1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

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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Wolf_Of_Mankind
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Wolf_Of_Mankind » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:32 am

MmeBahorel wrote:Voilà l'autre, à présent ! Te tairas-tu, drôlesse ! Gredin de pays où les galériens sont magistrats et où les filles publiques sont soignées comme des comtesses ! Ah mais ! tout ça va changer ; il était temps !

That's the only point in this book where he refers to Fantine as anything - "fille publique" is very standard language, even legal language - it comes up in regulations, and it is used by Parent-Duchâtelet in his study of Parisian prostitution. In Fantine's arrest, the narrator describes Javert's thoughts and uses "fille publique" there, as in "fille publique cracher au visage d'un maire". Only when he gets really bitchy with her does he address her as "drôlesse", both in jail, and here. The Académie française dictionary of 1835 defines it as "DRÔLESSE. s. f. Fille ou femme méprisable. C'est une drôlesse. Il est très-familier.".

For me, I'd use "prostitute" for "fille publique" and "whore" for "drôlesse". I think Julie Rose is pushing a context here that doesn't actually fit with Javert on the whole. He thinks in legal terms but lashes out in what might be considered "the language of the street". (Fahnestock/Macafee use my preferred terms on this one, but I looked that up after writing the rest of this post. Wilbour probably had to balance how he could publish references to whores in the UK in 1862 with Hugo's legal accuracy - because the French legalised it and talked about it all the time, Hugo could use both legal and common terms. Rose has the freedom to use whatever language she thinks suits best, and I don't think I agree with her on what language suits best in this instance.)



I know I'm posting right after myself, but I must say MmeBahorel, YOU ROCK. SERIOUSLY. I'm such a crazy Javert fan that this is like finding a type of chocolate that I didn't know existed. THANKS SO MUCH.
Wow, and I thought I was a hard-core LM fan.
*scurries off to study*
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby cordeliersclub » Sun May 15, 2011 7:05 pm

MmeBahorel wrote:Here is Javert the octopus.



Anyone? Anyone with Photoshop?

...Anyone at all?

Another Javert-thought that I'm pondering is this: What would have happened to him if he'd actually gone on believing he'd been wrong about Valjean? Finding out that he was right means that he'll never have to live with the shame of doing something flat-out wrong and anti-authority. Whereas Valjean learns that he has the capacity and duty to rise above his greatest sins, Javert is kind of doomed by the flawed understanding that to sin in the first place is avoidable, punishable, and something he is above. I think Hugo gives us a flash of this when he writes more sympathetically about how transformed Javert is in his humility; a flicker of him at the threshold of being saved like Valjean was by Myriel's forgiveness...and then as soon as he's told to arrest The Real Valjean, he snaps back to a place where that door is shut.

Or maybe, you know, not.
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:34 am

August 9, 2013

In What Mirror M. Madeleine Contemplates His Hair

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/66/

Valjean discovers his hair has gone white.

Medical accuracy aside, the symbolism here is quite profound (as Gervais said in another thread).
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby humanracer » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:21 am

Aurelia Combeferre wrote:I have always found Fantine's death here horrifying, but a tad unrealistic. Really now, died of shock? Was her consumption that bad?

However the most moving part for me would have to be Sister Simplice's complicity in letting Valjean escape. Just goes to show what Hugo's views on a certain hierarchy of values could be: compassion over honor/reputation?

Well I think Fantine died from whatever disease she had. It was coincidence that she died just as Javert was arresting Valjean. Remember this is a book where the plot is based on a large number of coincidences, just like Valjean conveniently staying alive just until Marius and Cosette make an appearence. I think Valjean's statement that Javert had killed Fantine still rings true as she was arrested when she should have been given medical care. One of the strong points of the novel is its ability to induce a suspension of disbelief in the reader. Not many other writers could have pulled off a narrative full of coincidences and implausable events.

Anyone agree or disagree? feel free to join in.

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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Gervais » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:53 pm

Well, with the hair, again, it's been talked about that that was mostly impossible, so for her to just die of shock wouldn't be too out there by that standard, though that's been talked about here, too.

And I did find an interesting article on the hair, if anyone wants to look at another thing for that: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2012101 ... air-grey/2
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:56 pm

And, humanracer, I think you are correct; there are many situations in the Brick that, yes, do require a suspension of disbelief. It's been a while, but if I'm remembering correctly, I think Mario Vargas Llosa, in his Temptation of the Impossible, made that point, or something similar, just in general, saying that even the fact that Fantine got fired for having a child during that time was unrealistic, and was just another exaggeration for the sake of drama, but the fact that an author can create their own world and suck the reader into it if the latter knows that it's not real and plausible, but can't help being swept up anyway, is the mark of a really brilliant writer. Or something like that.

Ooh, thanks for the article, Gervais. :D

And even if it were possible for someone's hair to do that overnight from simply stress, if you think about how much stress each of us have on a regular enough basis, I can hardly imagine what the intensity of it would need to be for Valjean.
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:53 pm

True.

Though I view it as him passing to a certain plane, close to a parity with the Bishop.
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:01 pm

Oh, I love that, Aurelia, so it's sort of like passing through a fire and coming out white and pure. It's especially interesting of a comparison considering that Myriel is dead at this point.
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:13 pm

And comparing to other old, white heads later: Mabeuf for instance. It's an odd parallel.
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby WhoIam » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:17 pm

Hugo appears to be using the white hair to indicate being a venerable, benevolent man, so Valjean's hair turning white seems to be both reasons together. It represents his stress and fear, and how he's become a truly good and selfless - sort of - man.
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:18 pm

Ooh, yes, it is, especially when you consider Valjean and Mabeuf as old men and mentors, of a sense, (if Valjean's kind of taken over the Bishop's role), and how they respond on the barricades, each offering a very different type of sacrifice, that, in a sense, comprises all of their being. And it's especially interesting if you think about Valjean as Cosette's surrogate father, and Mabeuf as Marius' surrogate father, and...well, it's just interesting, sorry, we're not there yet, I know. :oops:
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:30 pm

Hugo and hair. Sheesh. It reminds me of years ago this funny post from a_marguerite:

http://abaisse.the-barricade.net/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=106&start=150#wrap
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:49 am

August 10, 2013

Fantine Happy

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/67/

In which Fantine insists on seeing Cosette, and Jean Valjean must keep up a pretense.

I do not know whether this is right or wrong on Valjean's part. What do you think?
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby WhoIam » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:15 am

Well, there's the possibility that if Fantine found out that the mayor had not delivered on his promise, she could have died earlier, her health weakened by the knowledge. Her visible health improvement just by believing Cosette was near supports the theory that the reverse could have occurred. While deception is less than advisable in most cases, it did contribute to her lasting even just that bit longer, and if Javert hadn't come to arrest him and she had gone on believing that Cosette was there, she might have managed to actually see Cosette before her death.
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Re: 1.8 Contre-Coup/Counter-Blow 06/11/10-10/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:50 am

I was thinking that. Though of course from modern med ethics it's sketchy. Kind of akin to the ethics of giving placebo.

But I digress. It's quite interesting to see Fantine's idealized image of her daughter at this point. Which makes me wonder what would have happened had she seen the reality.
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