2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-2/12/10

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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2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-2/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:42 am

Volume 2: Cosette, book 2: The Ship Orion

Chapters:

1. Le numéro 24601 devient le numéro 9430/No. 24601 becomes No. 9430
2. Où on lira deux vers qui sont peut-être du diable/Two Lines of Verse Perhaps Written by the Devil
3. Qu'il fallait que la chaîne de la manille eut subit un certain travail préparatoire pour être ainsi brisée d'un coup de marteau/The Broken Shackle*

The book in which Valjean temporarily goes back to prison, Montfermeil thinks the devil buries treasure in the woods, and Hugo thinks ships shouldn't salute their cannons so damn often.

*Okay, this chapter title made me laugh, because I had no idea that the original title was so long. I am going with the Norman Denny translations, even in cases like these, because I like to compare the translations, but I'll provide the Hapsgood title here too: "The ankle chain must have undergone a certain preparatory manipulation to be thus broken with a blow from a hammer." That chapter title might almost be as long as this book! :)

ETA: I screwed up the ending date for the past two days. Fixed now. Sorry!

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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:24 pm

Here is the first footnote from Julie Rose in this book:

According to the Hugo legend, 24601 is a tribute to the day the great poet was conceived (June 24, 1801), on a mountaintop in the Vosges.

I'm not sure how many people knew about that already, but I certainly didn't. How delightful.

I liked the article from the Journal de Paris. It reminded me of the comment Hugo made earlier on about the language of lawyers. Here, the language of popular media: "thanks to the indefatigable zeal"; "the patriarch of Ferney"; "the able and eloquent mouthpiece of the public prosecutor's office". And of course, for all that, they get their facts incorrect a number of times. Sounds disturbingly similar to some media outlets these days.

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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby Frédérique » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:00 pm

According to the Hugo legend, 24601 is a tribute to the day the great poet was conceived (June 24, 1801), on a mountaintop in the Vosges.


... oh, Hugo. It sounds like precisely the sort of 'tribute' he'd include. (So what do we have for April 9, 1830?)

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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:00 pm

He knew what day he was conceived? Oh Hugo indeed.

I liked the article from the Journal de Paris.


Oh me too. Besides being good commentary it's funny as well. "He had a concubine who died upon hearing his arrest" makes me snicker.

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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:31 am

Sneaky Hugo. Not only does he work in the date of his conception, but he has such obtuse characters who come up with frightful ideas about buried treasure. I seem to recall that motif pops up again much later in the book?
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:09 am

Well, just subtract nine months from his date of birth :)

Notes!

Chapitre 1

1 (by the newspapers of the time): La Gazette des tribunaux ne fut régulièrement publiée qu'à partir de 1825. Les articles suivant – dont le narrateur invite explicitement à apprécier le style et l'exactitude – son évidemment factices. Ils mettent d'autant mieux en oeuvre l'effet de réel tiré de la citation d'un document que le lecteur est capable de les critiquer.
The Gazette des tribunaux (Court Paper) was not regularly published until 1825. The following articles – of which the narrator explicitly invites the reader to appreciate the style and detail – are obvious fakes. They best implement the effect of reality pulled from the citation of a document that the reader is capable of critiquing.

2 (these long canals full of soot): Citation exacte du poème Le Pauvre Diable de Voltaire (1758).
Exact citation of the poem The Poor Devil, by Voltaire (1758).

Chapitre 2

3 (simulacra, nihilique): << Il creuse, et cache, dans une sombre fosse, des trésors, / Un sou, de l'argent, des cailloux, un cadavre, des fantômes, rien du tout. >> Ce latin barbare, ce Tryphon, pourraient bien sortir de l'imagination de Hugo. Ce ne semble pas être entièrement le cas puisque, dans une lettre au critique A. Darcel du 29 mai 1862, Hugo dit avoir trouvé ce << Tryphon et les crapeaus de sa tombe >> dans << le travail d'Auguste Leprévost sur Saint-Georges de Bocherville. >> (éd. J. Massin, t. XII,p. 1173.)
“It digs, and hides, in a somber pit, treasures, / A sou, some silver, some stones, a corpse, ghosts, nothing at all.” This barbarous Latin, this Tryphon, could well come from Hugo's imagination. This doesn't seem entirely the case since, in a letter to the critic A. Darcel of 29 May 1862, Hugo claims to have found this “Tryphon and the toads of his tomb” in “the work of Auguste Leprévost on Saint George of Bocherville” (ed. J. Massin, vol. XII, p. 1173).

Chapitre 3

4 (the Mediterranean squadron): L'Orion, lancé en 1813, servit bien de << vaisseau-école >> mais il fut toujours basé à Brest où Hugo le vit en avril 1834.
The Orion, launched in 1813, served as a training ship but it was always based in Brest where Hugo saw it in April 1834.

5 (“the time of the war in Spain): L'Espagne, après une brève expérience de monarchie libérale (1820-1822), connut une réaction violente, ultra et cléricale, qui donna à la Sainte-Alliance, au Congrès de Vérone de 1822, l'occasion d'intervenir. Chateaubriand, piégé par son rêve de gloire, accepta que l'armée française aille, << sous le drapeau blanc >>, effacer à la fois la cause libérale esapgnole et les souvenirs des armées napoléoniennes. Cette guerre, très impopulair en France, fut l'occasion d'une véritable terreur blanche que le duc d'Angoulême s'efforça de contenir, d'où son nom << le héros d'Andujar >>.
Spain, after a brief experience with liberal monarchy (1820-22), underwent a violent ultra and clerical reaction, which gave the Holy Alliance, at the Congress of Verona in 1822, the chance to intervene. Chateaubriand, trapped by his dream of glory, accepted that the French army would go, “under the white flag” [of the monarchy, not of surrender, obv.], to erase at the same time the Spanish liberal cause and the memories of the Napoleonic armies. This war, very unpopular in France, was the occasion for a veritable white terror that the Duke d'Angoulême did his best to contain, from which comes his name, “the hero of Andujar” (link is in French, sorry).

6 (obéissance passive/passive obedience): Voir la note 7 de la première partie, livre 2.
See note 7 in the first part, book 2.

7 (war of 1823 was fatal to them): Ce jugement implique la condemantion du grand responsable de cette << guerre >> piteuse et qui devait être glorieuse pour son initiateur, Chateaubriand.
This judgment implies the condemnation of the great responsible for this pitiful “war” and which should be glorious for its initiator, Chateaubriand.

8 (el rey neto): << Le roi pur et simple >> : mot d'ordre des << absolutistes>>.
“The king pure and simple”: watchword among “absolutists”.

9 (la bigaille/butterfly [in F/M, making me go WTF]/winged insects): Nom colonial donné à tous les insectes ailés et piquants. Toute cette description est textuellement reprise d'une page de l'album de voyage de 1839, lorsque Hugo visita Toulon. Quelques lignes plus haut, Hugo avait noté : << Cariatides de Puget […]. Vieux forçat en cheveux blancs, assis sur une borne, sa grosse chaîne au côté […]. >> Et, d'une autre écriture : << Jean Tréjean >> (premier nom donné au héros).
Colonial name given to all winged, stinging insects [I assume mosquitoes and biting flies for the most part]. This entire description is textually taken from a page of the travel album of 1839 when Hugo visited Toulon. Several lines earlier, Hugo had noted: “Caryatids by Puget . . . . Old convict with white hair, sitting on a stone marker [or post], his thick [coarse] chain by his side . . . .” And, from another entry: “Jean Tréjean” (first name given to the hero).

10 (witnessed an accident): L'épisode est inspiré par un événement réel (juin 1847) sur lequel Hugo avait été précisement documenté. Il en intitule le récit manuscrit : << Note écrite pour moi dans le premiers jours de juin par M. le baron La Roncière Le Nourry, aujourd'hui (mai 1860) capitaine de vaisseau, ami de Napoléon Jérôme et prochainement contre-amiral. >> Le text de Hugo reprend parfois mot pour mot cette note, mais le forçat ne s'était pas évadé.
The episode is inspired by a real event (June 1847) on which Hugo had been precisely informed. He titled the handwritten account: “Note written for me in the first days of June by Baron La Roncière le Nourry[French only], today (May 1860) Captain, friend of Napoléon Jérôme and soon to be Rear Admiral.” Hugo's text retraces sometimes word for word this note, but the convict did not escape.

11 (was named Jean Valjean): La date du 16 novembre 1823 est celle de la dernière lettre connue d'Eugène, lettre pleine d'amertume, de jalousie et de sentiment d'abandon. Peut-être est-ce de ce jour que Hugo date le moment où son frère s'enfonce dans le silence et la demi-mort de la folie.
The date of 16 November 1823 is that of the last known letter from Eugène [Victor's middle brother who went mad], a letter full of bitterness, jealousy, and a feeling of abandonment. Perhaps it is from this day that Hugo dates the moment when his brother buried himself in silence and the half-death of madness.
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby Wolf_Of_Mankind » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:32 am

I think this is interesting because of all the characters Hugo put through a "trial by water" so to speak, Valjean is the only one who lives through it. I assume the water/drowning thing wasn't only symbolic for him, but haunting because of his daughter.

For example (spoilers throughout my list, okay?):
Javert: Commits suicide in Seine.
Gwynplaine: Dies trying to follow the spirit of Dea; drowns in a river.
Gilliat: Drowns watching his love leave with another man.
Éponine: Talks of committing suicide in river but "too cold."
Gringoire: Talks of committing suicide in river but "too cold." (pattern here? Or an older Hugo recycling a bit of prose from his younger days?)
Valjean: "Drowns" but ends up living.

Perhaps it's the "Everyman" aspect to Valjean that has Hugo rescue him. But whatever reason, I'm rather facinated by Hugo's continual, haunted use of water to represent total and utter destruction.
"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."
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:02 am

Reading that brought back memories of TS Eliot and Tolkien.

What works are Gwynplaine and Gilliat from?
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby Wolf_Of_Mankind » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:15 am

Gwynplaine is the main protagonist in "The Man Who Laughs" and Gilliat is the main protagonist in "The Toilers of the Sea."
"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."
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-3/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:19 am

If it's all from Léopoldine, Gringoire doesn't fit the pattern, but I think you do make a good point regardless of that one that is outside the timeline, and it is easily arguable that because Gringoire doesn't go through with it, it doesn't really count, as the rest, after Léopoldine's death, are very much about actual death. (I'm going to go with unconscious echo rather than deliberate recycling on the Gringoire-Eponine thing.)

Will actually catch up on this reading this weekend and have active comments then.
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-2/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:22 pm

Now that I've had a chance to catch up :)

Chapter 1

Just a quick reminder that the Drapeau Blanc (White Flag) was an ultraroyalist paper. The Constitutionnel is the most popular liberal paper - at the time, the most popular newspaper in France. The Constitutionnel also had a regular featured called "The Ecclesiastical Gazette", which tracked the most ridiculous stories of greed and ignorance among priests and the Church hierarchy. Thus this comment on Valjean is absolutely typical of the Constitutionnel, akin to saying "And The New York Times editorial page blamed President George W. Bush for the whole thing". Even forty years later, it was probably seen as a commonplace of the period.

The sentence Fahnestock/MacAfee translate as "Jean Valjean's new prison number was 9430" is, in the original French, "Jean valjean changea de chiffre au bagne. Il s'appela 9,430." I'd call this more "Jean Valjean changed numbers/got a new number in prison. He was now named 9430." "Il s'appela" = he called himself, his name was. It isn't just a new prison number assigned to him; Hugo is reminding us that the prisoner is given a new identity, that he has no name outside of his number. Also that Valjean is now on his fourth name in this book: Jean Valjean, 24601, M. Madeleine, 9430. He will call himself/name himself many other things before his story ends.

Villèle is important later in the book, though possibly little acknowledged: in April 1827, a military demonstration by the National Guard, before the King, collapsed into an anti-government demonstration by the National Guard itself, with the crowd of observers joining in and processing through the city shouting "Down with the ministers!" (but still "Long live the king") Villèle, as prime minister, got name-checked in that demo, but Charles X kept him on. He dissolved the Chamber of Deputies in October, in the hopes of forcing an election that would return a more conservative group of legislators; instead, the Left and Right went into coalition to keep the ultras out out legislative power. Some of the Amis de l'ABC, if not all, were probably involved in the discussion and even riots around the legislative elections. Villèle lost his office at the beginning of 1828, as Charles X had to deal with the new Chamber. This is all background to 1830.

Chapter 2

Hugo's really bringing the snark here, isn't he?

The water-carrier is called Six-Fours, and "four" can mean oven or kiln, but it also figures in slang expressions - in theatre, "un four" is a flop, a failure, but it also refers to the cellars or holes where forced conscripts are hidden until shipped to the regiment or ship. Either he's from an area with six kilns, or it's related to the latter definition. Though not directly linked to Boulatruelle and Thénardier, I strongly suspect the latter. It fits with the general air of seediness on the fringes of Montfermeil, and water-carrier is a low-wage job one can enter without capital.

Chapter 3

I feel compelled to respond to Hugo's charge that worldwide, 300 million francs a year are wasted on useless cannon salutes. If these 150,000 cannon shots per day do not happen, that's so many pounds of gunpowder not made or sold. And the same charge can be leveled against fireworks, which are also useless users of gunpowder. Devastate the industries of saltpeter manufacture and gunpowder manufacture, all of which are taxed, and then see how much savings can be diverted to the feeding of an expanded body of the poor. (false economic correlations drive me nuts.)

Rostopchin, military governor of Moscow who ordered the burning of the city rather than surrender to Napoleon; Ballesteros, Spanish liberal patriot.

"Whenever immense strength is put forth only to end in immense weakness, it makes men meditate. That is why in seaports, the curious, without knowing exactly why, flock to these wonderful instruments of war and navigation." I kind of have to agree with him here. The beauty of the tallships is in the sails, in the knowledge that something that looks so thin and fragile is capable of sailing around the world. I don't get excited about modern shipping; in fact, I'm not all that interested in anything after the introduction of steam as sole-source power. The mid-century hybrids, like the "Four Black Dragons" with which Perry descended on Tokyo, are more interesting to me for that than for their existence. Steam destroys the delicacy that is the sign of Hugo's imminent "immense weakness".

I think, from my readings, that Hugo is wrong on the coppering - copper sheathing was definitely known and used prior to 1813, when Orion was built, but it may be that French ships of the era could not get hold of enough copper to create the necessary sheets, therefore they continued to use the older methods to deter shipworms and other corrosive creatures that attached to the wooden bottoms. (I think that may be right, as Wikipedia suggests the British Navy could do widespread coppering because of huge copper deposits in Wales.) So there was copper sheathing, but the French likely couldn't afford it. (See, I'm doing better than Stephen Maturin, but then, who except Jagiello wouldn't? *g*)

Anyway, I think this chapter is awesome because I'm pretty much in agreement with Hugo on tallships, particularly ships of the line. They're so pretty and so deadly all at once, and really are a masterpiece of technical innovation.

Chapter ends with Valjean's "death" - note that in death, the convict regains his name, his identity. He was "registered under the number 9430 and was named Jean Valjean", while in Chapter 1, he was in essence renamed 9430.
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-2/12/10

Postby humanracer » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:03 am

He has been arrested and re-arrested countless times but in this part of the novel Valjean is actually "killed off". Shouldn't Hugo have ended the first part of the novel this way? It would have made a better cliffhanger. Do we know if the Orion bit was added post exile?

I am not familiar with ships so I am having trouble visualising the accident that happened on the Orion in this book. Surely if Valjean fell while the ship was docked,he could be easily rescued? I tried to find this scene in various film versions but had no joy. The various illustrations all show different things too.

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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-2/12/10

Postby WhoIam » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:52 am

There were two ships docked very close together, the Orion and the Algesiras. The assumption was that Valjean was caught beneath the one of the two and drowned.
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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-2/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:01 pm

September 2, 2013

Number 24601 becomes Number 9430

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/90/

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Re: 2.2 Le vaisseau L'Orion/The Ship Orion 30/11/10-2/12/10

Postby Gervais » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:27 pm

The sentence Fahnestock/MacAfee translate as "Jean Valjean's new prison number was 9430" is, in the original French, "Jean valjean changea de chiffre au bagne. Il s'appela 9,430." I'd call this more "Jean Valjean changed numbers/got a new number in prison. He was now named 9430." "Il s'appela" = he called himself, his name was. It isn't just a new prison number assigned to him; Hugo is reminding us that the prisoner is given a new identity, that he has no name outside of his number. Also that Valjean is now on his fourth name in this book: Jean Valjean, 24601, M. Madeleine, 9430. He will call himself/name himself many other things before his story ends.


I agree it's important that he calls himself this. It could just be a number that he responds to, and he calls himself Valjean, but he's accepted the fact that he has to move on from Madeleine like he had to move in from being 24601 and Valjean. Him being able to say "I am 9430" shows a pretty smooth ability to go from being known as, and actually becoming, one thing to another, I think. Valjean was an almost stupid man, if well-intended; 25601 was bitter; Madeleine was honest and a benefactor; 9430 has to pay for what 24601 and Valjean did.
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