2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

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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2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:22 pm

Volume 2: Cosette, book 4: The Old Gorbeau Slum

Chapters:

1. Maître Gorbeau
2. Nid pour hibou et fauvette/Nest for Owl and Warbler
3. Deux malheurs mêlés font du bonheur/Mix Two Unhappy People Together and You Get Happiness
4. Les remarques de la principale locataire/What the Chief Tenant Noticed
5. Une pièce de cinq francs qui tombe à terre fait du bruit/When it Falls on the Ground a Five-Franc Coin makes a Racket

Jean Valjean brings Cosette to Paris, to the Gorbeau House. Their relationship becomes one of father and daughter. This happy new beginning, however, is shadowed by Javert.

(Sorry this is a bit late, guys. I ended up having to work late yesterday, and then rush off to my brother's awards night)

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:03 pm

I don't have a lot to say about this book but I do think "Nest For Owl and Fledging" is a sweet chapter. Interesting how Valjean already is thinking, "thank goodness she's not good looking so she won't want to go away." And do I wonder how long Valjean would have stayed at Gorbeau if Javert hadn't come round. I do think Cosette might have gotten tired of living in such a grimy spot as she grew older.

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:19 am

Chapter 1

1 (the solitary stroller): Ce promeneur rousseauiste est bien sûr Hugo lui-même, déjà << passant >> à Waterloo (II, 1, 1), bientôt nommé << rôdeur de barrières >> (III, 1, 5).
This Rousseauist stroller is of course Hugo himself, already “passing” at Waterloo (II, 1, 1), soon named “prowler of the barrières” (III, 1, 5).

2 (number 52): Dans cet intervalle, prophétique – car l'hésitation appartient à la première rédaction - , se lit la date de 1851, année du coup d'État et du départ en exil. Mais c'était déjà, en 1845-1848, l'inversion de 1815.
In this interval, prophetic – because the hesitation belongs to the first draft – is read the date 1851, year of the coup d'etat and of the departure in exile. But it was already, in 1845-1858, the inversion of 1815.

3 (rue Croulebarbe where Ulbach): En mai 1827, Ulbach, âgé de vingt ans, tua la jeune fille qu'il aimait. Ce souvenir reparaîtra en IV, 2, 1.
In May 1827, Ulbach, age 20, killed the young woman he was in love with. This memory will reappear in IV, 2, 1.

4 (Bicêtre): Par son numéro et son voisinage (Hôpital, départ de la chaîne du bagne, lieu des exécution capitales) cette maison est donc localisée au centre même de la misère.
By its number and its environs (hospital, place of departure of the chain gang for the galleys, place of capital execution) this house is thus located in the very centre of misery.

5 (faubourg St-Marceau): Cette petite digression est de celles, très nombreuses, par lesquelles le roman s'offre comme livre total et virtuellement unique : Bible religieuse autant qu'encyclopédie des connaissances utiles. Énigmatique cependant est la date de juillet 1845 où il fut surprise en << flagrant délit d'adultère >> avec Léonie Biard.
This little digression is of those, very numerous, by which the novel offers itself as a total and virtually unique book: religious Bible as much as encyclopedia of useful knowledge. Enigmatic nevertheless is the date of July 1845 when he was surprised in “flagrant adulterous offense” with Léonie Biard.

Chapter 3
6 (épreintes/inward yearnings [F/MA]: Contractions abdominales douloureuses consécutives à l'accouchement.
Painful abdominal contractions following childbirth. [The contractions producing the afterbirth – thus giving a physiological basis for Valjean's feelings about Cosette, not just the psychological basis the Fahnestock/MacAfee translation implies, linked to sympathetic pregnancy. In other words, Hugo is practically talking mpreg here, which F/MA want to back away from. I don't blame them.]
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:55 am

Ok, the falling apart house of Maitre Gorbeau:

I just had to facepalm over the incredible Romanticism of this sentence: "Symmetry is boredom, the quintessence of mourning." Only old cities are worthwhile; new build sucks the life out. Architecture was usually constructed on symmetrical principles, but decay attacks asymmetrically. And thus symmetry, being mathematically beautiful, is Enlightenment thought, architecture, art, life, while asymmetry is derived from natural forces against man because it is either the result of man's work collapsing or is the result of nature forcing man more into her image, that he has to make twists and turns to go around an obstacle or to climb a hill most easily. And death is where nature is subordinated to man - a cut down tree, a dead tree, is what becomes the beams and planking of a house, and "living stone" is very different to perfectly shaped paving stones in a city street.

The foreshadowing in Chapter 3, "he saw no reason now why he should not live to a very old age" since he has Cosette to love is heartbreaking. You know even reading it that, with so much of the novel left, something's going to come up to destroy that, it's far too early for such a sentiment to be real, but it's ever so sad when you know what happens.

But that same chapter also has nice moments of both Hugo explaining his avatars and humanising them into characters. He finally directly states that Fantine exists to show the lot of woman and Javert is the complete embodiment of public authority. Which could throw the reader off the track of looking for individual characterisation as they are admitted to be tropes. But then you have the discussion of Valjean's redemption, that getting arrested for doing everything right, except for that stupid matter of the passport, just proves the law cares more about niggly details than about actually protecting people. You totally believe anyone would be bitter over that, and that Valjean was bitter makes him more real than trope - he was bitter, but he also is doing everything he can not to be completely swallowed by it, and that balance is human.

Then we get the description of the landlady, who sort of reminds me of Mme Victurnien - they are both carefully drawn portraits of thwarted women who exist only to cause trouble for the main characters, at which point, their role having been filled, they will completely disappear. Except I like the landlady better, for reasons that become clear as her role is clarified in the next book. Here, though, I like how her position is ambiguous. We know by the end of the chapter that Valjean has been turned in by someone, and it is eminently plausible that it is the landlady. But the innuendo isn't laid on thickly, so that while one suspects, one doesn't assume. Which is very much what Valjean and Javert are doing in reference to each other.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:13 am

Then we get the description of the landlady, who sort of reminds me of Mme Victurnien - they are both carefully drawn portraits of thwarted women who exist only to cause trouble for the main characters, at which point, their role having been filled, they will completely disappear.


I thought that too. I didn't think about how they both disappear, but I just thought, "Hugo really liked his meddling old biddies, didn't he." I think the landlady was more innocent though. She was just old and bored and maybe scared of Jean Valjean - after all can you blame an old lady for being alarmed when a super strong probably kinda creepy guy acts shady - and meanwhile Victurnien was spiteful and got self-righteous over Fantine.

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:19 pm

So random thought about this section: The chapter where where it's describing how Cosette had sought things to love but couldn't find anything, it goes on to say, "The Thenardiers, they had all repulsed her." At first I thought it meant that they had disgusted Cosette (because they were awful), but does it simply mean that they had rejected Cosette?

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby Mamselle Miss » Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:20 pm

I always took it to mean that they had rejected her.
Laughter is not all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.
-Oscar Wilde

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:37 am

Yeah, the more I think about it the more it was probably just that meaning.

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/1

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:45 pm

September 16, 2013

Master Gorbeau

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/104/

View of the owner of a house that may as well not be in Paris.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/1

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:51 pm

September 17, 2013

A Nest for Owl and Warbler

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/105/

The outline of a refuge.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/1

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:08 pm

September 18, 2013

Two Misfortunes make One Piece of Good Fortune

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/106/

How Valjean and Cosette get along.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/1

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:57 pm

September 19, 2013

Remarks of the Principal Tenant

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/107/

Jean Valjean's peculiar habits become a cause of some intrigue
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.4 La masure Gorbeau/The Old Gorbeau Slum 14/12/10-18/1

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:03 pm

September 20, 2013

A Five-Franc Piece falls on the Ground and produces a Tumult

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/108/

Reasons to fear a new lodger.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."


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