426.)
The other is a comparable dialogue, also with a child, that Hugo reports in a letter to his wife. The scene takes place in 1837, also at Montreuil, but this time Montreuil-sur-Mer!

15 (he managed it splendidly/acquitted himself with dignity): L'exemple n'est pas choisi au hasard puisque Bossuet, figure antithétique de Mgr Bienvenu, incarne non seulement le classicisme littéraire, mais aussi la monarchie de droit divin et la religion entendue comme principe d'ordre social – voir note 25 du livre I.
The example is not selected by chance since Bossuet, a figure antithetical to Mgr Bienvenu, is the incarnation not only of literary classicism but also divine right monarchy and religion understood as a principle of social order – see note 25 of book I.

Chapitre X
16 (she went to bed at 8 o'clock): En contrepoint, peut-être, de la première nuit de Juliette et de Victor. Ils étaient invités ce soir-là au Bal des Artistes du Mardi gras et n'y allèrent pas, pas plus que Marius et Cosette le soir de leurs noces (V, 6, 1).
In counterpoint, perhaps, to Juliette and Victor's first night. They were invited that evening to the Mardi Gras Bal des Artistes and didn't go, no more than did Marius and Cosette the evening of their wedding.

17 (he started laughing himself): Les députés de la droite éclateront de rire de la même façon au discours de Hugo sur la misère (9 juillet 1849). De même les dieux de l'Olympe à l'apparition du Satyre (La Légende des siècles) et les lord devant Gwynplaine (L'Homme qui rit). Quasimodo déjà scrutait les rire de la foule qui prenait son visage pour une grimace.
The deputies of the Right broke out in laughter in the same manner at Hugo's speech on misery (9 July 1849). The same for the gods of Olympus at the appearance of the Satyr (The Legend of the Centuries) and the lords before Gwynplaine (The Laughing Man). Quasimodo already scrutinised the laughter of the crowd who took his face for a grimace.

18 (M. Baloup, boulevard de l'Hôpital): Première évocation de ce qui sera un lieu commun des misérables – voir II, 4 et III, 5 et 8.
First evocation of what will be a common location of the misérables – see II, 4 and III, 5 and 8.

Chapitre XI
19 (in the moment was irresistable): Dans cette brève et lumineuse communion des consciences s'ébauche une théorie de la vertu moralisatrice de l'art, et de l'effet civilisateur spécifique au théâtre, qui sera développée dans William Shakespeare (I, 4, 2 et II, 5, 7).
In this brief and luminous communion of consciences takes shape a theory of the moralising virtue of art and the civilising effect specific to theatre, which will be developed in William Shakespeare (I, 4, 2 and II, 5, 7).
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:22 am

Ulkis wrote:One thing that hit me with a ton of bricks during this section is going in, I absolutely thought that saving Champmathieu was the right thing to do. But when Valjean said that if he went to jail Fantine would die and Cosette would get thrown out onto the street, that never even occured to me, never mind the whole town going to seed. So I do still think that ultimately saving Champmathieu was the best thing to do, but I don't think not confessing would have been totally monstrous either.


Reminds me about our English class arguments about this matter. Some of us were insisting that Valjean shouldn't have confessed, but ultimately the end of the argument was that at that point, Valjean was aware that he could not condemn a man to the galleys, not after what he had experienced. I really think that Valjean was right to save Champmathieu, although what kills me there is that Champmathieu didn't seem to be aware of the enormity of Valjean's sacrifice.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:33 am

Of course, the real tragedy is that society as a whole should have been funding the hospital and school, employers should have been paying a living wage, etc. - Valjean's personal sacrifice of his life (and it is life, because life sentences were accompanied by civil death so that the condemned man's property could be distributed to his family and his wife was not left perpetually married to an absent husband) should not have been the sacrifice of the entire region.

I do love that Hugo gives Valjean so many ways out, or seems to, but the timing of the trial gets delayed just enough. It's that delay in the trial that ordains the outcome, IMO. If Valjean arrived in Arras to find Champmathieu already sentenced, the witnesses already dispersed, it would have been a much more complicated dilemma (I don't know what sort of retrial/mistrial/appeal would have been possible in the circumstances and what the timeline on that sort of legal action might be), and one that Valjean might have accepted in the end - the broken wheel the sign from God that he was needed in one place rather than the other?
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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

Postby Hannah » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:55 am

MmeBahorel wrote:Of course, the real tragedy is that society as a whole should have been funding the hospital and school, employers should have been paying a living wage, etc. - Valjean's personal sacrifice of his life (and it is life, because life sentences were accompanied by civil death so that the condemned man's property could be distributed to his family and his wife was not left perpetually married to an absent husband) should not have been the sacrifice of the entire region.


Yeah, I think this is the worst part :( I mean, it's hard to say what the "right" thing to do is or was, I think. IMO it's not even a matter of "right", it's a matter of ... Valjean did the only thing he reasonably could choose to do in those circumstances, I think. He wouldn't have been able to live with himself if he did not. I find this is often the case in this book - it's hard to argue that Javert, for example, does "the right" things, but he does the only things he's capable of doing under the circumstances and he thinks they are for the best.

I do think the fact that the entire town etc falls apart being given only passing mention is strange, though, and I am not sure what Hugo intended by sort of going "WELP ALSO THINGS WERE HORRIBLE AGAIN BUT THAT'S HOW IT GOES. MOVING ON..." Did he mean to downplay the horribleness or the saving one man vs saving hundreds of people thing? It's always confused me 8(

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

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:12 am

Perhaps he meant to imply that uplifting the conditions of a town/community cannot be the work of one man alone. Inasmuch as Valjean's work for M-sur-M was great, it wasn't exactly sustainable in itself. Unless he was able to radically change the system/the mindsets of the people (something which couldn't be done as seen by the petty quarrels that ensued after he was arrested and the factory passed to new management), the reforms couldn't have lasted.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby Ulkis » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:54 pm

I do think the fact that the entire town etc falls apart being given only passing mention is strange, though, and I am not sure what Hugo intended by sort of going "WELP ALSO THINGS WERE HORRIBLE AGAIN BUT THAT'S HOW IT GOES. MOVING ON..."


Heh. I took that as just "WELP THING WERE HORRIBLE" but no moving on. Well, moving on to the next part of the story, but not moving on as in "get over it". Like, "WELP THINGS WERE HORRIBLE BUT I HAVE A 1200 PAGE LONG STORY TO FINISH". It was Hugo being cynical for a moment.

The haunting/obsessive presence of a brother – of which the story of Jean Valjean made no mention


Yeah, I was startled when I reread that but I'm wanking it that Valjean just has one of those crazy dreams where you have a relative you don't actually have.

I was reminded of when mmebahorel said that Hugo started going crazy later on in his life and thought he was God. I think at least three separate times in this chapter Valjean thought, "oh how fate had put him in such a cruel position" and "what a funny position God had placed him in" and I was all yeah if by fate you mean Hugo.

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

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:18 pm

I was startled when I first read about Valjean's brother in his dream, but could Valjean be referring perhaps (in Jungian/psychoanalytic terms) to some part of himself? His past maybe? What he could have been if things had been different?
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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

Postby Ulkis » Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:22 pm

What the heck is up with the "why is the bread here so bitter?"/the man was German and did not understand part? That takes place when he stops on his way to eat at an inn on the way to Arras. Very weird.

Also I noticed my copy of the book cuts out the lullaby Fantine sings and I was ready to to berate Denny once again, but man, I looked it up, and it is rather a long lullaby. So he still shouldn't've cut it out from what is supposed to be an unabridged version but I get why he did.

Also, this quote:

Everything was there; the apparatus was the same, the hour of the night, the faces of the judges, of soldiers, and of spectators; all were the same, only above the Président's head there hung a crucifix, something which the courts had lacked at the time of his condemnation: God had been absent when he had been judged.


I don't have anything particularly relevant to say about it except it's interesting how from my modern perspective bringing religion into the courtroom is in fact progressing backwards and Hugo thought of it as an improvement. Or not even bringing religion into the courtroom, but that Hugo thinks the lack of God in a courtroom must mean a lack of social conscience.

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

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:41 am

Further proof of the entire episode's surrealistic feel, I guess? It's probably because Valjean is not supposed to be "entirely" coherent or himself at that point. It's a high stress scenario, I think.
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Re: 1.7 L'affaire Champmathieu 26/10/10-5/11/10

Postby LaMisere » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:27 am

I'm so sorry if this is the wrong place to post this but, I hope I'm not too late. :x

Anyway, I'm going to get started tomorrow and will try to catch up!

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

Postby Ulkis » Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:16 pm

No, not at all. And if you don't feel like reading all the previous books you can always just start at where we are too (unless anyone is reading the book for the first time . . . wouldn't recommend that then! :))

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

Postby MmeJavert » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:46 pm

LaMisere wrote:I'm so sorry if this is the wrong place to post this but, I hope I'm not too late. :x

Anyway, I'm going to get started tomorrow and will try to catch up!


Never too late! All discussion threads from the first to the current are always open for discussion, so if you want to post about the first chapter or whatever go right ahead! :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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