2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

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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2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:23 am

Volume 2: Cosette, book 5: Hunt in Darkness

1. Les zigzags de la stratégie/Twists and Turns
2. Il est heureux que le pont d'Austerlitz porte voitures/The Pont d'Austerlitz
3. Voir le plan de Paris de 1727/A vanished quarter
4. Les tâtonnements de l'évasion/Ways of escape
5. Qui serait impossible avec l'éclairage au gaz/Impossible by gas-light
6. Commencement d'une énigme/Beginning of a puzzle
7. Suite de l'énigme/Continuation of a puzzle
8. L'énigme redouble/The puzzle deepens
9. L'homme au grelot/The man with the bell
10. Où il est expliqué comment Javert a fait buisson creux/Which tells how Javert drew a blank

In which Cosette and Valjean are forced to leave their hiding place by Javert and end up meeting an old aquaintance in an unexpected place.

Just a reminder: if you want to add something new to some of the previous threads, that is absolutely okay and welcome, and also if you want to join us where we are in this post but haven't been rereading, no need to go back and read the previous chapters if you don't want, feel free to jump in whenever.

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Dec 19, 2010 9:03 pm

Book 5

Chapter 1
1 (is absent from Paris): V. Hugo rappelle ici directement son exil, au moment où son héros se trouve traqué comme lui-même l'avait été en décembre 1851.
V. Hugo directly recalls here his exile, at the moment when his hero finds himself pursued as he himself had been in December 1851.

2 (Paris has been transformed): Sous l'impulsion du baron Haussmann.
Under the impulse of Baron Haussmann.

Chapter 2
3 (chapter title): Ce chapitre et le suivant datent de l'exil ; ils étaient exigés par le << dépaysement >> du couvent – voir note 2 du livre suivant.
This chapter and the following one date from exile; they were demanded by the “relocation” of the convent – see note 2 of the following book.

4 (pont d'Austerlitz/Austerlitz Bridge): V. Hugo néglige de donner au pont son nom monarchique : << pont du Jardin du Roi >>, comme il l'a lui-même expliqué dans L'Année 1817.
V. Hugo neglects to give the bridge its monarchical name: “King's Garden Bridge”, as he has himself explained in The Year 1817.

Chapter 3
5 (two branches of a Y): Ce << Y >>, imaginé une fois le couvent << dépaysé >> sur la rive droite, prend sens par rapport au << A >> de Waterloo, commencement d'une histoire dont le couvent, à une lettre près, aurait pu être l'achèvement.
This “Y”, imagined one the convent “relocated” on the right bank, takes meaning by linkage with the “A” of Waterloo, beginning of a history of which the convent, to a close letter, would have been the completion.

6 (a Mazas prison): Triste modernisation de Paris, fondée essentiellement sur des jeux et des prisons. Mazas était bien connue de la famille Hugo puisque c'est là qu'en 1850 les fils Hugo avaient été incarcérés, pour délit de presse.
Sad modernisation of Paris, founded essentially on games and prisons. Mazas was well known to the Hugo family since it was there in 1850 the Hugo sons were incarcerated, for press offenses.

7 (the Petit-Picpus): Quartier imaginaire où Hugo, en 1862, a transposé point par point la topographie réelle du couvent de la rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève décrit en 1847.
Imaginary neighbourhood where Hugo, in 1862, had transposed point by point the real topography of the convent in the rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève described in 1847.

8 (a Spanish city): Comme le Besançon du premier poème des Feuilles d'automne ! C'est un indice de l'investissement autobiographique dans l'épisode du couvent.
Like the Besançon of the first poem in Autumn Leaves! It's an indication of the autobiographical investment in the convent episode.

Chapter 5
9 (the condemned man Battemolle): << Il s'était adossé à cet angle et s'était hissé, avec la seule force musculaire des épaules, des coudes et des talons, jusqu'au toit. [...]On le reprit dans le Palais de Justice. Il s'appelait Battemolle. >> (Récit de la visite du Palais de Justice dans Choes vues, ouv. Cit., 1830-1846, p. 406.)
“He leaned against this angle and hauled himself, with only the muscular strength of his shoulders, his elbows, and his nails, up to the roof. . . . They retook him in the Palais de Justice. His name was Battemolle.” (Description of the visit to the Palais de Justice in Things Seen, op. Cit., 1830-1846, p. 406.)

10 (given it for a rope): Écho de la formule du Richard III de Shakespeare : << Mon royaume pour un cheval ! >>
Echo of the formula of Shakespeare's Richard III: “My kingdom for a horse!”

Chapter 6
11 (an old cesspool): Tous ces détails rappellent le jardin des Feuillantines : << […] une immense allée gazonnée, au fond une superbe allée des marronniers, dans un coin un puisard desséché, assez escarpé et profond […]. Des fouillis de broussailles, toute sortes de coins, […]. >> (Victor Hugo raconté..., ouv. Cit., p. 127.)
All these details recall the garden of the Feuillantines : “. . . an immense turfed alley , at the bottom a superb alley of chestnut trees, in a corner a dry cesspool, rather steep and deep . . . . Tangles of undergrowth, all sorts of corners . . .” (Victor Hugo Recounted, op. Cit., p. 127.)

Chapter 9
12 (a bell): Le texte de l'édition << de l'Imprimerie nationale >> dit : << une assez grosse cloche >>.
The text of the “National Printers” edition says: “a rather large bell”. [And here we have an excellent depiction of translation: the French here is “une assez grosse clochette”, a rather large little bell, which sounds just enough off that Fahnestock-MacAfee decided to say “screw it” and omitted all description of the size of the bell.]

13 (Memories returned to Jean Valjean.): Le lecteur, lui aussi, se souvient de I, 5, 7 : Le père Fauchelevent devient jardinier à Paris.
The reader, also remembers I, 5, 7: Father Fauchelevent Becomes a Gardener in Paris.

Chapter 10
14 (the thief would catch): Pastiche de La Fontaine : << Honteux comme un renard qu'une poule aurait pris. >> (Fables, I, 18, Le Renard et la Cigogne.)
Pastiche of La Fontaine: “ashamed as a fox a hen would have caught” (Fables, I, 18, The Fox and the Stork).

As for the reading, intend to catch up on both these books over the Christmas weekend if not earlier in the week.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:26 am

I'm not exactly able to visualize how Valjean acquired that rope. Is there a picture somewhere of how those lamps were set up?
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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Marianne » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:41 am

Damn, I KNOW I've seen some sort of political cartoon about the streetlamp setup, but I'm blanking on where. If I had to guess I'd say it was in the book Carnavalet published for their "Paris in the time of LM" exhibit, so when I get home I'll try to hunt it up and Google the caption a bit to see if it's anywhere online.

I'm blanking on the specifics of the situation--and I know Hugo loves to throw in details and complications, and I don't have time to grab my Brick at the moment--but IIRC it hinges on the fact that before gas lighting was installed, the lamplighters had to manually light or douse each lamp, which necessitated getting it down and back up. Hence the ropes to raise and lower the lamps. I don't remember how clear Hugo is about that, so if it's some completely different logistical detail that has you stymied, forgive my pointless rambling. It's finals week and I haven't slept. :lol:
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:28 am

I think the issue is the "one rope for all the lamps on the street" part - that's what I'm not visualising well. Because if they can all be raised and lowered from a single pull (as opposed to each having its own), then I assume they're strung rather like Christmas lights, but then cutting the "extra" part of the rope, the part wound around to keep everything in place (like on a flagpole), that "extra" would have more weight depending on it and I'd be afraid the whole apparatus would come crashing down. Because how can one be out of place (since part of the rope was cut away and therefore it has to be secured lower down than it ordinarily would have been) without the whole thing being completely out of place?

The trouble is here: "[les réverbères] montaient et descendaient au moyen d'une corde qui traversait la rue de part en part et qui s'ajustait dans la rainure d'une potence. In the FM translation, "[they] were raised and lowered by means of a rope running the whole length of the street and adjusted through the grooves of posts".

With the setup I'm picturing, which would give sort of the effect of Christmas/fairy lights, I don't see how the description of the one lamp being out of place can make sense.

Is this where you're stuck, Aurelia? What I was picturing, before this re-read, was a mechanism like a flagpole, where each lamp has its own post and its own rope. Obviously, it wasn't that simple :(
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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:41 am

Exactly there. I'm not sure how the rope could have been "secured" either---was it supposed to be locked up?
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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:28 am

As far as I can figure out, think about the pronged piece on a flag pole around which you wrap the cord to secure it. Now put a cabinet around it, with a little notch in the top for the cord coming in. That's how it must be locked up.
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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:52 am

My thoughts on the rest of the book:

You've got two things going on here: a tense chase scene that advances the plot, and a climb through purgatory to reach paradise. (And I should probably admit that I had just finished Simon Schama's Landscape and Memory, which includes sections on depictions of Mount Eden and Purgatory as well as sacri monti, when he turns to discuss mountains, having covered forests and rivers, before moving on to Arcadia.)

The chase is well structured to provide suspense to the reader, to illuminate Hugo's reconstruction of Paris, and to give character development to both Valjean and Javert. Hugo adores Paris, he says it straight out, but he acknowledges he is working from memories and old maps. This gives him an out for any inaccuracies, as he is deliberately indulging in, but it also is a way of citing his sources (as he did in Waterloo). The map of 1727 that he cites is certainly something he owned, and in claiming that his description of the neighbourhood of the Petit Picpus would be recognisable to anyone who knew it well, he is citing the memories of one who knew it well - of course, that someone being Juliette, he's not going to cite her publicly.

But we've also got a very detailed journey through Purgatory. Schama summarises Dante's Purgatorio thus: "Dante has Virgil take him to a mountainous island where the daunting cliffs rise sheer from the seashore. The labour of atonement is then characterised as an arduous climb, the angle of ascent often steep enough to require scrambling up the stone face on hands and knees. And in keeping with the tradition of spiritual mountaineering, the going gets easier as it gets higher, until, at the very summit of purgatory, when 'I felt the force within my wings growing for the flight,' the terrestrial paradise is discovered. Though it is washed by cool brooks and is brilliant with pasture and flowers, this is not, of course, the true Paradiso, but merely the place of self-purification that completes the work of heavenly eligibility. There is even a dragon lurking amidst the fountain and trees."

He also summarises a 12th century description of "Mount Eden": "'It is hard to climb and amazingly high and in natural form like a high tower with the steep part as if it had been cut by hand. . . . the mountain itself would seem without plants or moisture, and is far from any living growth in the desert.' One day two pilgrims decided to climb this wilderness mount. . . . [One was simply too weak and had to stop.] This was his misfortune since, on the peak itself, the first climber beheld an astonishing miracle in the midst of the desert: a place alive with fragrant flowers, gushing fountains, heavily laden fruit trees, and brilliant pebbles spied on the bed of crystalline brooks. . . . It is the archetypal parable of the Christian holy mount, repeated in images and narratives of ascent all the way through to the High Renaissance . . ."

So Valjean is enacting much of these same climbs, with trials. He must scale a sheer wall, and after his climb, he finds himself in a garden that seems almost heavenly. He hears the nuns at song, and he feels them the voice of angels. But there are still dragons lurking in this walled garden that has come so providently to his rescue and is fecund even in late winter (for Fauchelevent is out protecting his melons), ordinarily definite signs of Eden or Paradise - the place seems as dead as it is alive, and the corpse (of what we will later learn is a deceased sister) is a terrifying apparition. Moreover, to stay within the walls of the garden, more tests will be needed. But the garden will prove an Eden or a Paradise - secured from the misery outside its walls, it will provide everything Valjean and Cosette need, and they will be welcome to stay for the rest of their lives.

Start with the false door: what could be a door is not, the entrance is not an entrance for Valjean. The first trial is how to get in when the door is not a door, the way is barred, perhaps metaphorically by Valjean's previous transgressions.

But he uses his intellect as well as his brute strength - he make the arduous climb up the sheer rock face, and is able to bring Cosette with him because he has, through using his brain as well as his muscles, his care for her as well as for himself, earned the right of entrance.

Then we get the nuns singing, their voices seeming to come from angels, in direct contrast to the demons - Javert and his men - lurking outside the wall. Valjean feels himself "spread his wings" - he has arrived atop the mountain into the calm of the terrestrial paradise.

But he isn't really there yet. Atop the wall, the dry grass shows the barrenness of the "mountain" and how unlikely permanent succor is on the other side. The deathly look of the bare trees reinforces this idea. The image of the dead figure, where a snake makes the image of a rope around its neck, directly recalls Judas - is there another hanged figure that would be so out of place, so hellish, in a garden of Paradise where angels sing? We veer between paradise and hell, because the tests are not complete and we are still in the shadow of the demons outside the wall.

Then we get Fauchelevent, who gives succor to the possibly dying Cosette - a resurrection of sorts - and we learn from his melons that there is life in this late-winter garden, protected and well-cared for life, which suggests that it may be Paradise or Eden after all. (Eden was often depicted as a walled garden; "Mount Eden" transposes the garden to a mountaintop.) Later, we'll see that Valjean has not yet earned the right to stay in the terrestrial paradise and must undergo an additional test, one that takes on all the images of death - he has found paradise, but he earns his right to stay there through death.

But, around all of this imagery, there's mundane humanity that prevents the whole thing from looking directly like the trials of a saint. Valjean labours his way in, but it's through a different breaking - he can't break in the door or the false door, but he can prise open the cabinet that protects the lamp rope from molestation. He uses his convict knowledge rather than his heavenly knowledge, and the convict knowledge is what gets him into Paradise. But he's scared half to death, and Cosette is cold and scared, and he gets utterly creeped out by the corpse in the moonlight. It terrifies the reader and plunges him/her fully into the human aspect of the story. And when Fauchelevent is taken aback that M. Madeleine doesn't remember him, it completely humanises them both. Valjean isn't the pilgrim saved by an angel; he's a man who is presented with an old acquaintance in a context so out of place that he can't decide from which part of his life he should wrack his brain to identify the guy. Madeleine in the convent isn't so out of place to Fauchelevent, as he knows Madeleine got him the job; moreover, he has probably seen fewer additional people in the intervening years than Madeleine has; Fauchelevent in some unknown corner of Paris is completely out of place for Madeleine, who has to wonder about the entire region of M-sur-M because he traveled in wider circles there than did Fauchelevent. Doesn't help that Fauchelevent's face is hidden in the dark at first, of course, but context is everything.

The final chapter is really fantastic as character development for Javert (and exonerating the landlady to some extent). "They go to Paris to drown; these are drownings that save." To me, that's the whole book, in a sense. Everyone comes to Paris (or, in the case of Marius, descends into a v. different part of Paris) to escape something, and they (even Thénardier) come out better in the end than if they had stayed in their spheres. Even Fantine, because of Cosette. Even Javert, because his enlightenment was his heavenly salvation.

But this final chapter really adds to the portrait of Javert (and argues directly against musical-driven fanon). For this hunter, "today's wolf banishes the memory of yesterday's". Of course, now that Valjean has been found again, he becomes today's wolf until the moment he is recaptured. But Javert spend so much time talking himself out of it. We have his first encounter with Thénardier, in which Javert, as the honest man, gets totally played. "In case of doubt, Javert, a scrupulous man, never collared any man." I suspect this plays itself out in the Patron-Minette/Valjean scheme - it's not just for certainty of his capture of Valjean that Javert sets the trap, but to eliminate all doubt about just what is the offense for which the rest are arrested. This is a statement of his soul as the avatar of public authority.

But we also get the human portrait of Javert. He never reads newspapers, except he's such a monarchist he must read all about the return of the Prince Generalissimo after the successful prosecution of the Spanish intervention. The phrasing here is important: "royalist" would imply a political orientation, but Javert has no political orientation - he supports monarchy in any form, as the people need a firm hand above them and a hierarchy in the world. This may well save him in 1830, when the royalists were often kicked out off their offices in order to award said offices to men who would be loyal to the new regime. Javert is also highly competent and a quick study - he has been in Paris less than a year at this point, but he knows the geography well enough to anticipate Valjean's moves in a sector across the river from where he was first discovered. One can therefore infer that Javert has made an intent study of all of Paris, not only during his search for Valjean the first time but in all his subsequent duties. It is a very small street that we are told about here, that he knows so intimately.

We also have a direct emotional linkage between Valjean and Javert - the "mother finding her child and tiger finding its prey". Valjean could easily have been the tiger, too, but he is here the mother, having the same reaction as Javert, the tiger.

And we get the landlady's full story, which mostly exonerates her, but raises additional questions. Is she a traitor? What loyalty could Valjean have expected from a servant? Does the rate of pay or the social position of the employer demand greater loyalty than what Valjean got? She only ratted him out really when he was about to leave, when she was about to see no more of him. Everything else she told to Javert as she would have told to anyone else who rented a room. For that's what she does, rents rooms. Javert went to her after the beggar came to the police - she, unlike her predecessor in collapse, Mme Victurnien, did not directly seek Valjean's ruin or even his clarification. The landlady was a curious, gossipy busybody who did not actively wish Valjean ill - but does this exonerate her of wrongdoing if Valjean ends up in prison? I think these questions are meant to be considered, because it would have been so easy to either not involve the landlady or to paint her with the same brush as Mme Victurnien. Instead, we have someone who does not do evil, but does not do good, either.

As for the reference to newspapers and public opinion, it's not entirely true that there was a free press that the police had to consider. At the time, censorship had been lifted during times Parliament was in session in order to foment a freer political discourse, but the content laws remained in effect. The government could suspend or suppress any paper whose general tendency seemed injurious to the public peace or to the respect due to the king, religion, and constitution. At the beginning of 1824, the government had decided on a policy of buying up all the small opposition papers to shut them up because the courts weren't playing ball and convicting everyone arrested for press offenses. This is a period of the Restoration with relative press freedom, and "general tendency" probably nearly always meant "doesn't like the way politics are trending in favour of this government", but continual attacks on the police could be an excuse for a paper to get shut down, if the police were considered a proxy for the government. I think it's important to emphasise this: there was a loud press and public opinion was important, but it was not the free press, even in this period, that Hugo claims. It was freer than it had been in 1821 (the revised press law is from 1822), it was freer than it would be in August 1824, but the press in Paris was by no means free in March 1824.

And that's my extremely nerdy response to this book :)
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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:45 am

Some further discussion on geography in these two books (because I'm nerdy like that):

If you want to find the neighbourhood and track Valjean, from the 1831 omnibus route map, the boulevard de l'Hôpital and place St-Jacques are at the very bottom of the map, just above and to the right of the date.

According to Wikipedia, industry settled in the neighbourhood as early as the 13th century (article only in French). The horse market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays year-round, for 4 hours in the afternoon. There are two fountains at the end of the market, so the water supply in this neighbourhood is likely fairly decent. (or at least, there is a water supply in this neighbourhood.)

Sites in the Quartier Saint-Marcel, which was in the 12th arrondissement of the period, include: the anatomical amphitheatre of the Paris hospitals, Ste-Catherine cemetery, the horse market, the Gobelins manufactory, the bakery for all the Paris hospitals, St-Médard church (wiki in French only, but with pictures), the hospice de la Pitié, Salpetrière, and the abattoir de Villejuif (or d'Ivry). I'm getting contradictory information on the anatomical amphitheatre - it should, from location, be the Clamart dissecting rooms, but the book that lists this feature was published in 1828 and the decision to build the dissecting rooms, properly called the Amphithéâtre des hôpitaux, was made in 1830. In any case, the hospice de la Pitié also hosted dissections and autopsies throughout the period of the novel. Ste-Catherine cemetery was the only cemetery inside the city walls still actively in use during the period. While Saint-Medard is the church in the area Hugo selected, [url=Medardus]Saint Medard[/url] was a French bishop and is the patron saint of prisoners and captives, among other things. The hospice de la Pitié, in the rue Copeau, is an orphanage. During the revolution, it was renamed "hospice des Enfants de la Patrie", then was later called "hospice des Orphelins". The Villejuif (or Ivry) abattoir was constructed in 1810 to a design by Leloir. It is not a kosher slaughterhouse but is named for its proximity to the road leading to the village of Villejuif.

Following Valjean in his escape, a few notes:

The rue du Puits-l'Ermite is named for a well in this area and a tanner who once lived nearby, named Adam L'Hermite. (sometimes it is spelled with an H, sometimes just with the E.) Once Valjean hits the rue de Pontoise, he has gone to the other side of the Wine Market (Halle aux vins), very close to the river. Rue Pontoise ends at the quai de la Tournelle. Somehow, he gets back over into his ordinary district, as the rues de l'Epée-de-Bois, l'Arbalète, and des Postes are all very close to Saint-Médard church. The rue de la Clef is right there, too, so I have no idea how he managed to get all the way up to the rue Pontoise - it's an outlier among the street names and probably included less for geographical accuracy and more for being able to point to the police station. The square or carrefour of rue Neuve-Ste-Geneviève is at the opposite end of that street from its intersection with the rue des Postes.

He crosses the river into false geography. The streets Hugo cites on the other side of the Pont d'Austerlitz are nowhere to be found in Béraud and Dufey's Dictionnaire historique de Paris, published in 1828, where I've pulled everything else in this post from. There is no rue Droit-Mur, no rue Polonceau. There is a rue de Picpus and a Barrière de Picpus on the correct side of the river, connecting with the rue du Faubourg St-Antoine, where the streets are widely spaced. The cited Marché Lenoir is probably the marché Beauveau, designed by the architect Lenoir, located near the hôpital St-Antoine, between the rue du Faubourg St-Antoine and the rue de Charenton. The framework is accurate enough, but the specific geography of the streets forming a Y seems to match up only with the triangle of the rue des Sabres, rue de Reuilly, and ruelle des Quatre-Chemins over by the barrière de Charenton, below the barrière de Picpus.

How does this fit in with what he name-checks of the "Old Paris"? Porte Saint-Jacques, porte Paris, the barrière des Sergents, the Porcherons, the Galiote, the Célestins, the Capucins, the Mail, the Bourbe, the Arbre de Cracovie, the Petite-Pologne.

Porte-Saint-Jacques (may or may not be an appropriate picture) was one of the gates of Paris, on the south end, near where rue St-Hyacinthe and rue des Fossé-Saint-Jacques met in Hugo's day. It opened to the rue Saint-Jacques, one of the main axes of medieval Paris.

Barrière des Sergents gets translated as "a guardhouse or a sort of barrack for bailiffs" in an 1885 French/English dictionary. It gets namechecked frequently in Dumas and Hugo - a checkpoint on the border of Paris that is a fixture in depictions of the medieval and Renaissance city.

[url]Les Porcherons[/url] was a chateau built in 1310 and the ruins finally razed during Haussmann's transformation of the city. The property is bounded by the rues Saint-Lazare, Cadet, du Havre, and Provence. There is also the hôtel des Porcherons, near the Porte-Saint-Honoré, where Louis XI stopped after his coronation at Reims before making his proper entry to the city. It's very close to Petite-Pologne.

A galiote is a kind of boat, and there was one making pleasure trips to Saint-Cloud in the 1770s at reasonable rates, so it attracted a large crowd.

The Célestins are a monastic order, with a quay named after them. Their abbey, considering one of the prettiest in Paris, was on the quai Morland; the buildings were taken over in 1785 by the institution Sourd-Muets (Deaf-Mutes).

The Capuchins are another monastic order: they had several abbeys and an affiliated convent in the city, so I can't narrow down just what Hugo means here.

Mail is a game ancestral to croquet - that's where "mall", as in "Pall Mall", comes from. There was a playing court in the Tuileries gardens, enlarged under Louis XIV. There's a rue du Mail built over the top of what had been a mail court.

Bourbe means "mud" or "sludge", and there's a rue de la Bourbe in the southern part of the city connecting with the rue Faubourg Saint-Jacques, near where the Porte-Saint-Jacques used to stand. What Hugo wants with it, I have no idea.

The Arbre de Cracovie was a huge chestnut tree, part of the great alley of trees leading to the Palais Royale, where, in Cardinal Richelieu's day, the chattering classes gathered to talk about the news and share the gossip. So much false news, called "craque", was spread that the tree ended up called, essentially, "The Tree of Gossiping". It was cut down after, in 1779, most of it fell down and nearly killed a group of twenty or so who were meeting there.

Petite-Pologne is a neighbourhood at the north end of the city, near the barrière Monceaux, which was initially built up with drinking places, and for ten years, beginning in 1770, it hosted a VD hospital. Even at that period, and through the Restoration and July Monarchy, it was a ramshackle district inhabited by ragpickers and beggars, the very edge of town - in the late 18th century, there were still arable fields between the rue du Rocher and rue de Clichy, though those were built up in the 19th century.

By "Old Paris", therefore, Hugo is implying medieval and Renaissance Paris - not only before the Revolution, but before Louis XVI entirely. Thus his reference to a 1727 map of Paris. But certain aspects of it still lingered in the Paris of Hugo's day - Petite-Pologne existed under that name at least through the 1840s for Eugène Sue to write about and much of the rest remains in street names, at the very least. So this false geography that Hugo is created is directly linked to aspects of medieval and Renaissance Paris that would be familiar as aspects of medieval and Renaissance Paris to readers of Hugo and Dumas, possibly among others writing historical novels, and those links are up and down the social scale, scattered all over town. It's a very wide picture into which he is threading his fake/real convent.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

Ulkis
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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:50 pm

I found the stuff on the neighborhoods really interesting. Just still in fugue state from all the food I've eaten over the holidays, so I'm not very think-y at the moment. :)

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Marianne » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:11 am

Is this a good time to follow up on the neighborhood info with some stuff on the placement of the convent? Because it was cobbled together from at least three separate places, and I can type up some stuff on that once I get to a proper computer. (Am typing this on a shiny Christmas present, but anything longer will require a real keyboard.)
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:47 am

Sure, go for it.

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Marianne » Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:48 am

Oh bugger everything, I've left all my sources at school. Let's see if I can remember properly.

- As MmeBahorel mentions above, the location Hugo gives for the convent is completely made up, down to the local geography. This was done fairly late in the game--originally the convent section was going to be about a real order in the Rue Neuve-Ste-Geneviève, but Hugo transplanted it to a fictional neighborhood at the last minute on the advice of his editor, who wanted to avoid direct offense towards religious communities and the potential unpleasant consequences. Why transplant it to this particular location? Who knows. It might just be that the juxtaposition of the Gare de Lyon and the Mazas prison--"progress and its corrective"--caught his fancy.

- The real convent in the Rue Neuve-Ste-Geneviève is referenced playfully in the beginning of the convent section when he's talking about how the Petit-Picpus order differs from "the benedictines, called the Ladies of the Blessed Sacrament" and going on about how these minor differences in dress make the two totally distinct, you see, any similarity you notice here is just a coincidence. One of Hugo's mistresses was educated here, and he got a lot of his daily-life anecdotes from her.

- There was an actual order of the Perpetual Adoration in the real Picpus neighborhood, which is quite a ways away from Hugo's fictional location, near the Place de la Nation. The cemetery of this convent is where all the bodies of those guillotined at the Place de la Nation were dumped during the Terror. (And no, no relation to "Cemeteries Take what is Given Them," which takes place halfway across the city.) I have creepy stories about almost getting locked in here overnight if anyone wants to hear them.

- Juliette Drouet also got a convent education, with the Bernardines-Benadictines of the Perpetual Adoration, whose name Hugo obviously stole wholesale, and probably a few anecdotes as well. The reason I really wish I had sources is because I have no freaking idea whether this was in the Rue Neuve-Ste-Geneviève (which I doubt, as I recall being really confused about Paris au temps des Misérables until I realized Juliette wasn't the mistress they were talking about there), in Picpus, or somewhere else entirely (possibly in the rue Cassette, near St-Germain-des-Prés).

Obviously there are a lot of tongue-in-cheek references to the original location of the convent, both in the "these orders are totally distinct, you see" and in the way Valjean's circling during the chase scenes seems to center around it.

Balzac fiends will be happy to learn that the Rue Neuve-Ste-Geneviève is the same one as in Le Père Goriot and that the Maison Vauquer was indeed on the same street as the projected location of the convent. Geography fiends will be happy to learn that although the street is currently called the Rue Tournefort, there are still a few buildings with "Rue Neuve-Ste-Geneviève" carved into the side, and that the convent building is still there at the corner of the Rue Tournefort and the Rue Amyot.

The modern street that corresponds most closely to the final location of the convent is the Rue Traversière near the Gare de Lyon, which funnily enough does a couple of strange Y-shapes, one with the Boulevard Diderot and the Rue Audubon, the other with the Rue Parrot and the Avenue Daumesnil.

I have pictures of all these things from like six months ago that I still need to fix up for the web and upload properly.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:19 am

but Hugo transplanted it to a fictional neighborhood at the last minute on the advice of his editor, who wanted to avoid direct offense towards religious communities and the potential unpleasant consequences.


That's odd, considering that the convent is portrayed as Valjean's most favorite place ever. But I guess the editor figured better safe than sorry.

Two mistresses from these convent schools? They obviously were not doing their job quite right. :)

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Re: 2.5 À chasse noire, meute muette 19/12/10-28/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:23 am

Excellent, thanks! (Since I nerded up this thread like whoa anyway *facepalm*)

From what I can dig up:

The Dictionnaire historique de Paris has an entry for the Bénédictines de l'adoration du saint-sacrement. The original convent began in 1653 in the rue Férou, then moved in 1669 to the rue Cassette. It was destroyed in the Revolution but was re-established in the rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève (doesn't say what year).

There's also a brief listing for a "dames de l'adoration perpétuelle du saint-sacrement", established after 1814 at no. 80, rue du Temple.

Does that help at all?
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard


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