2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

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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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:20 am

August 22, 2013

The Unexpected

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/79/

A ravine changes matters.
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Gervais » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:50 pm

The fictional ravine! At least it made things interesting, and sort of goes along with the Grandpa's Story According to Him thing from earlier.

(Sorry to leave this for a little bit, just, well, not much to add.)
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:54 pm

August 23, 2013

The Plateau of Mont Saint-Jean

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/80/

A charge and then a change
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:42 pm

August 24, 2013

A Bad Guide to Napoleon, a Good Guide to Bulow

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/81/

Timing changes a battle.
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby humanracer » Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:20 pm

Aurelia Combeferre wrote:August 16, 2013

The Eighteenth of June, 1815

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/73/

Hugo sketches out Napoleon and the battle plan


This is dramatic Hugo at his best:

"Was it the evident physical decline of Napoleon that complicated this epoch by an inward diminution of force? Had the twenty years of war worn out the blade as it had worn the scabbard, the soul as well as the body? Did the veteran make himself disastrously felt in the leader? In a word, was this genius, as many historians of note have thought, suffering from an eclipse? Did he go into a frenzy in order to disguise his weakened powers from himself? Did he begin to waver under the delusion of a breath of adventure? Had he become--a grave matter in a general--unconscious of peril? Is there an age, in this class of material great men, who may be called the giants of action, when genius grows short-sighted? Old age has no hold on the geniuses of the ideal; for the Dantes and Michael Angelos to grow old is to grow in greatness; is it to grow less for the Hannibals and the Bonapartes? Had Napoleon lost the direct sense of victory? Had he reached the point where he could no longer recognize the reef, could no longer divine the snare, no longer discern the crumbling brink of abysses? Had he lost his power of scenting out catastrophes? He who had in former days known all the roads to triumph, and who, from the summit of his chariot of lightning, pointed them out with a sovereign finger, had he now reached that state of sinister amazement when he could lead his tumultuous legions harnessed to it, to the precipice? Was he seized at the age of forty-six with a supreme madness? Was that titanic charioteer of destiny no longer anything more than an immense dare-devil?

We do not think so"
At least Hugo didn't follow the paragraph with "maybe".

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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:44 pm

Indeed. It's like a lamentation and a reproach.
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:21 am

August 25, 2013

The Guard

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/82/

The Imperial Guard and its troubles. And an irony at the end
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:09 am

"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:05 pm

August 27, 2013

The Last Square

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/84/

Surrender? "----"!!
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:01 pm

August 28, 2013

Cambronne

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/85/

A name associated with a victory
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:59 pm

August 29, 2013

Quot Libras in Duce?

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/86/

*three more Waterloo chapters after this!*

Was it a battle or a massacre? Hugo weighs in on this heavily.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:11 pm

August 30, 2013

Is Waterloo To be Considered Good?

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/87/

Hugo's analysis. What do you think?
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby humanracer » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:09 am

I have just finished reading the Waterloo section. On the whole I found it quite interesting, although the military talk occasionally went over my head.

In terms of what the section was trying to say, I would suggest:

1.War is awful. I like Hugo's description of the richness of life and how it can be taken away in a moment on the battlefield.

2.History is not made by great men who win great battles (see the Great Man theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Man_theory which was popular at the time). Tolstoy makes this point too throughout War and Peace.

3.The result of Waterloo, and other historical events, was not inevitable. This is contrary to the Whig view of history (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whig_history)

4.Destiny (or God or the Infinite) is ultimately in control. A non spiritual person will of course dispute this but Hugo does seems obsessed with the idea of destiny and fate. This is probably why a lot of the novel relies on coincidence.

5.The more things change, the more things stay the same. Napoleon promised liberty but became a despot himself. After the downfall of Napoleon many monarchies promised reform but failed to deliver. The result was a return to the old political system pre French Revolution.

6.The people and culture of a nation should be the source of its greatness, not its military prowess.

I like the way the final chapter ties the Waterloo narrative into the narrative of the main story. I wasn't expecting that.

What do others think?

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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:58 pm

August 31, 2013

A Recrudescence of Divine Right

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/88/

What history and regimes have to say.
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Re: 2.1 Waterloo 11/11/10 - 29/11/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:22 am

Last Waterloo chapter!

September 1, 2013

The Battle field at Night

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/89/

A thief and a colonel meet.
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